Manny P. here…
“`After 146 years, the curtain comes down on The Greatest Show on Earth. The owners of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus permanently closes the show in May. The company broke the news to circus employees after shows in Orlando and Miami. Ringling Bros. has two touring circuses this season, and will perform 30 more shows. Major stops include Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, and Brooklyn. The final shows will be in Providence, Rhode Island on May 7th, and in Uniondale, New York, at the Nassau County Coliseum on May 21st.
“`The circus, with exotic animals, flashy costumes, and death-defying acrobatics, has been a staple of entertainment in the United States. P.T. Barnum traveled with a spectacle of human oddities, while the five Ringling brothers performed juggling acts and skits from their home in Wisconsin. Soon, they merged, and the modern circus was created. Troupes traveled by train to cities and towns, wowing audiences with the sheer scale of entertainment.
“`By mid-century, the circus was considered wholesome, family fun. Cecil B. DeMille produced the Oscar-winning adventure that was an year’s Best Picture of 1952. It starred Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, Charlton Heston, Gloria Grahame, Dorothy Lamour, and James Stewart donning clown makeup in each of his scenes. The movie was appropriately called The Greatest Show on Earth.
“`More recently, children became less enthusiastic due to flicks, television, the internet, and video games. The national spectacle has been felled by various factors. Declining attendance, rising operating costs, changing public tastes, and lingering battles with animal rights groups all contributed to its upcoming demise. Ringling Bros. tried to remain relevant, hiring a first African American ringmaster, its first female ringmaster, and launching an interactive app. It added elements from its other popular shows, such as motorbike daredevils and ice skaters. Last year’s sudden nationwide fear of clowns was the final nail in the coffin.
“`500 people perform and work on both touring shows. A handful will be placed in positions with some of the company’s other profitable shows: Monster Jam, Disney on Ice, and Marvel Live. But, most will be out of a job.
“`Dick Gautier was an actor and comedian. He’s best known for his television role as Hymie the Robot in Get Smart. In 1974, Burt Ward and Yvonne Craig reprised their Batman roles for a televised public service announcement about equal pay for women. Adam West tried to distance himself from the Caped Crusader role, and declined to participate. Gautier filled in.
“`In 1960, Gautier portrayed fictional rock n roll singer Conrad Birdie in the original Broadway production of Bye Bye Birdie, receiving a Tony Awards nod for his performance. In cinema, he appeared in Ensign Pulver, Divorce American Style, and Fun with Dick and Jane. On the small screen, he guest-starred in Gidget, The Patty Duke Show, Bewitched, and as a celebrity panelist on Match Game.
“`Dick Gautier was 85.
Until next time> “never forget”