Thursday, June 07, 2007

From Henry D. Penndorf

Taras Bulba.2, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

The attached photo is of a gentleman who performed under the name Taras Bulba. In the early seventies he was the subject of a season long search by a syndicated television program appropriately named Circus (1971-1973), hosted by Bert Parks. With Bill Strong's assistance, I found out that his real name is Alfred Beautour, and he is the father of the wild animal trainer Alfred Beautor (second picture) who is currently performing in Europe. I would like to find out more about Taras Bulba, and his performing career.&nbs! p; I don't believe that he ever performed in the United States. Do you have any information on him?

In the January/February 1994 issue of the CFA's White Tops, there was a an article written by Mike Cecere, titled "RBB&B Big Cat and Elephant Trainers, cont'd". The article chronicled the history of the wild animal trainers and elephant men that have performed with Ringling Brothers from 1938 through 1993. Would you know if the article was ever updated and if a more current list exists?

In the article it said that Mike Cecere has spent a lifetime working with animals on various circuses, including Hoxie Brothers, Ford Brothers, and George Cardin. Are you familiar with him?

In the "Editor's Note" introducing the article, the editor said that the author, Mike Cecere, is the assistant general manager of Arthur T. Brown's Double M ! Ranch Enterprises. The Double M Ranch was described as a l arge animal training compound in Hastings, New York. I live in New York State, a fifteen to twenty minute drive from Hastings. No one that I have spoken to or asked about the Double M Ranch has ever heard of it. Have you ever heard of it? Does it still exist? What type of animals did they train?

In reading the article, I did notice the absence of at least two famous names, Bert Nelson, and the legendary Mabel Stark. Did either of them, or both, ever perform with Ringling Brothers? Perhaps they were with Ringling Brothers before 1938?

I think I may have also found a discrepancy. Listed for 1955 are Trevor Bale's tigers, Paul Fritz's lions and Albert Rix's bears as performing with Ringling Brothers. According to the program that I have for 1955, the wild animal acts are listed as Trevor Bale's Tigers, Paul Fritz' lions and Captai! n Walter Stone's mixed bears.

Mr. Cecere's article said that there were 51 elephants with the circus in 1955. That the elephants were under the direction of Smokey Jones with assistance from Hugo Schmitt. Captain Schmitt was in charge of the "difficult" elephants. He was also listed as chief trainer. In the 1955 program, I found no mention in the list of displays for elephants, which I thought was interesting. It did contain an article "Say It With Elephants" on the circuses elephants, and an ad for Ford trucks, "Pickup VS. Pachyderm". The "Say It with Elephants" article said that there were 54 "rubber cows" with this years circus, 27 of them babies. There was no mention of any trainer's names in the article. The only mention of any trainer, was a small picture of Captain Schmitt and which only identified him as famed trainer, Hugo Schmitt.

Wilson or William Storey?...In the article M r. Cecere referred to him as Willie Storey.


Anonymous said...

Henry, I remember watching several of the "Circus" episodes. Do you remember in which circus they finally caught up with Taras and his tigers? Taras makes a cameo appearance (out of the ring) in the music video "Animal" by Def Leppard, filmed in 1987 on Holland's Circus Holiday. Erik Jaeger

Anonymous said...

Henry, you raised a question about the name of Mr. Storey. His name was Wiulson F. Storey but has been called Willie by some people. He was born on March 24, 1904 in Beziers, France and died on September 5, 1992.

His dad died when he was six years old. His mother married a horse who worked for in Alfred Court's Zoo Circus. He joined that show as a liberty horse trainer.

In 1940, Alfred Court was invited to join RBBB. Court and Storey spent the next 5 years with RBBB