in Honor of
Sylvie Pénichon & Nicéphore Niépce
In May 2016, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey is retiring all elephants from their circus. The End of an Era…the Circus Elephant is the first of a 45 part series covering a wide range of topics using photographs from the Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection.
Shrine Circus elephant – Ohio Valley
Photo by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
As our world change and things become history it is very important for photogs to document what once was for future generations.
When I was growing up in L.A., textured roofs were fairly common near the Miracle Mile. One day when I was visiting I noticed they were all gone except for a single example that I could find. That roof was leaking and scheduled for replacement as well.
Another relic from L.A. was the concrete incinerator. Most houses had them in the back yard. They were very popular for burning trash. In the 1950’s they were outlawed
Not that long ago when there were high diving horses on New Jersey’s Steel Pier. Many people don’t know this. Even after decades of operation there are only a few photos of the act to be found. So many things going extinct for the social documentary photog to archive.
The circus revived the diving horse act for a short time, but has discontinued it.
1961- Shirley Peterson with ‘Gimael’ diving into a 38,000 gallon tank at the Hamid-Morton Circus. A note on the back of the print says ‘The negative was lost!”
If PETA has its way all animals used for enjoyment and forced labor would be stopped.
No more rodeo.
No more hunting.
All the zoos would be emptied.
Equestrian games and horse racing stopped.
Bullfighting would be extinct.
1936 – Mexican bullfighter in Madrid substituting for a Spanish matador, who are on strike.
Is all this good or bad?
I don’t take sides…I just document my world.
In any case, the circus has a long history of using animal acts to entertain people and the documentation of that history is the purpose of this post.
1840 – Palmyre Annato
1886 – Chiarini Chikanobu
Even if no animals are used there is pain, suffering and death in the circus….
1962 – Mario Wallenda, who was crippled in a fall, watches his family perform.
Here are some vintage press photos and snapshots from the Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection to memorialize the end of an era…the circus elephant.
1921 – Minnie, a dying zoo elephant. In the photos that follow you will see a lot of hand retouching. Before Photoshop, it was not uncommon to add some art handwork to the press photo if things needed improving. Here they have drawn in some background.
1922 – Trying to right a sick ‘Hattie.’ – Central Park N.Y.C.
1922 – Preparing a taxidermy specimen. The largest female elephant ever killed. Roosevelt Memorial Museum of Natural History N.Y.C.
1923 – Langer Circus School, England.
1926 – Recovering a five ton escaped circus elephant that terrorized Kansas for 4 days.
1929 – Republicans christening their mascot.
1934 – An elephant looking for snacks at the London Zoo.
1934 – Osceola Seminole Indians – Florida
1936 – Children mesmerized by the elephant circus parade.
1936 – Loyola Lions visit the Los Angeles Zoological Park.
1937 – Trainer Jean Allen and aerialist Bertha Denham leave the Chicago train station and arrive at the Cole Brothers Circus via pachyderm.
1938 – Madison Square Garden, a Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephant plays dead in a rehearsal.
1939 – Quebec, a 8 foot long, 6 foot high snow elephant made by 2 boys.
1939 – Photo by James Thomas
1939 – N.Y.C. Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey unloading a train full of animal acts at the Mott Haven Yards for a show at the Garden.
1940 – With a heat wave in Chicago nearing 100 degrees, circus elephant ‘Nancy’ cools off.
1940 – Americans at Work radio show. Jack Knell interviewer is siting atop ‘Ruth’ a Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephant at Madison Square Garden, N.Y.C. with Eric McGill, Producer / Director listening.
1940 – Cleveland Zoo recovers escaped elephant. – Ohio
Photo by James Mell
During the WWII years of 1941-1945 the historical record is slim for photos of circus elephants. All domestic efforts were concentrated on the war.
Here is a before and after comparison to show you the amount of post processing that was used for some of the photos. The press photos varied from very good to poor in image quality.
1946 – Cleveland, OH – Back of photo marked ‘Reversed print.’
Photo by Glenn Zahn
1947 – Patricia Cooney and Dennis Hughes at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey show at Madison Square Garden N.Y.C.
1947- Edward Raymond, clown for the Shriners Circus visiting kids at the Shrine Hospital. – Chicago.
1950 – The ‘circus comes to town’ parade. – N.Y.C.
1951 – Pre-show practice. – Spokane, WA
1951- Four year old Nanette Sharkey of Baltimore, MD greets ‘Betty’ at the Paris Vincennes Zoo.
1951 – Elephants keeping in shape while wintering in Ft. Myers, FL. at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey compound.
1952 – Gift to the Franklin Park Zoo. – Boston, MA
1952 (est) – Rosemary Adair of the Clyde Beatty – Cole Brothers Circus. – Sarasota, FL
1952 – Clyde Beatty Circus. – Spokane, WA.
1952 – ‘Teola’ , Nino Marcel and Ed McConnell in elevator at CBS Television City, Los Angeles, CA for show Smilin Ed’s Gang.
1953 – Trainer Floyd Smith and assistant Joe Stephens work on ‘Honey’ the dancing elephant who has irritated feet from too much contact with concrete. – St. Louis, MO.
1953 – Shrine Circus elephant scoops up a trunk of snow in Chicago.
1953 – Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. – Spokane, WA.
1953 – San Diego Zoo new arrival ‘Peaches’, an African elephant from Portuguese East Africa.
Photo by Richard Van Nostrand
1954 – London Zoo
1954 – ‘Babe’ 4 ton circus elephant. – St. Paul, MN.
1955 – Off US-31 in Holland, MI, ‘Roxie’ a 5 ton circus elephant lays on her side with a bad case of colic. Susan Bible tries to comfort her after the vet pumped thousands of units of penicillin and glucose into the elephant.
1956 – Street cleaner Tom Perraro ponders the cleanup of a circus elephant that died during a heat wave in N.Y.C.
1956 – The Big Top!
1956 – Lorraine Parker (left) and Annette Sinclair meet ‘Dumbo’ at the London Zoo.
1957 – Pre-show practice. – Cleveland, OH.
Photo by Frank Alexsandrowicz
1957 – A tiny Dik-Dik stands between a massive elephant at Rowland Ward’s taxidermy shop in London. Both are taxidermy mounts.
1959 – Althoff Circus – Nuremberg, Germany.
1959 – Secretary of State Robert Zimmerman (Rep) rides ‘Blanche’ at the Circus Museum in Baraboo, WI.
1960 – El Paso Zoo, Texas.
1961 – ‘Bimbo’ the worlds only waterskiing elephant. – San Diego, CA
1961 – London Zoo
1961-Togni Circus, Rome
1961 – A gift from the children of India arrives at a port in Norfolk, VA. A crane is used to hoist it off the ship where it will be loaded onto a truck to be delivered to a zoo in Washington, D.C.
1961- Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephants taking a water break after being unloaded off the train for the show at the Coliseum in Spokane, WA
1962 – 18 year old Gloria Paul taking a ride on ‘Candy’ at the Zoo in Chessington, England.
1963 – Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus arrive in Spokane, WA parading the animal troupe en route to the Coliseum traveling on West Riverside, north on Division and west on Boone.
1967 – Zoo in Europe.
Photo by B. Miedza
1971 – Wild African Elephant
1971 – Description on verso: Ethpawura – the wall of elephants whcih runs around the Ruwanveliseya Dagaba, Anuradhapura, Ceylon / Alternate description: Ruwanwelisaya in the sacred city of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka
1971 – Spokane, WA
1971 – Reading, Berkshire, England – ‘Birma’ with four year old Shane Smart, son of Billy Wilson Smart of the famous circus family.
1973 – Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephants taking a food break after being unloaded off the train.
1974 – Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey miniature circus created by Ernie and Virginia Palmquest.
1974 – Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus with William ‘Buckles’ Woodcock.
1975 – London Zoo
1975 – Zippity Zoo night – Cleveland, OH
1975 (est) – Circus Vargas
1980 – ‘The Elephant’ in the ‘Stone Forest’- Kunming, China
1981 – Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephant arriving by train. – Cleveland, OH.
Photo by David I. Andersen
1984 – Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. – St. Petersburg, FL
1984 – ‘Lucy’ the Elephant – Margate, NJ
1984 (est) – Circus Vargas
1986 – The Greatest Show on Earth! Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus – Cleveland, OH
1986 – Ben Barkin
1990 – Joel Starr at the Clark County Fair
1991 – Shrine Circus – Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds, WA
Photo by Lisa D. Finoer
2012 – Shriners Circus – Ohio Valley
Photo by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
2013 – Shriners Circus – Ohio Valley
Photo by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
2013 – Pittsburgh Zoo
Photo by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
Photographs used herewith were taken in part from the following artists’ books by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
The End of an Era
In Their Day
Girls of the Beat Generation
A forthcoming 6 volume artists’ book series by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
A complete list of artists’ books by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.