Trapeze artists Barnum & Bailey 1896 Postcard
"The Barnum & Bailey greatest show on earth. The world's largest, grandest, best amusement institution. The world-famous Silbons, the masterly monarchs of the air, in a series of most difficult, ingenious and startling aerial feats." He was born James Anthony McGuiness in Detroit, Michigan. Orphaned at the age of eight, McGuinness was working as a bellhop in Pontiac, Michigan when he was discovered by Fred Harrison Bailey (a nephew of circus pioneer Hachaliah Bailey) as a teenager. Bailey gave McGuiness a job as his assistant and the two travelled together for many years. James Anthony eventually adopted Bailey's surname to become James A. Bailey. Bailey later associated with James E. Cooper and, by the time he was 25, he was manager of the Cooper and Bailey circus. He then met with P.T. Barnum and together they established Barnum and Bailey's Circus (for which Bailey was instrumental in obtaining Jumbo the Elephant) in 1881. In 1919, Barnum and Bailey's joined with the Ringling Brothers to form the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. James Anthony Bailey was married to Ruth McCaddon of Zanesville, Ohio. He died of erysipelas in 1906 in Mount Vernon, New York. Hachaliah Bailey (pronounced heck-a-LIE-uh) (1775–1845) is the eponym of Bailey's Crossroads, Virginia and a relative to several famous individuals involved in early American circuses (having founded one of his own). Bailey moved to Northern Virginia in 1837 from Westchester County, New York, and, on December 19, 1837, bought the land at the intersection of Leesburg Pike and Columbia Pike in Fairfax County, Virginia just outside Falls Church, Virginia, that land now known as Bailey's Crossroads. Phineas Taylor Barnum (July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891) was an American showman, businessman, and entertainer, remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the circus that became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. His successes may have made him the first "show business" millionaire. Although Barnum was also an author, publisher, philanthropist, and sometime politician, he said of himself, "I am a showman by profession...and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me," and his personal aims were "to put money in his own coffers." Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was started when the circus created by James Anthony Bailey and P. T. Barnum was merged with the Ringling Brothers Circus. The Ringling brothers purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1907, but ran the circuses separately until they were finally merged in 1919. P.T. Barnum's Great Travelling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome In 1871, Dan Castello and William Cameron Coup persuaded Barnum to lend his name and financial backing to the circus they had already created in Delavan, Wisconsin. It was called "P.T. Barnum's Great Travelling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome". The moniker "Greatest show on Earth" was added later. Cooper and Bailey James Anthony Bailey had teamed with James E. Cooper to create the Cooper and Bailey Circus in the 1860s. Bailey's circus was soon Barnum's chief competitor. He also exhibited "Little Columbia," the first baby elephant ever born in an American circus. Cooper and Bailey merges with Barnum Barnum wanted to buy the elephant, but Bailey turned him down. Instead of continuing as competitors, each man recognized the showmanship of the other, and decided to combine their shows in 1881. In 1882, the combined show enjoyed great success with acts such as Jumbo, advertised as the world's largest elephant. Barnum died in 1891 and Bailey then purchased the circus from his widow. He ran many successful tours through the eastern United States until he took his circus to Europe. Starting on December 27, 1897, he began a tour across the continent that lasted through 1902. Bailey's European tour gave the Ringling brothers an opportunity to move their show from the Midwest through the eastern seaboard. Faced with the new competition, Bailey took his show west of the Rockies for the first time in 1905. He died the next year and the circus was sold to the Ringling Brothers a year later. The Ringling brothers Five of the seven Ringling brothers started a small circus in 1884, about the same time that Barnum & Bailey were at the peak of their popularity. Similar to dozens of small circuses that toured the Midwest and the Northeast at the time, the Ringlings moved their circus from town to town in small animal-drawn caravans. Their circus rapidly grew and they were soon able to move their circus by train, which allowed them to have the largest travelling amusement enterprise of that time. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus merger The Ringlings purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1907 and ran the circuses separately until 1919. By that time, Charles Edward Ringling and John Nicholas Ringling were the only remaining Ringling brothers of the five who founded the circus. They decided that it was too difficult to run the two circuses independently, so on March 29, 1919, "Ringling Bros. and "Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows" debuted at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The posters declared, "The Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Shows and the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth are now combined into one record-breaking giant of all exhibitions." Charles Edward Ringling died in 1926. The circus was a success through the Roaring 20s. Static trapeze refers to a trapeze act in which the performer moves around the bar and ropes, performing a wide range of movements including balances, drops, hangs while the bar itself stays mostly in place. The difficulty on a static trapeze is making every move look effortless. It is like dance, in that most people of a reasonable level of strength can get onto the bar for the first time and do the tricks but an experienced artist will do them with much more grace and style. The trapeze bar is weighted and often has cable inside the supporting ropes for extra strength. Swinging trapeze (or swinging single trapeze) refers to an act performed while the trapeze swings. For an example of this discipline, watch the trapeze act in Alegría. The performer builds up swing from a still position, and uses the momentum of the swing to execute their tricks. Usually tricks on a swinging trapeze are thrown on the peaks of the swing and involve dynamic movements that require precise timing. Most of the tricks begin with the performer sitting or standing on the bar and end with the performer catching the bar in his/her hands or in an ankle hang (hanging off of the ankles by bracing them between the rope and the bar). This act requires a great deal of strength, grace, and flexibility. Flying trapeze refers to a trapeze act where a performer, or "flyer," grabs the trapeze bar and jumps off a high platform, or pedestal board, so gravity creates the swing. The swing's parts are the cast out at the far end of the first swing, the beat back and rise as the performer swings back above the pedestal board, and then the trick is thrown at the far end of the second swing. The performer often releases the bar and is caught by another performer, the "catcher," who hangs by his or her knees on another trapeze, or sometimes on a cradle, which can be either stationary or also swinging. People of any size are able to execute basic trapeze manoeuvres. Flying trapeze is generally done over a net, or occasionally over water. The flying trapeze was invented in the late 19th century in France by Jules Léotard.