Ivan’s Editorial


My name is Ivan M. Henry and I am the creator of thecircusblog.com.

I would like to talk to you about the Circus and the people that make their living in it. For several hundred years the circus in one form or other has brought joy, thrills, laughter and excitement but more than that it offers clean family entertainment and has done so the world over. The performers of the American circus have done more to help their country than most. One American president said, “They give away the only thing they have to sell.” Circus people have always been ready and willing to come the aid of people in need–performing for charitable organizations, hospitals, USO shows, and benefit shows too numerous to mention. We’ve existed for almost 3,000 years and have never been censored or ridiculed, until now.

Now I’d like to get to my point. For the past several years, I have found it extremely annoying that the media in general along with our political leaders find it amusing and to their advantage to use the word ‘circus’ in a derogatory manner. I am sure you’ve heard this negative expression as well.

In recent years the term, ‘circus’ but particularly ‘three-ring-circus’ has, I believe inaccurately, been identified with chaos, confusion, frivolity and excess. But if you have ever had the privilege to work on or with a circus, you would know that the show is entirely about organization, skill and absolute precision. There is nothing confusing about the show itself, only the lack of focus by the patron who wants to see all the action in all the rings at once, rather than focusing on the individual accomplishments in each.

Why do you think the U.S. military would watch the coordination of train and truck shows for valuable insight into the speed and coordination of loading, unloading and set-up of gear, animals, equipment and performers? And it is not just our military. Before and during WWII, the German army watched and learned the precision timing that Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey used during their European tours.

Historically, the circus has been a melting pot of color, creed and nationality. A true representation of what America is all about. The difference is, in the circus we do not politicize our differences. Presently many of our elected officials have become proficient at exploiting just about everyone for political gain. And sadly, our media outlets, which were once the beacon of truth and information for our citizens, now have the dubious distinction of not only being complicit but of over-sensationalizing for political and monetary gain.

In recent years, there has been an underlying, subliminal attack on the character of circus performers as uneducated, footloose and fancy-free and generally irresponsible. On the contrary, it is a decent society of people who care about each other, the audience and the world around them. My father used to say, “The show must always go on,” however it meant more than that. It meant being responsible because each circus worker, from performer to prop hand has a specific function that is integral to the coordination and timing of each show as well as the overall success of your community. There is no reward in failure. He was trying to impart the philosophy that it is important to live every aspect of your life with integrity and a purpose, and with the understanding that you are here for a reason. Never forget God the Creator.

In certain segments of modern entertainment, instead of progressing we have regressed. We are supposed be morally and intellectually progressive, but as a society we, and our entertainment outlets in particular have lost our morality and the educational benefits to our youth. Rather than patronize the circus, which was once the cutting edge of entertainment and is still the last bastion true artistry in every genre from aerial ballet to comedic timing, and the breathtaking feats of balance that only circus performers would dare to attempt.  And let’s not forget the awe-inspiring talents of circus trainers that are so adept at utilizing the intellect and dexterity of of their animal charges, ranging from dogs to sea lions to horses and elephants–all of the wonderful and beloved creatures of the circus. We now rely on the smoke and mirrors of digital technology to satiate our thrill-seeking natures. We want our TV, movies and video games to be the bloodiest, raunchiest–but what is the value in this type of entertainment? The circus provides the honest thrill of watching the magic of human dexterity and perfection that comes from practice and dedication.

I am amazed at the ignorance of the people that ridicule and demean the circus profession. My goal is to educate the ignorant and perhaps invite them to see an American tradition, the circus. Go into the backyard of the circus and meet and talk with those performers. And just maybe you’ll run away with the circus and if you do, you’ll be a better human being for it.


40 Responses to “Ivan’s Editorial”

  1. Alia Rodriguez says:

    I totally agree with this… my parents & i read this together & we agree 100%.. my parents are now retired performers but they are in managment..

  2. Cappi says:

    Well said Ivan. Having only worked in the biz for 3 years back in the 70″s I learned so much about organizational skills, timing and people skills working with the public. I’ve also noted over the past 35 years that when this great country is in economic turmoil the circus and carnival business is a great escape and financially feasible entertainment for a family. Last year I took my adult son to a Red Sox game, the tickets were over $200 EACH, not counting the 4 beers 4 hot dogs and the program. I figured it cost me about $500+ for a friggen ball game. That’s a lot of money for 4 hours and the Sox LOST. Keep up the good work I love thecircusblog. Cappi

  3. casey gibbs says:

    Ivan, I talked to Gary yesterday and they had just moved him out of the ICU to room 516. He sounded a lot better i talkked to him for about 15 min. He was scared because he was having a hard time breathing and thought he may have a heart problem. He really appericated you calling. If you get a chance check in with him agin. Going to see Joann and Pee Wee tomoorow they are stoping over on thier to Denver. Casey

  4. Good job on the comments Ivan. I have had a great time running thtrough the Siebrand part. You sure have put a LOT of work intio this site: Being a part of this show bussiness world made a big difference in my live and the things I learned on the show have stayed with me and helped me very much . Your right. It was a priveledge to be there . Thanks Sandy (Danny & Trina’s Daughter )

  5. Ivan, Presently the Circus Fans Association of America is working on a media press release that would make the news industry aware of how offensive their mis-use of the word circus is. Please contact me at circus4youth@earthlink.net so I can put you in touch with the right people.

    Jim Cole

  6. John Fees says:


    I work with you son Bob Wallace. I am a big fan of the days in Phx of Legend City. If you have any of the old Legend City artwork – posters, logos etc, photos, I would be interested in working to commission some art for my offices with it as the source of inspiration.

    Get well soon – I look forward to meeting you.

    John Fees

  7. Ken Slusser says:

    Thank You for telling it how it is.
    Good luck with your surgery.
    I know my father and brother Chester and Dave (HIHO the clown) Slusser were big Circus fans and enjoyed your work.
    Thank You for helping to preserve this history.

  8. Gerry says:

    Hi! I see that you posted the pics that I enlarged for you at Officemax the other day. They look good!! I think your blog is pretty cool. Best of luck on educating the public about the wonderful things the circus has to offer. I enjoyed going to see circuses very much as a child and would like to go to one again someday. I plan to go to see the Circ De Sole in Vegas when I have the $. Take care.

  9. Dear Mr. Henry:
    It is a pleasure to write to you. Congratulations on the work you have been doing on your blog. My name is Jamie MacVicar and I am the published author of a newly released book, The Advance Man: A Journey Into the World of the Circus. The book is a multi-dimensional narrative about my time as an advance man for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Not only does it provide first hand insight into the world of the Circus, but it provides readers with unique marketing strategies. Please click on the Amazon link below for a full description, along with customer reviews.
    The book was recently spotlighted by Feld Entertainment for its unique contribution to marketing at the National Sports Forum in Baltimore, attended by executives involved in marketing for the NFL, NBA, etc. And Joe Lewi on his Event and Entertainment Marketing blog recently wrote, “The book is addictive. The people and stories shape how we market today.”
    I would be grateful if you would put forth your own comments, or do a review of the book on your blog site. If you are willing, please give me a mailing address and I’d be delighted to send you a complementary copy. With much thanks, Jamie MacVicar 703-310-4365

  10. Robert Perry says:

    hi mr henery
    my cousin in melbourne australia they had 2 elephants but just before xmas one died
    now the animal fanatics are giving them hell wanting them to put the 1 elephant in a zoo
    if any one would like to sighn the petition the web site above will give all details
    and how can i get a copy about the great article you wrote for the circus.

    my email is robert.perry3@bigpond.com

    Regards Robert Perry

  11. Joe Brett says:

    It was the circus and later the movies that taught most of us kids how to act like men and the lessons have lasted a lifetime. Where would we be without Tom Mix, Bert Lancaster and his pal Nick and the hundreds of other athletic stars who filled our imaginations with wonder and the thrill of the adventures that awaited when we grew up.
    Your blog is terrific and meeting you in person even better

    I look forward to our lunch meeting
    Joe Brett

  12. Hey Ivan this is Danny’s & Trina’s daughter:boy do I have something for you. I need a mailing address to send to:: DVD of old 35mil.film Mom took while on several shows. Lots with Seibrand. See if you can find Billy Pollenberg(Bear Act)

  13. Hey why don’t you call me with that info. I’m going to the PO soon

  14. I found your site through research engine several moment ago, and luckily, that is the only facts I was searching for the last hours

  15. LeeAnn says:

    I see you are a friend of Ron Nix.
    He will be honored with the Spirit of the Old West Alive award Oct 17, 2010 at the Wild Western Festival at Sahuaro Ranch Park 59th Ave & Mountain View.

  16. Rob Ray says:

    I have never thought of this in that manner. You have changed my view. A 3 ring circus to me is now defined as organized exciting fun. Never again will I classify chaos as a 3 ring circus. I do love the circus. I just moved to Vermont from Tucson Az. and attended Circus Smirkus. It was a blast.

  17. Tim Hickey says:

    Hello Ivan,
    I would love to hear what more you have to say about Lowe, Hite and Stanley.
    My great uncle Freddy Hickey played ‘Stanley’ and I am researching his life.
    Tim Hickey

  18. Robin says:

    After 40+long years, we are in touch! Great to reminice about our circus days.
    Your circus editorial should make everyone, who reads it, stop and think. I especially
    enjoyed the verbage, beneath each poster and/or photograph, which makes them so much more, alive. I am looking forward to more interesting and informative discussions.
    With regards, Robin…..

  19. Steph says:

    I’m based in the UK and perform different aerial acts and I am deperate to try iron jaw/dental spin but can’t find anyone to help me make the mouth piece (I have been searching for 7 months) I don’t even know what it looks like!
    Can you help me at all please?
    I would really appreciate it.

  20. William C.Shoop says:

    Your site is awesome.I hope Im not alone in saying how much I miss quality entertainment.The likes of which the people featured on this site represented.Today when I watch television all I see is mediocrity.People with little or no talent.Most couldnt hold a candle to what great mud shows featured even on the smallest show.Very little variety today.Those that are hyped as great are at best bland performers.
    Im just glad I got to see and meet so many of the circus greats.These people,god rest their souls,were truly with it and for it.They gave everything they had to create first class entertainment.You couldnt beat the prices either.Small wonder Americans are bored with radio,tv,and most live entertianment today.Its pathetic and the prices highway robbery.
    Thank you for keeping the memorys of the real circus alive.

  21. Shaun Hull says:

    Hi Ivan, I just come across you site, it’s amazing some great photo’s and info, thank you

  22. Mike Marryat says:

    Ivan, sorry it has taken me several weeks to again say thanks for lunch and most of all for taking time to visit after all these years. i thoroughly enjoyed myself.
    I would like to wish you and your bride, Marji a very special holiday season. i hope to visit with you again to cut up some jackpots.

  23. Angela Snow says:

    Hi Ivan,

    This is a great blog you have! I wanted to send you a note as a fellow circus lover looking to preserve and highlight its culture. I’m making a circus documentary, “World Circus Culture”, which will reveal the behind the scenes life, history, and culture of circus on an international scale as never seen before.

    Please visit the link for more info, to see a video, and to support the film! Maybe send me an email, as there may be a way to collaborate!

    THE LINK –



  24. Jenna says:

    I am a graduate student and I am doing a research paper on circus posters and playbills. I am interested in the history of them and their typographical design. I was wondering if you have any knowledge or reference to material about this information? Please feel free to respond or email me thanks so much!

  25. Guil Fisher says:

    Ivan, how can I get in touch with you? Regarding Chuck Burnes?

  26. melia anthony says:

    I am blessed to have found this Blog. Thank you Ivan M. Henry

  27. Kimberlyn Day says:

    I truly enjoyed your blog and photos. My grandfather and great grandfather (Russell and Dickerson Lowe) were part of the “Christy Flyers” in the early 1900’s. My grandfather fell and left the circus, but his father stayed on as “Shorty the Cop”. After he retired he built a miniature circus (the size of a ping pong table) depicting the big top tents, side shows, back lot life and train. As a child I grew up admiring and knowing that “the circus” was in our blood. Our family is very proud of this heritage and wish we knew more about what my grandfather and great grandfather did. I would love to know where to research the Christy Bros. Circus and its heritage. Unfortunately, I think we took it for granted that “they were circus people” and never truly appreciated the uniqueness. Thank you for bringing this all to light!

  28. Betsy Morse Armour says:

    UNCLE IVAN – CALL ME!!!!!!!! 805-520-3450 or 805-390-9723!!!

  29. Ivan,

    Some King-Cole Circus act negs from 1955 surfaced from my photo images and I just finished scanning and archiving them in case you are interested (included are: The Great Kareff, The Hungaria Risley act, The Sons of Morocco acrobats, web girls, and Johnny Harzell aerial trapeze Troupe).
    Also, as previously e-mailed, I have some corrections, more info, and a couple new pics, but need your e-mail address for uploading the files to you.


    Jerry Gildemeister

  30. Sean says:

    I am writing to you Ivan on behalf of GREASEPAINT, a new documentary about NOJOE CLOWN CIRCUS, a traveling family act. The film follows them on the road as they struggle to maintain a wonderful show and deal with the financial and emotional stress of performing.

    Along the way there are interviews with Pat Cashill of Clownalley, Jim Howle, Jackie LeClaire, the International Clown Hall of Fame and a dozen other legendary performers.

    We’d love to share it with you if you are interested in writing about it and we can help promote your blog as well!

  31. Susan says:

    What a beautiful site you have here. I just happen to stumble upon it doing research. As a child my sister’s and I lived at Jungleland,or so it seemed. Mabel Starke trained my Grandmother (Genie) to work the “Big Cats”as well. Mabel and my Grandmother were very dear friends,along with Tex and Ida, and so many of the Jungel land family and that’s exactly what it was, a family. Some do not understand that if they have never been around it. Jungleland,Mabel Starke,Tex and Ida and counless others will continue to remain a continuous part of our lives. It’s still such a thrill to go through all the old photos and Hollywood Contracts as to what time my Grandmother had to have specific animals (all of which she trained ) to be on spacific sets. What an amazing time for Jungle land and the people of Thousand Oaks.Thank you for your wonderful hard work.

  32. Bruno Loyale says:

    Thanks for the very nice words and my pictures you have posted in your blog. This is the first time that I have ever seen these pictures and they brought back amazing memories.

    Yes, I am still alive and out here in the Pacific Islands with my circus and travel island to island for now 30 years!

    Kindest regards,


  33. Joe Buzzitta says:

    Hopefully someone can help me identify a lion wagon that I am in the process of buying. I was told that it came out of Longmont, CO about 50 yrs ago and the man that bought it was told it came from a circus. (Not sure if that is true – but it is a really cool piece)

    It is not a fancy ornate one but rather plane. On the back door is a wooden circle with a lion painted on it. The wagon stands about 8′ tall and is on a heavy base wagon.
    I have pictures as well and am looking for more information before I start to restore it.

    Thanks so much,

  34. Cirque Magique, dinner theatre, located at 6400 Carrier Dr. Orlando Florida has a special ticket price from not through January 31, 2016, use code CHTIC15. All tickets are $15.00 each good up to 8 people. The ticket price is for dinner and the circus. For more information contact 407-206-5102 or visit thecirquemagique.com.

    Dan Baltulonis

    Dan’s Number NOT For Publication

  35. Morrie Warshawski says:

    Thanks for this great blog!
    My wife and I are bringing the wonderful Zoppe Italian Family Circus to Napa CA Oct. 1 and 2 (see full prese release below). If you know any circus fans in Northern Calif I hope you will urge them to attend.

    July 13, 2016
    Contact: Evy Warshawski (707.501.8567/707.224.4353)

    Napa-based presenting company, E & M Presents, brings


    Saturday, Oct. 1 & 2, 2016 / Napa Valley Expo

    “Heartwarming and captivating and full of excitement!” – Redwood City Parent

    E & M Presents proudly announces the return of the Zoppe Italian Family Circus to the Napa Valley for five performances taking place at the Napa Valley Expo with the following schedule:

    Sat., October 1, 2:00pm and 5:00pm
    Sun., October 2, 11:00am, 2:00pm and 5:00pm

    Tickets: $20/general admission; $30 reserved, children under two, free on laps
    Tickets now available at http://www.EandMPresents.Eventbrite.com
    For information: 707-224-4353 / EandMPresents@gmail.com

    Zoppè Family Circus emerged from humble beginnings more than 160 years ago to become one of the legendary circuses in all of Europe. Today, Zoppè welcomes guests into its intimate 500 seat tent for a one-ring circus that honors the best history of the Old-World Italian tradition. Starring Nino the clown, the circus is propelled by a central story (as opposed to individual acts) that feature acrobatic feats, equestrian showmanship, clowning and plenty of audience participation.

    This year’s featured acts include:

    THE LOYAL FAMILY EQUESTRIANS – bareback vaulting accomplished by the eighth generation of the Loyal Family, including Timi Loyal, wife Liz; 14 year-old daughter Aurora; and 7 year- old daughter Suri. http://loyalvaulting.com/loyal-vaulting-circus-acts;

    FLYING TRAPEZE ARTIST & CONTORTIONIST DENISSE SANTOS – fifth generation circus performer from Mexico;

    HAIR-HANG ARTISTS, REBEKAH & SAMANTHA – aerial partners Rebekah Cavinder and Samantha Pitard are veterans of the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus

    UKRAINIAN STRONGMAN FAEBLE KIEVMAN – Kievman has worked as an actor, clown, circus artist, street performer, musician and all around entertainer in television commercials and in circuses worldwide;

    RINGMASTER RAOUL GOMIERO –hails from Italy and is a master theatre artist, juggler and clown;

    GIOVANNI ZOPPÈ, the sixth-generation circus performer who plays Nino, says the show aims higher than what passes for circuses these days. “We try to touch every emotion during the show. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll feel for the characters. It’s more of an event than a show.”

    “When the Opera House sponsored the circus here in 2010,” said Evy Warshawski, a partner in E & M Presents and former Executive/Artistic Director of the Napa Valley Opera House, “we ended up having the shows at the Veteran’s Home baseball fields in Yountville. But this time around, the circus will be much more accessible, with a slate of completely new acts. It’s family-friendly for all ages, and so much fun!”

    EVY & MORRIE WARSHAWSKI started E & M Presents in 2015 to fill an important gap in the cultural landscape of Napa Valley – presenting affordable, highly entertaining performing arts geared to families, as well as other performing arts events involving strong community partnerships

  36. Sonny king says:

    My Father performed the lion act an ran theOriginal Silvers Circus in Australia.
    I too am offended when various pundits etc, refer to some disorganized political event as being “…like a circus”.
    You nailed it in your excellent article. Circus is far from disorganized. Most run like clockwork.most folks today don’t even know that word but it means many moving parts all working seamlessly in conjunction with each other. That’s just part of the Circus!
    Sonny King
    Los Angeles

  37. Tamalyn Lopez says:

    I am always proud to tell people about my heritage, our lifestyle should be considered as a great example.
    Thank goodness for people like yourself for putting forward such a wonderful article.
    May the circus world forever have a voice.
    Tamalyn Lopez
    6th generation member of Australia’s Ashton Circus family

  38. Lucy Blackburn says:

    Hi, Ivan,

    I’m doing some research for a History Channel project and would love to chat with you.

    Can you please send me your contact info via the email I submitted on your form?

    Thank you in advance!

  39. admin says:

    lucy here is my cel 602 359 6372

  40. Mark P Henderson says:

    Hello Ivan.

    I just came across your blog, and am just starting to dive into it! I am excited to see how much I can learn. My paternal grandparents were part of the traveling circuses of the 1920s (mostly in the NJ/NY area), and we have hundreds of amazing photos of them. My dad is 84, and in great health. But he didn’t know his parents that well.

    I will dig and dig on here, but welcome any insight you have into other sources for circus history. My family members, and their roles in the circus:

    John Henderson: Band leader
    Myrtle Davis (AKA Myrtle Wadleigh and Myrtle Henderson): Cat trainer, elephant trainer
    John W. “Jack” Davis: Elephant trainer, laborer

    Thanks for your time and consideration. And thank you so much for sharing this wealth of amazing history!


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