Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ringling Barnum FELIX ADLER TIPPING HAT(1956)

From Chris Berry

This familiar poster was used during the final appearance that Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey made under canvas in Philadelphia. After The Greatest Show on Earth was filmed at the Broad Street showgrounds in South Philly, the show returned to that lot in 1952 and '53. In 1954 Ringling-Barnum moved back to the more desirable Lighthouse Field, returned in 1955 and for the last time in May-June of 1956. As with much of the 1956 season, the stand in Philadephia was marred with problems. The circus trains were late in arriving from Washington and as the wagons started arriving on the lot, union organizers threw rocks at the canvasmen and others trying to set up the show. The late start delayed the matinee until 5pm. There was only one entrance to the lot and it was ringed with union pickets, intended to influence show patrons and effectively keeping union truck drivers away from not only the circus but also the carnivals and independent concessionaires set up on the midway. Memorial Day in 1956 was on Wed May 30 and although the show had great business over the holiday, the weather turned bad Thur May 31 and Fri June 1, keeping crowds away. Approximately six weeks later the big show folded its tents for the last time at the Heidelberg Race Track just outside of Pittsburgh.


Bill Hall said...

Lighthouse Field (home of the Lighthouse Boys club) basically remains intact from when Ringling played there in the mid 1950s, as witnessed when we umpired a high school baseball game there last April 25. Vast outfield stretches served as locations for circus tents when, we feel, Ringling had some of its finest big top talent, including a 50-something elephant herd. -- Bill Hall

Chic Silber said...

The Beatty Show played Lighthouse

Field for at least several years

in the early 60's (10 day stand)

The date wrapped around Memorial

Day & the lot was shared with

the James Strates Show

Princess Grace & Prince Ranier

with a kid or 2 visited the show

while on a visit to her family

in the Philadelphia area

Chic Silber said...

A streetcar ran along one side

of the lot which could take you

downtown easily to find a decent

joint to eat as the area around

the lot was pretty tough

Chic Silber said...

The water truck must have been

filled from the river with the

dirtiest brown swill so a few

of us found a cheap motel in

Maple Shade just over the Tacony

Palmyra Bridge (5 cent toll)

near the lot for a clean shower

What a joyous memory

Ron Henon said...

Felix Adler.

Roger Smith said...

I can see where Ron disagrees with the makeup as Felix. It isn't his familiar whiteface, with the big white teeth, the diamond in the nose, and the small crown on the skullcap, signifying he was King of the clowns. This is another example of the show wanting "second" makeups for advertising, and this was Adler's. Remember, Paul Jerome had his tramp makeup and a whiteface seen, for example, during the '57 season. Lou Jacobs did variations of his makeup as well, when asked, and one was a masterful whiteface used extensively by the show, still never detracting from the fact that it was Lou Jacobs.

Mike Naughton said...

I was told that this was Felix's makeup prior to his famous "two teeth" trademark.
Jackie LeClaire can share some more details because his father and Felix were partners in vaudeville.
I will get in touch with Jackie to alert him to this thread.

Ole Whitey said...

I once got Felix to autograph this poster for me and a number of years later we played Clinton, Iowa, with Beatty-Cole and I went to the cemetery and visited Felix' grave.

Chris Berry said...

There were a series of photos of Felix Adler in this alternate makeup used in programs and publicity material during the 1930s and 40s. Although it isn't the traditional grotesque makeup we are accustomed to - it is him and he is repeatedly identified by name in a wide variety of uses. This poster first appeared in the mid-1940s and was used through 1956.