Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Cristiani-Wallace 1963 #12

scan0027, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.


Frank Ferrante said...

From the way the text was layed out on the truck in the background, it almost appears as if these were Wallace Bros. trucks and that the Cristiani name was added after a possible acquisition. Anyone know the history on this one? ~frank

Anonymous said...

In 1961, Pete Cristiani and wife Norma took out Wallace Bros., a title Pete had acquired from father-im-law Ben Davenport (ex-owner of Dailey Bros.). Some of the trucks came from Dailey Bros. and others from Cristiani Bros., both defunct. Pete added the Cristiani name the next season to give it greater recognition, especially in the towns formerly played by his family's circus. Most of the Cristiani performed on Pete and Norma's circus when they weren't booked for other dates. And Pete's brother, Oscar, handled the advance for Cristiani-Wallace, while also providing his elephants.
Lane Talburt

dpowhitetiger said...

SPANGLES author - Vickie Cristiani informed me that her father OSCAR never handed Advance for Cristiani. Pete Cristiani just celebrated his birthday. Those hard to find Cristiani Route Books could be found in the CFA VEGAS Bull Room last month. SPANGLES, Elephants, Violets and Me" has been released with new book jacket, credits and corrections. SPANGLES has advanced to the next level of Book Marketing.
Thank You Buckles for all your help with this fantastic BLOG.

Anonymous said...

Lane--The brother who handled advance for both the Cristiani Bros. Circus & for Pete was Paul (Mogador). At the end of the 1961 season Pete hired Neil Berk to handle the advance for him in 1962 & that year the circus went to Canada. Paul was back supervising the advance in 1963. That season the circus was the CFA circus for the convention in Reading, PA.

David Reddy

Anonymous said...

Yes, Dave Orr, Vickie Cristiani is absolutely correct--my mistake. Her father, Oscar, brought his elephants on the show whenever he wasn't booked. My apologies for the error. That has prompted me to dig out the transcript of the interview which I did with Pete in April 2000 in Sarasota.

And, yes, David Reddy, Paul (Mogador) handled much of the advance for the '61 route.

According to Pete (and I'm quoting from his verbatim remarks), "In '61, I had my cousin, Remo, with me. He had two elephants--a big one and a small one.

"I bought some elephants from the St. Louis zoo I bought tigers and chimps off of them. They were surplus animals that they had. I think I bought three elephants for a thousand dollars apiece.:"

The tigers, he said, were 6 to 8 months old. "They were cage animals. I didn't get them trained, but they were at the right age."

Norma Cristiani told me that Pete told her he had bought the chimps and asked her to work them in the ring--she did. In his interview with me, Pete said, "She worked the elephants, the chimp act, the principal act, manage--you know, dressage." (Pete and Norma had sold the five Norma Cristiani elephants to the Beatty-Cole show in the late 1950s.)

Pete copied D. R. Miller's concept of owning not only the physical plant but also the animals and as many act acts as possible. In fact, he bought the Kelly-Miller liberty horses which Lew Jensen used in the Wallace Bros Western acts. In addition, Pete and Norma had purchased a giraffe, hippo and rhino in 1959 and booked them on Cristiani Bros. to replace the animals that Tony Diano took with him when he left that show. Pete had a special trailer built for those animals.

And while various members of the Cristiani clan did provide the bulk of the acts, Pete added Eddy Kuhn's wild-animal act and Harold Lloyd's flying routine, among others. So this was a big show, too big to support in subsequent seasons.

Pete said a major factor in adding the Cristiani name to the Wallace Bros title for the 1962 season was that his brothers decided not to relaunch the moribund Christiani Bros. Circus, which had gone off the road in 1960., Pete's brothers had returned in late 1961 from an artistically successful but financially disastrous tour of South America, (with the Ringling aggregation).

Since Pete and Norma didn't accompany the family on their Cristiani-Ringling venture, Pete was able to use his brother's big top, which was in fairly good shape, for the new Wallace Bros. route in 1961. Pete recalls it being 130' wide with one 50 and two 40s. He also used the Cristiani Bros. seat wagons. But he didn't have the rigging, since the family had taken it with them to South America. He sent a truck to Gonzales, Texas (the old Dailey Bros. winter quarters( to pick up and recycle a lot of Cristiani Bros paper that had been left there when the family show went off the road in 1960. In addition, Pete used a large generator that he and Ben Davenport had purchased for a shopping center show that they had fielded in 1959. (Ben didn't go out with Pete in 1961; he had his own street show.)

I hope this information is helpful in shedding additional light on the background of Wallace Bros. I'll try to be more dilligent in the future. I realize that it's sometimes very difficult to correct erroneous info once it's out there. My old newspaper editors would have given me a good wrist slap.

Lane Talburt

Ole Whitey said...

The Norma Davenport (Cristiani) Five act went to Beatty-Cole during he winter of 1959-1960. Steve Fanning came with the act and was boss of the herd in 1960.