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Clyde Beatty Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (3) | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 10 June 1903Bainbridge, Ross County, Ohio, USA
Date of Death 19 July 1965Ventura, California, USA  (cancer)
Birth NameClyde Raymond Beatty
Nickname Scrap-iron Shorty
Height 5' 5½" (1.66 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Clyde Beatty, who was born on June 10, 1903 in Bainbridge, Ohio, was a big game hunter who became famous as a lion tamer and animal trainer. He was the first lion tamer to be featured in a circus. Eventually, he became a circus impresario who owned his own show.

Beatty became famous for his "fighting act," in which he entered the cage with wild animals armed only with a bull-whip and a pistol strapped to his hip. The act was designed to showcase the five & a half-foot tall Beatty's courage and mastery of the wild beasts, which included lions, tigers, pumas, and hyenas, sometimes brought together all at once in a single cage in a potentially lethal combination. At the height of his fame, the act featured Beatty solo, in a cage confronting 40 snarling, roaring and caterwauling lions and tigers of both sexes.

Such was Beatty's fame that he appeared in films from the 1930s through the 1950s and on television until the 1960s. His "fighting act" made him the paradigm of a lion tamer for more than a generation.

Begining in the 1930s, he owned outright or allowed different circuses for which he performed to bear his name. His own circus converted from a railroad to a truck operation in 1956 (think of the ultimate scene from Cecil B. DeMille's Academy Award-winning _The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)_ for one reason why), and in 1958, added "Cole Bros." to its name to create the "Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus." Still in existence, and rivaled only by Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey Circus in North America, it bills itself as "The World's Largest Circus Under The Big Top."

In 2004, the circus dropped "Clyde Beatty" from its name after it terminated its elephant act. This brought an end to an era that Beatty's name epitomized in which circuses featured wild animals from foreign climes. The era had lasted for well over two centuries in North America, since Captain Jacob Crowninshield exhibited his two-year old Indian pachyderm in New York, at the corner of Beaver Street and Broadway on April 23, 1796.

Clyde Beatty, King of the Lion Tamers, died of cancer in Ventura, California on July 19, 1965, just before the beginnings of the political correctness movement that assigned his once-illustrious name to obscurity. He was 62 years old. The plaque at his grave at Forestlawn Hollywood Hills Cemetary in Los Angeles, California features, fittingly, a lion.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Clyde Raymond Beatty was born to Margaret Beatty on June 10, 1903, in Bainbridge, Ross County, OH, the eldest of nine children. For most of these years Margaret was a single parent, and young Clyde took every part-time job in town he could find to help his mother and siblings. He graduated from nearby Chillicothe High School, but had already succumbed to the world of the circus. On August 16, 1921, at dawn, he and Howard Smith clambered into a boxcar on the DT&I Railroad, bound for Washington Court House, OH, and joined the Howes Great London and Van Amburgh's Wild Animal Circus. His first and certainly influential boss was the legendary wild animal trainer Louis Roth. Next, he came under the tutelage of another great trainer, John "Chubby" Guilfoyle. By 1923 Clyde was working small mixed groups of big cats, hyenas and bears to start 42 uninterrupted seasons in the steel arena. He was strictly a circus man, but has been incorrectly described as a big-game hunter. In 1925, on the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, trainer Pete Taylor suffered a physical collapse, and young Clyde took over the big mixed lion-and-tiger act of 25 animals that became the signature of his career. He quickly came to the attention of John Ringling North, who owned Hagenbeck-Wallace, and he brought Beatty to the big Ringling show opening at New York's Madison Square Garden, and then on to Boston Garden for the tremendous publicity send-off for the seasons of 1931-1934. However, in 1932 Clyde was attacked by a lion named Nero and developed what the press called "jungle fever" and nearly died. John Ringling held the 1933 opening of the Garden runs so Clyde could heal up and practice the act before re-joining. That year he and Edward Anthony co-wrote his first book, "The Big Cage", to which Carl Laemmle of Universal Pictures bought the rights. The film, The Big Cage (1933), starred Beatty and co-starred a young Mickey Rooney, and Clyde's fame was assured. In the winter of 1934 Beatty left all Ringling interests over a dispute with those who had deposed John Ringling. He formed the Cole Bros. and Clyde Beatty Circus in 1935, and for the rest of his career his name appeared on every circus title on which he worked. He married Harriett Evans in 1933, who already had a small daughter. They remained on the Cole-Beatty title until it folded in 1938. In 1939 they opened the Clyde Beatty Jungle Zoo in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Zoning forced them to close in 1945, though, when he took out the Clyde Beatty Circus as a truck show. In partnership with Arthur M. Concello, a peak season was realized in 1946. In 1947 his own circus was on rails and so remained until the tragic circus season of 1956, when he went bankrupt. In 1950 Harriett Beatty died of heart disease in their private railroad car. In 1951 Beatty married Jane Lorriane Abel, of San Antonio. They had one son, Clyde Jr., born in 1952. The 1956 show reorganized and continued the season. In 1957 new owners changed to a truck operation, and in 1959 the show was re-titled "Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros." Beatty had the leading personal contract in the circus world, and kept his name alive with two more books, and radio and television appearances. In 1964 he became ill and had surgery in Billings Hospital, in Chicago, where cancer was discovered. He did not complete the season. To the surprise of all, he returned to open in 1965, but became too weak to work the animals and returned home to Ventura, CA, where he died on July 19. No other circus performer was so recognized by the public, and to this day, many years after his death, his name is still synonymous with circuses and wild-animal shows.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Roger Smith

Spouse (3)

Jane Lorraine Abel (31 July 1951 - 19 July 1965) (his death) (1 child)
Harriet Beatty (13 September 1933 - 25 October 1950) (her death)
Beatrice Ernestine Jones Pegg (26 January 1926 - 1 November 1932) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (1)

White pith helmet, white tropical military uniform, gunbelt and boots

Trivia (3)

His favorite meal was Mississippi River catfish, which he never passed up.
He was an avid fisherman who especially loved deep-sea fishing. He had friends on all three American coasts who would take him out before his circus performances.
Beatty's circus sometimes featured cowboy star Bob Steele, whom Beatty befriended during his days at Mascot Studios, and Sunset Carson.

Personal Quotes (1)

You can never be certain that a lion or a tiger won't hook you if it has the opportunity. Big cats are wild by nature, even if they're born in captivity. They never develop any affection for their trainer, no matter how gentle he may be with them. I want people to see me close - close enough to smell the cats. When I'm in there, I don't know if there are a hundred or a thousand in the audience. It doesn't matter. I'll give them anything; I'll give them everything.

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