Saturday, April 25, 2009

From Richard Flint

ATLANTA . 1 013, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

The recent comments made under Thursday’s posting of the NY Times obituary for Tim Holst made me think an apparent hallmark of Ringling talent scouts is an interest in circus history. I met Tim Holst when he was a young ringmaster interested in acquiring some of my duplicate RBBB programs and books. When he became a globetrotter, Tim and I would talk of various circus books published around the world that we both collected. Later, his collecting interests turned to circus stamps but he always relished telling me of how he was given some material by a descendant of James. L. Hutchinson of the Barnum & London partnership.

Tim’s immediate predecessor was Trolle Rhodin who had a rich, personal understanding of circus history. In Trolle I found a man filled with great knowledge of acts and show family history and quite knowledgeable about the older, classic European circus books. I was fortunate to spend many hours over the years visiting with Trolle who sometimes would send me a circus history book from Europe. In particular, I remember him re-telling the classic yet tragic account of the circus rider Elvira Madigan, an extraordinary love story made more real because Trolle was related to and knew some of Elvira’s family members who could remember the young circus rider that died in a famous murder-suicide with her lover in 1889.

I’ve described Trolle’s early connections with John Ringling North in the comments under Tim’s obituary posted yesterday. Among the acts Trolle brought over in 1965 was the Hungarian juggler Fudi whose act was on Ringling for several years. Fudi later returned as a performance director and later again (I believe at the behest of Tim Holst) as boss clown. Trolle, Tim, and Fudi have all generously shared their great knowledge of circus acts with me over the years and I can’t image a trio with more knowledge of circus acts than those three. Tim and Fudi are shown here in a photo taken in Feb 2003 in Atlanta.

Dick Flint