August 12, 1957 -The Return of Ringling Brothers

Ringling Brothers Life

Ringling Brothers’ aerial ballet in Washington, DC’s Griffith Stadium

On August 12, 1957, Life magazine reported that new technology was saving an old tradition – the circus! The unfortunate demise of Ringling Brothers had been reported by Life a little over a year earlier. “Beset by skyrocketing costs,” the July 30, 1956 issue explained, “President John Ringling North folded the big top and publicly called it quits.”

“But this year the circus has confounded its mourners by springing back to life – out of doors instead of under canvas. On tour for 11 months, it is playing at ball parks and fair grounds in the clear light of day, thanks to a new 35-ton system of aluminum rigging which can also be set up in covered arenas.”

Operating costs for the canvas “big top” had been running at about $21,000. The new rigging would add only $9,000 a day to the Ringling Brothers’ bottom line.

So let’s go! And how do they get all those clowns into that little car?

Image Credit: Life/Google Books

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