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Wheeler the Clown Wheeler the Clown                      Presents

The Ringling BrothersNovice Circus Quiz


The Answers

  1. Everyone is familiar with the circus bigtop. But what is (or was) the littletop?
c. In the days when such a thing was still a popular part of the circus, the littletop referred to the sideshow tent.
   2. Before being renamed Gargantua the Great by new owner John Ringling North, the famous gorilla with a definite hatred for men, was known as . . .
b. Gargantua's previous owner named him Buddha (but nicknamed him Buddy).
  3. Only one of the following famous clowns actually performed in the circus. Which clown is it?
a. Vitaly Lazarenko Sr. was active in the circus world of the USSR. The others were famous theatrical clowns. 
  4. Which of the following real life circus people appeared in the 1952 movie, The Greatest Show on Earth?
e. Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly Sr., John Ringling North, Jackie LeClaire, and Paul Jung all appeared in the movie.
  5. Which of the following was a sometimes employer / most times competitor of the famous and circus owner Yankee Dan Rice?
d. Gilbert Spaulding at times employed Dan Rice; at other times he was a bitter rival who even had Rice arrested on occasion. 


Which of the following words or phrases does not owe its existence or popularity to the circus world?
d. Joey, another term for a clown, was coined to honor the great Joseph Grimaldi, who performed strictly in a theatrical setting.
  7. "The Day the Clowns Cried" refers to a tragic example of what event which was common in the days of the tented circus?
d. A fire in one of the major circus tents (bigtop, small top, or menagerie). This particular bigtop fire, in Hartford Connecticut, was especially tragic because there were audience fatalities, most of whom were children. 
 8. Which of the following circus greats owned a circus first?  
d. "Yankee Dan" RiceYankee Dan Rice acquired his first circus in either 1850 or 1851. P.T. Barnum, whose name has become forever linked to the American circus, did not own a real circus until 1871.
  9. When a circus ringmaster pages "Mr. John Robinson,"  what does (s)he really mean?
c. Paging Mr. John Robinson tells the remaining circus acts that they need to be shortened to their most important tricks and stunts. It usually indicates that an emergency clearing of the big top is necessary.
 10. Clown "Yankee Dan" Rice, at the height of his career, was making around $200 a week more than which of his contemporaries?
e. Rice probably made more than any of them, but it is documented that his weekly salary was about $200 more than that of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln
11. What is "en ferocite?"
b. En ferocite, rarely seen today, refers to a style of wild animal act where the trainer appears to be battling with the wild beast rather than simply getting a wild animal to do tricks. It was made famous by Clyde Beatty.
12. In circus terminology, what is a "picture gallery?
b. In the days of the circus sideshow, picture gallery referred to the tattooed man or woman.
13. In the late 1950's, a television series called Circus Boy, starred a young man who would later become famous as a member of a popular rock group. Was it . . .?
d. Circus Boy starred a young man called Mike Braddock, at that time the the stage name of Mickey Dolenz who gained fame years later as part of the television rock group, the Monkees
14. What was the name of Yankee Dan Rice's trained pig that, among other tricks, could sort through a pile of flags to pick the American flag?
e. Yankee Dan's trained pig was called Lord Byron
15. Yankee Dan Rice was both clown and accomplished animal trainer. Which of the following did he not do?
b. Dan did not train lions to do various tricks
16. Which of the following does NOT belong in the same grouping?
c. Gargantua the Great does not belong. All of the others were animal partners of clowns. Gargantua, on the other hand, was a star in his own right; a man-hating gorilla.
17. Who is generally acknowledged as the presenter of the first American circus?
c. According to Tom Ogden, author of the book entitled 200 Years of the American Circus the presenter of the first American circus (in 1793) was John Bill Ricketts
18. Which of the following Danny Kaye films featured the famous comic star as a  circus clown?
b. In the 1958 film Merry Andrew, Danny Kaye played a professor who, while searching for a statue, joins a circus. (Kaye did play an impostor court jester, though (a clown of sorts) in the movie by that name)
19. Who was not an actor in the 1959 Disney circus classic, Toby Tyler?
a. Kurt Russell, a veteran of many Disney films, was not in the cast of Toby Tyler.
20. According to author Tom Ogden, in the days of the circus sideshow, which "freak" was always the most popular with the public (hence, the highest paid?
b. According to Tom Ogden, author of the book entitled 200 Years of the American Circus, co-joined (or Siamese) twins were the most popular of the sideshow freaks, often earning them a salary of as much as $800 - $1000 a week.
21. Gunther Gebel-Williams, possibly the greatest animal trainer of all times, once was quoted as saying that a certain language was the only one his cats understood. What was the language?
d. When asked once why his commands to his animals were in German, Gunther replied that German was the only language they understood. (Actually, he used both German and English commands with his animals.) 
22. Many countries have permanent buildings dedicated to circus performances. Where is the oldest permanent circus building located?
c. The Cirque d'Hiver (first called the Cirque Napoleon) has been in operation since 1852 and is located in Paris, France.
23. Which exotic animal (often seen in circuses) made its appearance in the United States first?
b. A captive lion was put on display in Boston, Mass. in 1716, several years before the camel or polar bear, about eight decades before the elephant, and centuries before the gorilla.  
24. Which circus did Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly Sr. not perform for during his career?
d. Emmett never performed for the Pickle Family Circus
25. What gave the very first batch of pink lemonade its distinctive color?
c. The story is told that, due to a high demand for lemonade during a performance and a water shortage, a lemonade vendor used water in which a red costume had recently been soaking in. The costume's dye gave the lemonade a pinkish hue. It was very popular that day, and (using more hygienic ingredients from then on) pink lemonade was born.
26. Who was not a firsthand witness of the Ringling Brothers' Barnum and Bailey Circus's tragic Hartford Fire of 1944 
e. John Ringling North was ousted from leadership in the circus during that season, thus was not in attendance on that fateful day. Largely due to the tragedy and charges of negligence on the part of those in command at the time, North was reinstated the following year.

Score 1 point for each correct answer. How did you do?
   0- 5pts. Can you even spell circus? You need to get out more.
 6-10pts. You must have seen a circus coloring book.
11-15pts. You appear to have slept through a circus or two.
16-20pts.  Okay, you probably attend the circus regularly, but spend too much time at the refreshment stand
21-26pts. Apparently, you know your circuses. Want to keep going?

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     This Page was updated on: 06/05/2004