Monday, May 22, 2006

Cole Bros. Circus/ Jorgen M. Christensen

John Herriott tells me that this was the greatest horse trainer he ever knew.
The Cole Show usually opened each season with an indoor engagement in Chicago but in 1937 were bold enough to open in the New York Coliseum with a one ring show defying RBBB appearing Madison Sq. Garden.
Using an oversized ring they presented a wonderful performance including this 20-horse Liberty Act and closing with Clyde Beatty's huge lion and tiger act. I should have done more homework on this subject because after New York and Chicago, would this ring have fit between the center poles when the show toured under canvas? Possibly the act was reduced in size on the road.
One thing I do know tho, it's a lot different working horses out in the open like this or even in an American style circus tent, as opposed to a European Circus where there is a barrier just outside the ring curb.

I might add that the eagle eyed circus fan will immediately spot between the big top and the ring curb in this picture, the future Big Apple big top used on their Trans Manhattan Tour of 1978.


Anonymous said...

On that 1937 Cole show, their impact at the Hippodrome was enormous. Emmett Kelly got his first important notices on that date, and Mr. Clyde Beatty, with a young lion in arms, made the cover of the March 29 issue of TIME magazine.

The roster of that show was a Who's Who of circus aristocracy. I would like to have been a fly on the wall of the Ringling Garden offices.

Anonymous said...

i haven't heard a lot about the new clyde beatty circus but it was in hampton this past weekend. i was ill and couldn't attend, but some friends said it was a very strong show, worthy of the beatty name, with bruno's cat act, george hanneford elephants, espanas and ian garden's libery horses. sunday matinee crowd was very small but as far as i could learn, the only advertising were some ticket coupons in the mail.

Anonymous said...

Of course, nowdays we have electric fencing to use while practicing, but I don't think they had it back then, so those guys really had to learn to stay in the ring. Probably took longer to ring break them than the actual routine.

Unknown said...

I am helping a fellow in Fulton, Indiana, get material on Jorgen for a display by the Fulton Historical Society. If anyone has info you can contact me at

My Dad had worked for Jorgen and they remained friends for years. It is nice to see he will be remembered in Fulton where he and Edna resided for many years.

Bob Good