George Matthew’s Great London Circus

Posted By on March 13, 2013

Great London Circus Sid KellnerSid Kellner was the owner of the show. He took the first names of his two sons George and Matthew to title the name of the circus. Many years before Great London Sid had The James Bros Circus. Dad and I worked our acts with Sid’s show on and off for many seasons. Never had to worry……he was and is still a stand up person. I spoke with him a few days ago, and he is still as sharp as a tack……………. at 91 years old.

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About the author

My name is Ivan M. Henry and I am the 4th generation of a circus/show business dynasty. I hope you enjoy the blog.

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8 Responses to “George Matthew’s Great London Circus”

  1. Teri says:

    Hi Ivan! Just came across your blog while looking up some info on George Matthew’s Great London Circus. I worked for Sid’s circus in promotions starting in 1974 in the Kansas City Mo area until 1975. I always worked ahead of the circus but every now and then I’d still be in town for it’s arrival. That’s how I met you and all the other entertainers. Lou Ann Jacobs was with the us at the time. Oh, and the blue haired clown. Can’t remember his name but I do remember that he bugged you until you agreed to let him work with your chimps one day. It didn’t last long. You tried to tell him! Ha!
    So glad to see that you’re doing well. How is Sid anyway? Goodness, he’d have to be in his 90’s. I read about George and it broke my heart. He was always so sweet to me. I never knew Matthew because he was with his mom due to his parents divorce. Doesn’t sound like things turned out very well for him either.
    Love your blog!

  2. Denise says:

    I grew up in Martinez, CA. The James Bros. Circus and Larry Davis Carnival rented a building behind our yard to repair carnival & circus equipment, rides & bleachers. They soon learned my father was a welder who helped them whenever they needed him. We met Vonda & Chester Cable and their sons Chetty, Ralphy & Alvin (and visited them at their house in Sebastopol), me Sid & Lovie Kellner and their sons George & Matt (went to high school with the boys). One summer, Sid & Lovie asked my parents for us to move into their house in the Briones Hills of Martinez to watch their boys. It was really fun because they had a swimming pool and a baby elephant named Elly (we took such good care of her), and an old caretaker named Bill (with half his teeth missing). I remember dad being shipped pieces to weld, and whenever the circus or carnival where in the area, we’d be contacted & invited as their guests with free tickets. We met Larry Davis, and went to his winter headquarters near Sears Point. This was such a great part of my later childhood having ANYthing to with a circus or carnival. The Cables were a great family. Unfortunately, we lost touch with all of them, but was broken-hearted when I head Chester & Vonda Cable divorced. I just have such great memories of them.

  3. Sylvia Hernandez DiStasi says:

    My family performed with James Bros in the late 60s early 70s.We were there when they had the blow down and then changed the name to George Mathews Great London. I always wonedered what happen to George and Matt, and others on the show at the time. Any updated info would be much appreciated. There was a hand balancing act called Roland and Marcia. They were my idols at the time.

  4. Mark says:

    Do you have a schedule from 1975? A childhood friend worked for this show during that season.

  5. Peter Montalbano says:

    Don’t think I met you, Ivan, but I spent the whole 1974 season with the Great London as lead trumpet and all-around helper (drove seat wagons those whole 7 months, among other things). I have a couple hundred pages of journal notes I wrote along the way, some of the most entertaining things I’ve ever written, though I’ve hardly shown them to anyone. Sid was a trip. I couldn’t help liking the guy on some level, but was relieved when I actually got all the money coming to me at the end, though, believe me. One of the great experiences of my 9 lives. Check out a short article I wrote right after, http://www.montalbano.org/Peter/Circus1.htm. Most of my own website is totally out of date, but that piece has a kind of immortality, I think.

  6. Wayne Mesker says:

    As a French Horn player I took a year of music ed at Akron U. got involved with Delta Tau Delta fraternity there , became their Vice President , lost my VA education benefits & ended up running off to drive a truck & be a roustabout for George Matthew’s Great London Circus
    http://www.thecircusblog.com/?p=40717
    I signed on in September at Cuyahoga Falls , finished the season & was told they were going to leave Cuyahoga Falls after a layover & head for Winter Quarters in California but they never did & I never got my final pay.

  7. Mary Wise says:

    I was the girl clown on the ’76 show, along with Pogo and Zippo. I was first of May that year. I hauled quarter poles at teardown and sold Hershey bars at intermission. That was the most memorable summer of my life!

  8. Diana Davis says:

    Hey. Zippo was the blue haired clown. I traveled with the show starting in Santa Monica in 1974 for one entire season and year. I helped set up the big top, worked in the office, drove the band bus and partied like a rock star with crew and some performers. Have tons of photos from those days. Me (Diana) and Marla joined in Santa Monica.

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