Kalpana Kalpana (Editor)

Ringling Brothers Circus

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Country  United States
Year founded  1871
Founder(s)  Ringling Bros.
Operator(s)  Ringling Bros.
Ringling Brothers Circus
Circus name  Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Shows
Fate  Merged with Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth

Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Shows was a circus founded in Baraboo, Wisconsin, United States in 1884 by five of the seven Ringling brothers: Albert, August, Otto, Alfred T., Charles, John, and Henry. The Ringling brothers were sons of a German immigrant, August Frederick Rungeling, who simplified his name to Ringling once in America. In 1907 Ringling Bros. acquired the Barnum & Bailey Circus, merging them in 1919 to become Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, promoted as The Greatest Show on Earth.



In 1882, before the Ringling brothers created their first circus, the five brothers performed skits and juggling routines in town halls around the state of Wisconsin. Their first show was on November 27, 1882, in Mazomanie, Wisconsin. They called this the "Ringling Bros. Variety Performance" when they took the show to the next town. With two wandering performers the next year, the brothers toured the Northwest. After the Northwest tour, they used the money earned for suits.

They expanded their acts into a one ring show in 1884. The show added a trick horse and a bear at the end of the season. The circus started traveling by trains in 1888 allowing the show to consistently expand.

Ringling Circus purchased the Yankee Robinson Circus and opened a joint show on May 19, 1884. This brought them to the attention of James Anthony Bailey of Barnum and Bailey's Circus as a viable competitor. The brothers met with Bailey thus agreeing to a division of areas. This was followed by them purchasing a half share of the Adam Forepaugh Sells Brothers Circus from Bailey. Bailey, under the area division, nixed the Ringlings from playing at the Madison Garden, a location that was the brother's ambition to perform at. In 1887 Ringling Circus changed its official title to the "Ringling Bros. United Monster Shows, Great Double Circus, Royal European Menagerie, Museum, Caravan, and Congress of Trained Animals."

In 1906, Bailey died which led to the Ringlings taking over Forepaugh-Sells, which continued to operate separately. In October 1907, the stockholders of Barnum and Bailey's Circus approved the sale of the circus to the Ringlings. Due to World War I, Ringlings Circus and Barnum and Bailey's Circus were merged in 1919 as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.


Taking the promotion title of the circus, a 1952 drama film was made using the circus, called The Greatest Show on Earth. The film was produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille. The film was shot in Technicolor and released by Paramount Pictures. The setting of the film was the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The film starred Betty Hutton and Cornel Wilde as trapeze artists competing for the center ring, and Charlton Heston as the circus manager running the show. James Stewart starred in a supporting role as a mysterious clown who never removes his make-up, even between shows and Dorothy Lamour and Gloria Grahame play supporting roles.


Ringling Brothers Circus Wikipedia