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P.T. Barnum (1999)

TV Movie  -   -  Biography | Drama  -  12 September 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 132 users  
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The story of the great American showman and promoter.



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Title: P.T. Barnum (TV Movie 1999)

P.T. Barnum (TV Movie 1999) on IMDb 6.6/10

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Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Young Charity
Francis Olmsted
(General) Tom Thumb
James Anthony Bailey
Art Kitching ...
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:

P.T. Barnum  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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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 »

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User Reviews

silly... unconvincing... embarrassing
19 September 1999 | by (Hattiesburg, MS, USA) – See all my reviews

It's hard to find the words to properly describe this film, though "finding words" is no problem for the characters of this bombastic farce of a "movie event"; everyone in the film seems in danger of choking on a mouthful of the most preposterous, stilted dialogue imaginable. Also, I can't imagine that the director could possibly let these performances pass. Every actor (Bridges in particular) seems to be acting as though they were onstage in a theatre play. I will not believe that anyone EVER spoke the way these characters do, and that I blame on the screenwriter. The movie would have been much more pleasurable to watch had the characters actually seemed like real people instead of poorly written, wordy caricatures. Ironic, since the "characters" ARE actual historic people. Never is there a single moment that rings true, and there is not one ounce of convincing emotion to be found. I won't blame the actors, though. In such a case as this, when the entire production suffers from the same ailments, I can only place responsibility on the director and the script. I can't help but feel embarrassed for Bridges and Co.

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