Saturday, July 07, 2018



Bob Cline said...

The incomparable, Jean "Tarzan" Zerbini.

Chic Silber said...

He bought Hubert Castle's show

where he had headlined for many

years & renamed it "Tarzan Zerbini Circus"

He had to legally add "Tarzan" to

his name in a court procedure to

prevent litigation from the estate

of author Edgar Rice Burroughs

He learned of that procedure from

Emelian Bouglione of Cirque d'Hiver

in Paris who had added the name

of "Buffalo Bill Cody" to his

for much the same reasons

Emelian told me that story when

I was a family guest for dinner

Chic Silber said...

His father Charles Zerbini

was the Patriarch of the

large family that came to

the US from France to the

Mills Bros Circus

Chic Silber said...

I was engaged to & almost

married his sister Stella

"Mimi" Zerbini but still

remain on very good terms

Her 1st 2 children from

her 1st husband Mike are

both very dear to me as

that was the closest to

my being a father

Chic Silber said...

He is an incredible performer

& presenter of an exciting as

well as comedic mixed cat act

1 of my alltime favorites of

which there are very few

I did enjoy his act far more

before the addition of the

wireless mike that he overused

His voice could be heard in

every performance without it

Chic Silber said...

His 3 largest cats were

big neutered male lions

Tommy his best comedian

could probably have done

an entire show on his own

Royal was another giant

but don't recall the 3rd

that had an incredible

deep throated growl that

Jean played into by his

teasing at safe distance

while staring him down

until the cat turned his

head toward the cage

A very memorable routine

Chic Silber said...

His 3 tigers sat above the

entry chute very regally

until they were called upon

Rajah the male top center

flanked by Sheba & Soriah

the 2 females

(now where did I leave my keys)

Bob Cline said...

My greatest thrill in watching Tarzan perform was to see him enter the Columbus, Ohio Fairgounds arena on top on Tony Diano's Tommy. The classic Tarzan yodel was broadcast and he grabbed a rope and swung across half of he arena and literally dropped into the cage with the lions already in it.

By God, if that didn't get you on the edge of your seat, nothing would. Absolutely amazing.

Chic Silber said...

I witnessed that entry many

times Bob & indeed it was

the epitome of the start

of any animal presentation

Except for a closing night

in Detroit when some clever

insider coated a length of

the web with elephant shit

Made for a much faster slide

into the arena & left his

hands in nasty condition

This was some years before

he owned it (with the bank)

Wade G. Burck said...

I may be wrong but I thought it was Tommy who "put his head in the corner." My first year contracted to Hawthorn(1976) I saw the LORD OF THE JUNGLE and the QUEEN OF THE AIR IN Dallas on the Texas Dates. White and gold Rolls Royce's, Teal, gold and white tractor/trailer's etc. about as impressive as impressive could be, pure class. As it was my 3rd year in the circus I thought this show biz is alright, and speculated on how long it would take me to have the same. Come to find out, a damn, damn long time..... Saw the Zerbinis a number of time's in later year's when they appeared at Fantasy Island in Buffalo, N.Y. and we were across the water at Marineland in Niagara Falls, Cananda. Had the pleasure of working with both Jackie and Patty with tiger's at Hawthorn in later year's. Agreed Chic an extremely talented family. On a side note, Roger Smith I believe you could share some "Mimi" stories also.........

Wade Burck

Chic Silber said...

It was definitely that 3rd

big male that I can't recall

the name of that finally did

that slow turn outward Wade

Tommy the biggest did half

of Jean's performance in his

great comedy turns & repeats

I will ask Mimi when I get

home on Tuesday that name

Roger's story doesn't quite

jive with mine however Wade

Chic Silber said...

Another time I'll tell the

story about competition of

customized Golden Eagle &

Silver Eagle coaches that

Jean thought he outsmarted

Elvin Bale but got skunked

That park in Grand Island

was a great summer retreat

for the entire family where

Jean set up a workshop to

create some great stuff &

the kids remember it fondly

I visited them there often

Wade G. Burck said...

As well as Marineland and Game Farm being a great summer retreat for Hawthorn for many year's. So memorable to me as it was where I first met Charly(as well as Jenette and Elvin with their cheetahs) when he came to see the show, during a dark day for the Blue show playing Buffalo. A few year's later where Irvin Feld and Arnie came to see and sign my white tiger act for GSOE, and Don Foote and Mel came for a couple of day's to design and fit my costumes. Those years were about the best that ever were for me in the spangly, rhinestoney, world of the circus.

The first time I ever heard the song "Welcome to My World" was when Chimp trainer, Manager, Ringmaster Andrew Kirby sang it during Mimi's trapeze act. To this day when ever I hear the song I am reminded of that time so long ago.

I have a picture some place of Jackie presenting the Zerbini horse and tiger riding act(not often mentioned) at Fantasy Island and I will attempt to send it on to you should the Chinese internet co-operate. Who know's, with trade war's kicking in gear President Xi may railroad me as well........

Wade Burck

Chic Silber said...

I gather from this that you are stll

a Chinese captive or are wanted back

home on unanswered parking violations

Mimi worked to "Under Paris Skies" &

"Butterfly" (or some version of that)

during our time together both during

Jimmy Harrington's Puerto Rico date

& a full season on Beatty

She almost married that electrician

Bill something but it ended badly

She then married John Whitfield but

he was soon convicted of larceny

She bailed him out & divorced him

She has been happily married to

Stan Penney for many years

They have 3 sons together

Wade G. Burck said...

I am currently serving as liaison between Beijing and Washington during trade negotiation's. President Trump feel's that given my over 40 year's in a profession that insisted on "two or more" as guarantee of employment as well as "more week's of work, in lieu of a salary increase" more then qualified me to deal with these human rights bandit's on the other side of the world.
Given what occurred the other day in North Korea, they may need me to go to P'yŏngyang given my vast experience with "I don't care what your contract with Cuneo say's you don't have to do. My contract with Cuneo say's you will do it" negotiations.

Wade Burck

Chic Silber said...

Somehow I sorta new that politics

would raise it's ugly head

I actually had an open invitation

from the head of the circus school

in Pyongyang during an engagement

I had enjoyed working with several

top notch North Korean troupes in

Lima Peru some years back

Don't have the guts to go somehow

Chic Silber said...

Funny just how many folks I know

have similar stories about Mr Hawthorn

I never worked for the man but adored

his dear exwife Herta

Roger Smith said...

Yes, I have the stories asked for, but mine are inclusive of darker memories that would be met here with "comment deleted".

Chic Silber said...

Although we have different

recall of some past events

you are welcome to yours

I am not a deleter of the

kind of things you mention

I only ask that you think

of the 2 kids that lived

through some very difficult

times & that might be hurt

to be reminded of such

I'm only a helper here &

not the prime authority


Wade G. Burck said...

I've often thought the term "the other side of the story" was penned exclusively to aid in the factual jack potting of circus history. Glad to know you are well, Roger. For folk's that never saw Roger dressed for the ring in his white's and jack boot's, next to Pat Anthony he was the most "look's like Beatty" feline trainer I ever saw(although I suspect Dick Magraw was up there also, remembering the pictures Lou Regan had shown me long ago. My best to Kim also, Rog.

Wade Burck

Chic Silber said...

Tht title at the top of this string

"Lions 3" reminds me of the old joke

about "what's the score"

"Lions 3 Christians Nothing"

Roger Smith said...

Thanks, WADE. Nice words at a time when I'd think no one remembers.

Kim Baer is now with Harold Rode, of the Riding Rodos Family, in Tennessee. They survived the Gatlinburg fire.

Dick McGraw retired to the Carolinas, and died on May 9, 2015. He was 85.

Wade G. Burck said...

Roger, I did not know he had passed away. Another part of this thing of our's gone. Although I never had the honor of meeting him, folk's I did have the honor of being around in the early day's like Lou, Chet, Pat etc. spoke very highly of him. Are you in touch with his son Kevin? It would sure be great to get a few picture's of him and his work. With the exception of a few St. Louis Zoo postcard's not much has ever been available. I heard he experienced quite a severe mauling at some point. Do you have any knowledge/insight of that incident? Speaking of "remembers" Roger and what it was and what it is today, what could a young person witness that would impact them so much that they would want to do the same for the rest of their life?

I am always reminded of the scene in MAD MAX where what was left of the world gathered around a fire to hear "the tell" from the tribal elder about their origins and the world long ago. Stay well Rog, as I consider you the tribal elder Slake of the Jungle Land/Oaks day's and Jim Clubb tribal elder Slake of the Alfred Court day's. I'll accept responsibility for the Hawthorn day's.

"This ain't onebody's story, it's the story of us all; we got it mouth-to-mouth, so you got to listen it, and 'member, 'cause what you hears today you gotta tell the birthed tomorrow."

Wade Burck

Chic Silber said...

The Rode family performed

as "The Rodos" but were never

a riding act Roger they were

acrobats with a casting tramp

& leaps over cars & swords

They carried a loveley team

of general purpose ladies to

fill the air with webs & to

add to all production numbers

Bruno the older brother ran

the troupe with German style

He was the main leaper while

his younger brother Hans with

his wife Rosie did a fantastic

very high open handed cradle

act as "The Palace Duo"

The family created & operated

a very succesful German joint

titled "Old Heidelberg Castle"

here in Sarasota for many years

that had live circus acts &

an oompah band & did very well

Strange family dynamics led

Bruno & his elder son Harold

to open a 2nd "Heidelberg" in

Gatlinburg that didn't go well

Younger brother Frankie told

me a while back that Harold

had a stroke & that Kim Baer

was taking care of him

Roger Smith said...

Right, Kim has been there with Harold some 4 years now. Together, we took care of her father, Parley Baer, at their Tarzana home, and at Motion Picture Hospital, in Woodland Hills, for his last 14 months, and were with him at his passing. Kim had graduated from a med tech school and turned around and remained on their faculty for 4 years. She notes her post-circus life has proven intended as a full-time caregiver.

Chic Silber said...

I visited their Gatlinburg joint

a few times when I was working

on "Dixie Stampede" a division

of "Dollywood" in Pigeon Forge

It was dismal & smelled of old

beer & smoke & was doing poorly

Several of the "Rodo" folks say

that failed 2nd restaurant had

siphoned off profits from the

main "Heidelburg" in Sarasota

Which brought it's demise