The story of the great American showman and promoter.



Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Natalie Radford ...
Young Charity
Francis Olmsted
(General) Tom Thumb
James Anthony Bailey
Samuel Hurd
Nancy (Fish)
John Genin
Isabelle Cyr ...
Caroline (Barnum)
David Thompson
Helen (Barnum)


This series illustrates the life and career of P.T. Barnum, America's greatest showman and promoter. Starting as a young man who managed an old woman who was supposedly George Washington's nursemaid, we see his career as he finds success promoting curiosities and attractions with panache and a judicious mix of truth and creativity, whether it be promoting his museum or characters like the midget General Tom Thumb. Yet because the demands of his businesses, his family life is troubled and marred by tragedy. All the while, events lead to his greatest creation, the Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama






Release Date:

12 September 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Barnum Cirkusz  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This movie shows P.T. Barnum naming Jumbo. In fact, when Barnum bought Jumbo that was already his name. Keepers at the London Zoo (Jumbo's owners before Barnum) named him Jumbo, a derivation of an African word for elephant. The publicity Barnum brought to Jumbo eventually coined the word "jumbo" as meaning large. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Inspirational miniseries
20 October 2004 | by (Gothenburg, Sweden) – See all my reviews

Although I cannot argue with the former comment about this miniseries a bit boring, I feel it's also misleading. Certainly, it needn't have been 4 hours long, but if you look past that, and watch it as the costume drama it is, you'd probably enjoy it. The sets are magnificent, and the acting isn't as bad as the former comment suggested.

But what is stunning is Barnum himself, and all the things that we take for granted, that he started or invented - like Madison Square Garden, the permanent circus, the terms "rain check", "grandstanding", and "press conference" (as well as the very notion of a press conference), but also modern advertising - including full page ads, creating a demand, and infotainment. That's the real strength of the miniseries - Barnum's optimistic view of the world and his ideas of marketing and showmanship.

So, if you're interested in how show business started to be a legitimate business, you should see it, even if you shouldn't place it at the top of you "to watch"-list.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss P.T. Barnum (1999) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: