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Top 10 Greatest Circus Performers Of All Time

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, welcome to the greatest show on Earth! The Ringling Bros and Barnum Bailey Circus is coming to town Thursday through Sunday at the Times Union Center.  The circus has a deep long history, but who was greatest performer of all time? Many great performers, and circus acts have entertained people of all ages for years.  P.T. Barnum is famous for saying “There’s a sucker born every minute”, we love the circus- all the gawkiness and spectacle it offers.   A website that specializes in just “lists” called listverse.com has compiled a list of the Top 10 Greatest Circus Performers Of All Time.

#10.
Middlebush Giant

Wikimedia Commons

P.T.Barnum gave him his name of the Middlebush Giant.  Arthur James was billed as the worlds tallest man. Coming in at 7’11″ and weighing 620 pounds, he was part of the Circus lore in the mid to late 1800′s. There were so many stories about this big fella, that nobody knows for sure what is or is not true.

#9
Mabel Stark

Circus Historical Society

Mabel Stark was the greatest female lion tamer of all time.  Standing at only five feet tall, she spent 57 years with the circus.

#8
Garantula

Wikipedia.com

He joined the circus in 1938 and is credited with saving the Ringling Bros circus from Bankruptcy.

He was billed as the world’s most terrifying living creature on earth and hated humans!

#7
Mario Zacchini

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Mario was an Italian-born circus performer who was the last of his family to perform in circuses and carnivals as a human cannonball—being shot from a cannon into a net on the other side of the circus tent—a stunt he carried out thousands of times in his several-decade-long career.

#6
Harry Houdini

Wikimedia Commons

Harry Houdini -  he got his start when he joined the circus in 1865.  He and his wife dazzled crowds when they switched places in a locked trunk.  It was only the beginning and the rest is history.

#5
The Flying Wallandas

Photo by Sandra Teddy/Getty Images

In 1922, Karl Wallenda formed the Great Wallendas. – a highwire/tightrope act, specializing in walking and cycling high above the crowd. John Ringling was so impressed with a performance he saw in Cuba, that he hired them to perform for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In 1928 They debuted at Madison Square Garden, and performed without a net.  The act was a crowd-pleaser, but it wasn’t always fall-proof.

#4
Zip The Pinhead

Wikimedia Commons

With all due respect, William Henry Johnson was an oddity for the circus.  His body was normal but his head was small and pointed on top.  PT Barnum nicknamed him Zip The Pinhead and after 67 years when he retired from the circus it was estimated that 100 million people visited Zip at the Circus.

#3
General Tom Thumb

Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images

In 1842,  Charles Stratton joind the circus.  He was a dwarf or little person and was as an adult only 2’11″.  He performed where ever he could, he sang danced and participated in skits.  General Tom Thumb became one of the most popular circus attractions in the late 1800′s and was an international star.

#2
Emmett Kelly

Wikimedia Commons

Emmett Kelly was best known as the clown who tried to sweep a spot light into a can.

He was different than the other circus clowns in that he would wander among the crowd in tattered, ripped and torn costumes.

#1
JUMBO The Elephant

Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images

Jumbo was considered the greatest circus attraction in American History.  Twelve feet tall at the shoulders, and weighing in at six and a half tons.  Jumbo helped the circus gross $360,000 dollars at Madison Square Garden in 1882!

So much history with the circus -it’s been around for years and still makes people laugh, gasp and fill with excitement. The circus is great entertainment for not a lot of money.  Enjoy the Ringling Bros and Barnam Bailey Circus this weekend at the Times Union Center.  Tickets are still available at the Times Union Center Box Office, and Ticketmaster.com.

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