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December 21, 2021

Fascinating Kodachrome Photos of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in the Late 1940s

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, also known as the Ringling Bros. Circus, Ringling Bros.,the Barnum & Bailey Circus, Barnum & Bailey or simply Ringling is an American traveling circus company billed as The Greatest Show on Earth. The circus started in 1919 when the Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth, a circus created by P. T. Barnum and James Anthony Bailey, was merged with the Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Shows. 

The Alzanas of the high wire

The Ringling brothers had purchased Barnum & Bailey Ltd. following Bailey's death in 1906, but ran the circuses separately until they were merged in 1919. After 1957, the circus no longer exhibited under its own portable “big top” tents, instead using permanent venues such as sports stadiums and arenas.

These photographs were taken by Charles Weever Cushman, an amateur photography, in the 1940s. Take a look at the performers through 23 fascinating Kodachrome photographs below:

All five Alzanas Highwire performers at Ringling Circus

Two Alzanas hang out their wash

Flying Trapeze star Antoinette Concello

Flying Concello doing some washing

Baton wielder takes time out for a break

A ‘circus beauty’ in pale lavender cap, coat and shorts

Rose Behee of the Flying Behees

‘A charming aerialist’

Rose Behee and brother-in-law

Rose Behee of the Flying Behees

The Flying Concellos

Two young German girls in head-on-head balancing act

Trick bicycling act

Mrs Harold Alzana

Alzana in costume for Gold Rush tableau

Francis Brunn and his sister – a juggling act

Harold Alzana

Rola Rola Man

Clown Emmett Kelly Tramp

Clown Felix Adler

Elephant and Mademoiselle Unus

Elephant and Miss Unus


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