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Clyde Beatty

August 15, 2013

Whether you find it creepy or exhilarating, there's no denying the place of the circus in our social history. And before there was Siegfield and Roy, there was the legendary trainer Clyde Beatty.

Beatty became a celebrity in the 1930's, playing himself in two chapter-plays and even having his own radio show. It was when he orchestrated the appearance of two ferocious creatures, the lion and the tiger, in the same arena at John Whipple's Circus, however, that he won the awe and admiration of so many. In fact, Beatty often performed with up to forty lions and tigers at once.

While his training standards, involving chairs, whips and even shotguns, are unethical by today's standards, Beatty took circus performance to a place it had never been before. And while methods of training have changed, the allure of watching daredevil stunts involving humans vs. wild animals remains for many. Among some Clyde Beatty merchandise pictured here are the Lions and Tigers Big Little Book, which was based on the Carl Laemmle production The Big Cage, and the extremely rare Jungle Animal Brass Link Charm Bracelet. Charm bracelets were very popular in the 30's - and considering this one was a premium for Quaker Wheat Crackels, it was particularly well made. The animals were produced in amazing detail, and the brass glimmered like gold - making it quite the toy for any child growing up during the Depression - and any child willing to eat boxes of Crackels.

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