Gene De troy Chimps

Posted By on October 4, 2012

Getting ready to go on.1966.

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Gene Detroy Chimps

Posted By on October 4, 2012

The Gene Detroy chimps were probably the best theatrical act in there time. The only other act I can think of that topped them, was Gus Augsburg’s Jungle Wonders…..By my term theatrical I mean stage shows, clubs, etc but not circus. All though with a few miner adjustment in a circus chimp act can play Las Vegas type venues. I don’t think anyone then or now can compare with these two great acts.

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Gabriel Henry

Posted By on October 4, 2012

Gabe sits in one of our circus semis playing his drums.  He was only four at the time of this photo, taken at Legend City amusement Park in 1976. I was surprised by his rhythmic ability at such a young age.

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Shorty & Solon Henry

Posted By on October 4, 2012

My elephant Shorty’s best friend was my son Solon. If I would allow them they would play all day long and never get tired. The mud hole was their favorite spot. Solon would take off Shorty’s chains, grab the water hose and the fun started. Shorty was capable of taking off his own leg chains. He figured out a way to undo the chain clevis using one foot and his trunk finger. His back chain was even simpler he would pull up the stake. Shorty never took off….. he just wanted to visit sometimes at 3:00 am.  He would come to the trailer door and gently push it …..just enough to rock the trailer to awake us.

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The Movie Jumbo

Posted By on October 4, 2012

From left to right, myself, Ronnie Louis, four from the left… Bill Couch. The names of the other three members of our group escape me. Jumbo was a big musical movie shot at M.G.M studios in 1962. Staring in the movie were Stephen Boyd, Martha Raye, Jimmy Durante, Doris Day and Dean Jagger.

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The Movie Jumbo

Posted By on October 4, 2012

We were known as “Barbette’s Boys” on the set. The six of us did trapeze on a single trap bar 12 foot long. Each trick we did was perfectly timed together. It took weeks to get our timing down for the few tricks we did. The trapeze routine turned out to be one of the best shots in the movie but most of it later laid on the cutting room floor. I was not hired to do trapeze. It all started with a phone call from Al Doebrich. He and Joe Pasternack, the producer hired me for Iron Jaw and for doubling actors and that was all that my contact called for. Barbette saw me rehearsing iron jaw and asked if I could do trapeze….. “Sure I am circus” I responded…… Now I had a third job. As the weeks past I found myself working with Jimmy Durante, teaching him how to hold a balance on a tight wire for shots in the movie and Stephen Boyd needed training on the trapeze. All in all having 5 or 6 jobs on one movie set was not bad….. Oh I forgot to write about the photo above. The director wanted some still shots of the six of us. The cameraman called out for a little action, so we started clowning around. I was readying myself to go up into a handstand when this photo was taken.

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The Movie Jumbo

Posted By on October 4, 2012

When I look at this photo I am reminded of the enjoyment of working in this great movie but another thing stands out even more. The pain that we all went though trying to do tricks on a single trapeze bar. The trap bar had rapped ropes on each side of us as to look like we were on single bars. After a lot of hard work without success, the six of us talked the director into letting us have are owe trapeze bar, working close side by side that gave each of us the control of our tricks. Within a week we had the timing of the routine down. One would think all would be happy but now they wanted us to sing while performing. The song was “Swing High Swing Low Open The Trapeze” Ok we did sing…… except for our last trick which was a swinging back plange……Later in the circus blog there are more photos on Jumbo.

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Combat

Posted By on October 4, 2012

This shot is a single close up of me during the capture scene. There was no reason for them to shoot this close up. I was made aware later that these were shots to establish me as an actor for future parts. I did not realize it at the time but I was slowly being groomed. Hollywood is hard to understand sometimes. The casting directors are always looking for someone different and especially with an interesting  back ground and of course mine was the circus. No matter what television show or movie I did the first question that came forth was, “I understand you come from the circus.” It opened a lot of doors.

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Combat

Posted By on October 4, 2012

 

The ABC television series Combat stared Vic Morrow and Rick Jason among many others. The episodes started  in Oct of 1962 and ended in 1967. This show was a great workshop for many up and coming actors. In 1965 I was cast as a German solder in one of the two episodes that I worked in. The photos came from film strips that were given to me by the production people. This particular segment was one of their best episodes. The story line was that Vic somehow got behind enemy lines and in his attempt to get back to his men, which was quite difficult, all of his attempts were in vain. He was captured by yours truly…. ruffed up a bit and then I marched him to a German haft track and off to a stockade. All of the actors that played German parts and had lines must be able to speak German. The better your German was the better the part. This scene is right after I turned Vic over to the stockade guards whose backs are toward the camera. I then turned and walk to the haft track, at that point a cut to the next shot.

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Combat

Posted By on October 4, 2012

This is the scene where I am forcing Vic Morrow into the back of the haft track. Working on Combat along with some other top shows gave me some serious exposure and I was approached by many agents who wanted to handle me…..Michael North being one of them. I didn’t start this acting thing, it just happened. In the mid 1950’s Dad was involved in a movie helping in the production called “Ace In The Hole.” I happened to be on the set and asked if I would do a walk on. To be paid just to walk though a scene, why that’s fantastic. From that time on I did bit parts, then into bit parts with lines. Being already in the business and having friends in the movie industry made it easy for me to get a job and sometimes it came at the expense of my family acts and the circus. I was torn between the two and I had to make a decision on what was most important…my acts or the movies. The responsibility of the chimp act was most important, this was my family and my livelihood. Bit parts in the movies were few and far between and the money, well it was chicken one day and feathers the next.  I decided to put the circus and all other theatrical work first and then the television and movie work second unless it coincided with our season. Though the 1960’s the chimp act became very strong with the circuses and fairs, there was little time for anything else but rest. Then I began getting calls to do the Steve Allen show and another and then another. It was every other week a different television show…… Joey Bishop, Danny Thomas, Greatest Show On Earth, Nite Train. Mike Douglas show, Game shows as well. Everyone wanted the actor that came from the circus. My Father was concerned by a call from Polack Bros. as they wanted the chimp act and Dad did not know how to answer Louie Stern. We had a talk, it lasted about 4 seconds. We were on our way to Polack Bros Circus. Somehow I felt free….. I was back in my world, my first love …..the circus. The movies and the circus together continued on but the circus always came first even after the success of 30 or more movies and television shows. Being a movie star was not important to me. Being a good showmen was and still is to this day.

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