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Wheeler the Clown Wheeler the Clown                       Presents

John Ringling NorthExpert Circus Quiz  

(for those who really know their circuses)

The Answers


  1. Which Academy Award winners was a circus performer prior to his/her acting career?
b. Yul Brynner, best known for the role of King Mongkut of Siam in The King and I, was a trapeze artist for the Cirque d'Hiver. A serious accident (from which he was told at the time he would be paralyzed) caused him to switch to an acting career.
   2. Who is credited for performing the first documented quadruple somersault on the flying trapeze?
e. Although Tito Gaona claims to have accomplished this amazing feat months earlier (during a practice) Miquel Vazquez was the first to perform a fully documented (Videotaped) quadruple somersault, in 1981 (also during a practice. He performed the feat in front of an audience in 1982.
  3. In the 982 edition of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the famous midget performer, Michu, starred in a comedy act spoofing bareback riders. What were Michu's "horses?"
b. Michu's "horses" were actually trained poodles
  4. In the 1964 movie, Circus World," who played a superstitious performer whose heritage and head were in the clouds on a trapeze, but whose feet were kept firmly on the ground by a stepdad who kept the performer playing such parts as a sharpshooter and a circus clown?
e. Claudia Cardinale (her stepdad was played by the legendary John Wayne)
  5. Which actor/actress is a survivor of the Hartford Fire disaster?
a. Charles Nelson Reilly was one of the children attending that fateful circus. He escaped unharmed physically, but has had a fear of being in crowds ever since.

  6.

What Circus originally owned the first elephant born in captivity?
b. On March 10, 1880, (while at winter's quarters) Cooper & Bailey Circus's female elephant, Hebe, gave birth to Columbia, the 1st elephant to be born in captivity.
  7. In the early 1960s, brothers and circus owners John Ringling North and Henry Ringling North became citizens of what country? 
e. Both brothers became citizens of Ireland
 8. Besides his usual fare of hay, fruits, bread, etc., what did the famous Jumbo' trainer give the huge elephant as an occasional treat?
c. Jumbo's trainer, Matthew Scott, is said to have allowed the elephant to indulge in an occasional bottle of whiskey.
  9. Sometime after Jumbo's tragic death, part of the famous elephant's carcass was donated to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. What was the gift?
b. After Jumbo died, P.T. Barnum gave away as personal gifts parts of the elephant's large tusks which could not be mounted with the rest of the skeleton. Some of these pieces of tusk eventually made their way to the Smithsonian Institute.
 10. In 1956, several clowns (Emmett Kelly Senior, Otto Griebling, Felix Adler, and Poodles Hanneford) left the employ of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Why did they leave?
a. They resigned in support of a strike of the circus's non-performing personnel.
11. The Hartford Fire was not the first disaster to strike the American circus. On August 4, 1942, what happened to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus?
c. On that date, a fire in the menagerie tent caused 65 animal deaths, but no human fatalities.
12. In 1938, the Ringling Brother's and Barnum and Bailey was judged to owe several years back taxes due to the tax fraud conviction of John E. Kelley. How much in back taxes did the circus end up paying the Federal government?
b. Although it was determined that the circus owed $3,080,000 in back taxes, the Federal Government realized that their was no way to collect the entire amount. They settled for a more obtainable $800,000 payment.
13. According to the most reliable sources, which of the following acts was in the program but was not actually scheduled to perform the day of the tragic Hartford Fire of 1944?
e. Although listed on the program as the main big cat trainer, Alfred Court was not even in attendance during that performance. May Kovar and Joseph Walsh, listed on the program as assistant cat trainers, were just finishing their performances when the fire broke out. Emmett Kelly Sr. and Ella Bradna were scheduled to perform later in the show. 
14. What year marked the last time that the Ringling Brothers and Barn & Bailey Circus performed under the big top?
a. John Ringling NorthAt the end of the shortened season in1956, John Ringling North announced that the days of the tented circus is over, and from then on, the circus performed in permanent arenas at its various locations (diehard circus performers and fans never forgave him.
15. Which of the following was not one of the "human oddities" appearing at one time in the Barnum & Bailey Circus? 
c. The Feejee Mermaid, while exhibited by P.T. Barnum, was neither a real human oddity nor part of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. This hoax (actually the remains of a monkey and a fish, sewn together) was part of Barnum's pre-circus American Museum. The others were all real human oddities and were part of Barnum & Bailey's 1898 circus. 
16. Which of the following clowns was never a part or full owner of a circus?
c. Albert Fratellini had no circus connections. He performed strictly on the stage with two of his brothers, Francois and Paul.
17. Circus performers, like movie stars, often perform under stage names. What was famous sharpshooter and circus attraction Annie Oakley's real name?
c. Annie's real name was Phoebe Ann Moses.
18. What, in circus terminology, is a galop? 
b. a fast paced circus tune, usually played at the beginning or end of the performance
19. What is a funambulist?
c. any type of ropewalker (tightrope, slack rope, etc.) 
20. What was the kidshow?
d. In circus terminology, the kidshow was any extra show on the midway; but in particular it meant the sideshow, with its human oddities, snake charmers, etc.   
21. In 1944, the famous Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus's famous grand spectacle featured famous clown Emett "Weary Willie" Kelly, Sr. What was this spectacle called?
d. Panto's Paradise
22. Who said it? "There is only one Jumbo and only one Gargantua"
b. John Ringling NorthJohn Ringling North
23. Which of the following circus figures ran for public office?
e. In 1868 Dan Rice was nominated for both the congress and the Presidency. He lost. And P. T. Barnum was elected to the Connecticut Legislature in 1864 and as mayor of Bridgeport Connecticut in 1874. In between those offices, he lost a bid for congress in 1867.
24. P. T. Barnum designed one of his famous mansions, Iranistan, after the oriental pavillion of what European monarch?
d. Iranistan was modelled after the oriental pavillion of King George IV of England
25. Who or what was Jomar?
b. Jomar was the lavish private railway car owned by John Ringling. Designed and built especially for him in 1904, the Jomar was 82 feet long and had eight staterooms. 
26. Which of the following is not one of Emmett Kelly Sr.'s early circus occupations?
b. A comic equestrian is one of the few occupations that Emmett Sr. did not perform for the circus. (but another famous tramp, Otto Griebling did).


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 definitely 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. Boy you really do know your circuses.

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     This Page was updated on: 06/10/2004