Todd Henry

Posted By on July 20, 2017

This is my uncle Todd, a great guy, but of course I thought all my uncles were great. This photo was taken just before he enlisted into the Marine Corp. He fought at Iwo Jima and other bloody battles. He came back without a scratch. Todd received several war medals, but through time they were lost. My other uncles and my father tried to enlist  but could not enter into service because of injuries received while performing. For instance. my father was blind in his right eye.     

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My Mother and Sister

Posted By on July 20, 2017

The act was known as Toni Madison’s Wonder Dogs. On the left is my mother Mary Henry and on the right is my sister Janell. Mother thought that it was time to break in my sisters …….Janell and Charlotte into the business. The idea behind it was that one day they would have there own acts 

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Henry’s Rolling Globe

Posted By on July 20, 2017

Many of the photos that I have just posted were sent to me by my niece Jennifer Henry Tyler who is the daughter of the late Janelle Henry, my sister.  My long lost niece Jennifer happened to find me because of the circus blog. I had not seen her for over 35 years and what a wonderful surprise to be reunited. I want to thank Jennifer for all of the photos that she sent, many of which I had never seen before, like this Christmas card. The photo on this card was taken at a night club called The Paris Inn. During the winter my parents did many club dates and USO shows.

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Henry’s Chimps

Posted By on July 20, 2017

This is a photo of Dad and I in the beginning of our chimp act. Photo taken in 1956 on the Siebrand circus. My Dad was old school circus…. no joking or talking in the act…just perform the different tricks… style and smile. It got very boring for me. Then one day out of the clear blue Bongie started playing around in kind of a revolt, but in a funny way. The audience was getting a kick out of it because the chimp was making a monkey out of the me. Dad even got a laugh out of it. I started to teach other tricks like hand balancing head to head. Bongie even learned one hand, hand to hand. It seemed no matter what came into my mind to teach,  he learned and had fun doing it. Then came the table rizzeley routine, that’s when the comedy started….I just let him do his thing and the audience loved it!

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Toni Madison Wonder Dogs

Posted By on July 20, 2017

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My sister Charlotte on the left and Toni or Mary, my mother, on the right. It did not take long for Charlotte and Janell to learn the ropes of the circus. Each did web, swinging ladder, trapeze, rolling globe and juggling and if needed they worked the dog act. They were both eager to learn more. It came naturally for them to have a good stage presence.

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Mary Henry

Posted By on July 20, 2017

My mother’s stage name was Toni Madison. The reason she decided to change her name was because all of the Henrys had dog acts which made it hard to know what dog act the booking agent wanted. So Toni Madison’s Wonder Dogs was a good separation from the rest of the Henry clan.

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Mary Henry

Posted By on July 18, 2017

My mother did not come for a circus background. Mom did however had studied music and dance which made it easier for her to become a fine performer. Her singing voice was perfect and she could hit E above C. Knowing that she had a great voice, the show producers would ask her to open the show and she aways sang her favorite, God Bless America. It  would always bring the audience to their feet applauding her. 

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Clifford and Mary Henry

Posted By on July 18, 2017

In the early 1940’s my Mom and Dad did 5 acts in what ever show they were on. Henry Bros, Yankee Patterson, Arthur Bros and the 101 Wild West show and circus. Dad did comedy Trapeze, Flying Rings & Rolling Globe with Mom along with Mom’s Dog Act, Swinging, Ladder, Web and elephants when needed for the show. The purpose of  doing many acts was for more money. In those days you would average $25.00 per week per act. The most important thing was the cookhouse for your total family. Your deal with the circus cook house was always included. 

I’ll explain the cookhouse for those not familiar with circus life. All major and some small circuses carried  free food prepared in a large tent, or semi trailer. There was  a separate place for the working crew and the performers. In some cases performers would rather prepare there own food. The working crew and non-performers. were given food and found,….sleeping quarters…… and a small salary per week, as well tips form the performers. Actually they were quite happy with this arrangement. I think the idea of having a cookhouse came from the cattle ranch era. Cowboys got there food and a bunkhouse pulse a dollar a day. In recent years when I was still in the business, most cookhouses were no longer in use. It became a joke when you would negotiate for your salary, then ask for cookhouse. I do remember that Sid Kellener would feed his tent crew on set up day…………. Did not have too, he was just a nice guy.           

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Mary Henry

Posted By on July 18, 2017

 

I don’t know for sure,but I think this photo was taken in 1944 with my dad Clifford Henry. The elephant is Babe or Dutch. The circus was Yankee Patterson, produced by Jimmy Wood and Martin Arthur. 

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Bertram Mills Circus 1951

Posted By on July 18, 2017

This poster is the busiest I have ever seen. I do see the name La Tosca who I knew. She was a Canasterlli, I believe.

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