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Hi, everybody. Happy Saturday. Hope you have a great weekend. If you want to learn something about circus families, you're in the right place because this is a throwback select episode to July 2nd, 2015. Circus Families.
Believe it or not, it's a thing. Great, great rich traditions all over the world with circus families, fathers and mothers teaching sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, teaching nieces and nephews how to swing on trapezes and climb ropes and do flips and ride motorcycles. Here we go. How circus families work.
Welcome to Stuff You Should Know. A production of I Heart Radio. Hey, and welcome to the podcast, I'm Josh Clark. It's Charles to be Chuck Bryant and Jerry, which makes this the flying as as Kate's flying stuff. Stuffy and stuffy nose. Oh, Stefanie's the flying Steffanie. Nice man, boy. See, look at that. Took us, what, seven seconds, maybe even months to come up with the best name in the history of podcasting circus teams.
Yeah, we'll go back and look at the time stamp after this. Public will know for sure, but I say less than seven seconds. The Flying Stefanie's.
Yeah. Good job, man. All right. I guess we can retire.
We've hit it big here. We have. You can make some money being a circus family. I learned.
Yeah, I have no idea about costs. So you will delight me because I think everyone. Well, not everyone. I think some people, when they go to the circus, they're like, what's that guy make for throwing knives? Oh, I have no idea what they make.
It's just. Oh, and I got from this research.
Gotcha. And I thought you had some hard numbers. I know you're the statman, remember. I know. But people, you know, it's rude to talk about money so people don't share these things these days.
That's why I'm not saying anything. I'm just telling you the impression I had. They're always strutting around with goblets full of really expensive wine. Yeah. Circus family.
So, you know, yeah.
They got, you know, every time I think we're all circus out, there comes another topic.
Well, we have yet to do how circuses themselves work. We will do that one day.
So we've done all of its component, every last one after that. Well, it does have interesting history. So we will save that then.
Yeah, we I do I do have circuses working. We should also say I don't want anybody to have the impression that by talking about circus families, we are endorsing circuses in general. I have serious issues with some of them. Wrestle with them for the most part. Oh. Like because of their treatment of animals. Yeah, but a lot of them don't use animals at all anymore. Oh, not a lot of them. Some of them don't.
I have no problem with the circuses. Yeah. Like I remember the Big Apple Circus. They have a dog thing.
Well dogs, I mean we're going to do a horse thing and I think that was it.
And horses loved to show off. So I'm OK with the big.
Yeah, you wouldn't, you know. But no, no, they wouldn't show like an elephant.
Right, right. Which is funny because apparently an elephant is equal to a family circus performer.
Oh yeah. I saw that I a circus family performer. Family Circus is totally different. Yeah.
This is a little frustrating to research because I kept getting lots of circular cartoons that weren't funny. You know, they're funny.
Well, OK, they're well they're not funny.
I think they're charming and heartwarming. Yeah, sure.
You know, Jeffie wrote on the wall. Right. It's not funny, but it's cute. They're a little hair and the nose is in the they're cute.
Uh, I have a brief Segway here initially that reminded me I was just at max function, uh, the the weekend retreat of Jesse Thorn in his podcasting empire. Everybody loved you.
That picture of you and Hodgeman and Justin McIlroy's kid.
Yeah, well, baby Charlie. Yeah, very cute. Yeah. I think people love babies. Hodgeman, who doesn't seem particularly like kids, was like, give me that baby, you know.
Yeah. Um, my husband likes kids. At least he likes his own kids.
Asher Um, so I was just there. And first of all, let me recommend the Super Ego podcast, very funny improv podcast featuring Matt Gawley and Paul Tompkins and Mark McConville and Jeremy Carter. You could have stopped it, Paul, if Tom. Yeah, right. Yeah. Um, but one man improvises like it's not the best he can do it. A very good.
Yeah, he does. I've seen it. So anyway, long story short, we were playing this game one night where we were naming comic strips in the comic strip. Mark Trail came up. Oh man.
You remember that. Well, it wasn't even trying to be funny. Well no, it wasn't funny at all, but it wasn't even like, interesting. It was literally like, you know, the what a beautiful sunset today.
Right now, it's retracing the trail of a hawk in the sky, like through eight panels. Yeah, I thought it was refreshing in a little ways.
Like, you just make it all like through a whole area spasm of laughter after like Funky Winkerbean or Haggarty, the horrible you needed to, like, wind chill out. I couldn't remember that. So you'd like read the Mark Trail. Yeah. And then, like, you go at it again and just laugh and laughs. And Beetle Bailey, we just put you in stitches and then maybe you come down a little on Mary Worth or apartment 3G. Oh, back up on Wizard of ID.
Back down with Brenda Starr.
Right. Yeah, that's the way you do it. But Mark Trail, I don't want to knock it too much because I believe it, like taught kids about nature and conservancy and stuff like that.
But and how to follow a trail in the sky didn't belong in the comics section, but I don't know.
But it was a comic strip. Yeah. A lot of those comics were like they started out a lot of things started out as comics like Lone Ranger comic. Oh, really sure. The comic strip or comic book? Because some have been both, you know, well, to bolster my point, let's say comic strip. OK, OK, that's great.
It might have actually started out as a radio show.
And I think about it, hey, that that worked out well. I was thinking, how can we kill some time here before we do circus's.
That's how Family Circus Tangent. So Family Circus is when I first joined the Family Circus Families, when I first started researching, I was like, what a weird thing to be in a circus family. And then I thought it might be weird to be in one, but not weird that there are circus families because it makes total sense. Sure that it's the family business. Well, that's how circuses largely started out. Yeah, very familial. It was, you know, like some patriarch of a family would find out that, hey, I'm kind of good at juggling.
Why don't I try doing it while I stand on the back of a moving horse? Sure. And they go, holy cow, I'm actually doing this. Yeah. And they'd say, well, let me see what happens when I toss my sons in the air instead of juggling, you know, batons, juggle my sons.
If I set their hair on fire using some sort of safe flammable material that will burn but not burn the sun, say, yeah.
Like have a flame retardant cap. Sure.
That's yeah. Then all of a sudden you've got a circus family. And like these people we would start out by, you know, the whole family would get involved. And this is the time when there were much larger families than there are today. And they would form their own mini circus and travel around. And as circuses became more and more established and entrenched and divided among some very big names, they started basically freelancing for these things, like they go on a tour, a couple of tours be, you know, with the large circus for a couple of years, and then they go off and get on another tour or something like that.
Yeah, but they would form these family acts. And that's how circuses originally got started.
Yeah. And apparently it's it just the more you look at it, the more it makes sense. You know, they're on the road a lot. And if you want to spend time with your family, get your family in the family business, because then mom and dad aren't on the road doing their equestrian act. They are bringing the kids along and teaching them. And all of a sudden they're the the riding Stefano's. Right. And they're spending time together.
And it's you know, I read a few interviews with people in circus families. And apparently, if you were not from a circus family, this quote from the Big Apple Circus, guest director Steve Smith said, For those those of us who didn't grow up in the circus, there's always a feeling as if we're on the outside looking in. Yeah.
On what they call, quote, being circus. Yeah.
Like, if you're born into a circus family and you're in the circus, you have automatic prestige. Yeah. You're part of a dynasty. And that's being circus.
Yeah. It's like real police. If you're a fan of the wire. Sure. There's cops and there's real police.
Yeah. But like, if you were born into being police, which a lot of cops are.
Yes. Also another family tradition job. Yes. I don't know. A little podcasters are going to come along. We're not at that point yet where like there's been a generation.
Oh no. You know not yet but yeah maybe a little.
Charlie McIlroy will be a podcast little maybe. Um, and then they call they say marrying inside the circus also makes a lot of sense because where are you going to meet people, but probably fellow performers, other circus family.
So these are not towner's. If you're not like like you and I are towner's. Yeah. OK, slack jawed yokels. Yeah. Yeah sure. Oh look at that thing on fire and jump through it. Yeah.
There's a there's a pretty neat article on PBS called Being Circus Life in the Family Business about being born into a circus family.
It seems like a pretty cool life. I mean, you know, they go to school on the road and I think it's like one big family because they say, you know, if you're in a trapeze act, you can't be mad at your dad who is catching you in the trapeze act tonight. So I think you've got to let it drop you. Yeah, well, you know, you can't go into performance. A dangerous performance like the Globe of Death, harboring any animosity toward your siblings.
Right. So you got to work this stuff out. You know, they're they're tight knit people. Right.
And it seems like the custom is that once you are done performing as a member of a circus family, there's a non-performing job for you ready and waiting in the circus elsewhere, like in administration or something like that.
I thought you were going to say break a deal, face the wheel. Long standing tradition in the circus. I know. Welcome to Bordertown.
I watch that. Not too long ago, I told you I think I watched the whole Mad Max trilogy. Oh, yeah. Yeah. The Quadrilogy now. Well, yeah, I think it's the trilogy plus one. I'm like, Durham is our plus one on the Northeast tour. Yep. The lousy people of Durham. Get it together, dirham. Um, all right, so you want to talk about some of these famous families, you know, you married into it, you're born into it, and then before you know, and it seems like they always have a lot of kids, too.
Yeah. Like seven children because you need seven to complete a pyramid. Exactly.
That way, probably if you think you need help, you know, tending to the farm, imagine having like a circus act. Yeah, that's a good point. And some circus families also kind of expand, especially once they form a troupe. They'll expand the family act to include non-family members. Sure. Where they're members of the troupe, they're not members of the family, but never for any outsider. They're like, oh, there's like three dads here.
Yeah, but they take the traditional blood oath, I think, you know, just so they fit themselves with an elephant tusk that's still attached to the elephant. Yeah, that's right. And then they do a trapeze act that's got to hurt. Yeah.
So let's talk about the Clarks, one of the earliest, um, British circus families. Any relation to you? Probably. Can't you tell? Sure. You see me on the high wire. I have.
You're quite skilled. Uh, yes. They the clerks go all the way back to the very first circuses because a man named Phillip Assoli is credited as being the inventor of the modern circus in the late seventeen hundreds.
Right. And he heard about John Clark, who is a horseman.
And a lot of these people were horse people. Yeah, it's a good way to start in the circus to be good on a horse. Exactly. He John Clark was good on a horse. He caught the attention of Phillip Astley and in the early 19th century, they started a circus act. Yeah, it was an aerial act at first, right? It seems like any time you're good, then the Ringling Brothers will come to call in at some point.
Yeah, for sure. To snap you up. Yeah, because they are the greatest show on Earth. That's right. Um, the one of the ways also to cement your family act as a dynasty. Yeah. In addition to having multiple generations that stay in the circus is to create some new thrilling move that no one else has done before. Yeah. Like the Clarks are credited with coming up with the triple back somersault in 1999, right?
Oh, yeah. And the whole the Clark family dynasty actually broke up because of World War Two. World War Two, interestingly, had a really direct impact on a lot of circus families, and the clerks were among them. So the men went off to war. I'm sure some of them died when they returned, were like, I seen too much to go back into the circus. And it was up to Ernestine Clark, who was a great granddaughter of John Clark, I believe.
Right. To carry on the family business. Yes.
She single handedly and daughter of Ernest, her name was actually Elizabeth Laurer, but she looks so much like earnest. People call her Little Ernie. And she yeah, she eventually went by Ernestine. I guess she was like, I might as well just make this a little more feminine.
It's like a family circus trip. And she did soldier on, um, you know, after World War Two, like you said, it's so crazy to think about these famous people going and joining the army. Well, Elvis did. Yeah, Elvis was in the army.
I he was also probably, like, more protected than Prince Harry is.
Sure. But he was still in the army. Sure. And famous athletes like, can you imagine, like Justin Bieber is in the army to fight in the Middle East?
No, I really, really just doing his duty. I can, as an American, just a different time.
It's just mind boggling to think about the mindset back then, you know, do you know I got my haircut recently by the guy who created the Bieber haircut. Back in the day, where is that why you went to him? No, I didn't find out until partway through and I was like, please don't give me a beeper, please. Which was the sweetpea in your face? Yes.
Yep. Wow. Yeah. So he was Bieber stylist. Yes.
Early on and gave him that haircut and then cool.
I guess, man, I was like one degree from Justin Bieber. Oh, I think we all are. So is everybody. I don't know if you found this. I thought this is pretty amazing. The Clerks performance group early on were called the Clerks Unions. I thought that was pretty good.
It's weird. It's so funny. Like, for some reason, if you're a circus promoter, you're like, that is not nearly Italian enough at an in oney or something on the Internet, even if it doesn't work like Clark Onin.
Yeah. Or as we'll hear about later, the Homogenise. Yeah. This is that's, that's senseless.
It is pretty senseless. But you can thank circus promoters for coming up with those horrible hybrids of names.
Yeah, I think there's a rich tradition in Italy. So they just it sounded, you know, fanciful. Yeah.
So Earnestine carried the torch. She finally left the circus in the 1950s and had a husband that was a part time circus performer, part time actor and her little girls who Parli. Yeah, part of who you early baia.
He was the mayor and Andy Griffith. Oh, no way. And if you look up his his credit, he was in everything he like, made appearances and everything, like you would recognize him immediately. Interesting. He's been in everything from Three's Company to the Golden Girls.
He was just in everything. Oh, wow. That's pretty awesome. Bewitched. Yeah. Did I say Three's Company.
Yeah, he did. I'll say it again. Uh, so she married the famous actor and then her daughters became trapeze artist, carrying on the family tradition. And Ernestine eventually became the first daughter to follow her father into the International Circus Hall of Fame. Nice.
And I have a little clip here. Give me the old New York Times article.
Sometimes the PDF twins. Oh, it's the best ones with 18 different headlines.
Yeah, yeah. Basically read the headline. This says several headlines, actually.
So this is about Clark Earnest Clark in New York City and Madison Square Garden. And the first headline is Trapeze Man noted for Twist and er Earnest Clark of Ringling Circus turns at right angles and leap for life line line.
Broken Rib brings panic I'm sorry. Pain line line and then writhing action during triple somersault starts sweat of agony. All right.
And then in the article it says Clarkes feet is apparently in defiance of all the laws of mechanics, for he turns his body in the air and a pirouette at right angles to its line of flight with no other leverage that he can exert by a thrust of his shoulders. That's some journalism. It is, and then later, when they're describing and describing Ms.
Clark as a small, almost slight man, but with a large, wonderfully developed chest, with a great heart beating inside old New York Times articles are just the best.
I would say all old newspapers, period.
But there are times they knew what they're doing. Yeah, you could access you can access that stuff today pretty easily. Mm hmm. Pretty neat.
You know, I looked up what that line and staying alive means about The New York Times. Don't make a man does that in the song Stayin Alive, The New York Times to make me.
Oh, I never knew that's what they were saying. Yeah. So what does that mean? It means basically at the time that if like if it wasn't in The New York Times, it doesn't matter. And this is about a man whose life still does matter, even though it's not worthy of being reported on in The New York Times.
Who? John Travolta or the character? Yeah, I can't remember his name.
Tony Manero. Right. I think is Scarface. Tony Marronnier was a Tony.
It's probably Tony. I think it's funny, you know. So that movie was based on an article in New York magazine. Yeah. And it turned out the guy who wrote it made the whole thing up from beginning to end. I heard that I made it up crazy. Yeah, but it's still worth reading. Yeah. Who cares?
And especially if you know that he made it up, you're like, how did how did anybody buy this this kind of like like on the spot reporting is just done by a handful of people. Sure.
And he found this guy that worked in a hardware store in Brooklyn and. Yeah. And then like was there like with the was was able to like almost omniscient, like track like the people that came into this guy's orbit. Yeah. Yeah.
It's funny that the editors were like, wow, you did a really good job here. Not near a fraud. Yeah.
Who cares. Yeah. They should have. Just when I hear things like that I'm like to say it's fiction from the beginning. Right. It's still interesting. Yeah. It's like when the guy that the author wrote about his drug rehab, James Frey. Yeah.
That was a great book. And I remember at the time when that all came out, I was like, maybe I should just call it fiction. It's a really good book, but I thought I follow that story and thought the same thing like.
Like why why would you why would you say that every word of this is accurate. Yeah. Doesn't make any sense. We will get back to Cercas families, believe it or not, right after this message.
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So, Chuck, sometimes the if the family circus, the circus family can get in front of a show promoter, yeah, they can have some sort of control over their own name. Sure. The change that comes to it and that is the case with the Hobsons Robert Hobson, who left England for the US in 1868 and started a family. A circus family act. Yeah, acrobats, family act. That's right.
And apparently he was noted for tossing his sons about like Indian rubber.
You know, that means it means he was basically throwing his sons all over the place and they're just landing places.
Well, no, I get that. But I've just I don't know what Indian rubber is.
I think that they were very pliable. OK, gotcha. Uh, so with the name change, they were originally Hobson, I'm sorry, originally Nelson. But changed their name. No, it was Hopsin first. Oh was. Oh yeah. Changed to Nelson man. It gets confusing. Right. So he called themselves Professor Nelson and Sons. Right. The son. So he tossed about like Indian rubber. Right.
But it's not like Nelson's no better than Hobson. This is strange.
Yeah. He changed it supposedly allegedly because he wanted to pay homage to a former stage partner that I guess had died or moved on or whatever.
Well, that makes I couldn't find the person's name, whoever the Nelson was, but it was a no match.
Well, maybe he wanted anonymity as well.
Yeah, but he's probably on the run from the law. So the Nelsons became the great Nelson family because they they follow that tradition of like needing more people more quickly than they could reproduce. Right. So they brought in other performers who weren't family members and they became the great Nelson family. And then ultimately the flying Nelson, which is what they became famous as the flying Nelsons.
Yeah. And here's I thought the cool little factoid about them in the early I'm sorry, late 1920s granddaughter Hilda taught a lot, was hard to teach. Lon Chaney, the actor, how to walk the High Wire in a movie called Laugh Clown Laugh. And then all of the Nelsons were in a movie called Circus Rookies in nineteen twenty eight. Yeah. So they still continue, I think not as the Nelsons, but they said their ancestors, some of which still perform.
Yeah they, they basically retired mostly by nineteen thirty five. Yeah. But then yeah. Some carried on. Sure.
What about the Flying Wallendas. These are the ones that everybody knows.
Everybody's heard of that it's sort of that became part of the lexicon. Yeah.
The Flying Wallendas. Yeah. And funnily enough the Flying Wallendas actually got their name from a newspaper headline that dubbed them that because four of them fell from a high wire.
Yeah. In Akron, Ohio. And they said, oh, like the Flying Wallendas.
Yeah. They said the quote was the the the Wallendas. Wallendas, the Wallendas fell so gracefully that it seemed as if they were flying. But I wonder, like there were other flying flying Nilsson's like, was this the first one?
I wonder, though, Lindus know because The Flying Nilsson's recalled that long before the middle of the 20th century. So, yeah, I didn't think it was a natural sure.
Word to apply to a circus family that did acrobatics right there flying. And they definitely did acrobatics. And they were they cemented their legacy for the seven person chair pyramid. Wait for it on high wire. No nets, no nets, no harnesses. Very dangerous. So dangerous, in fact, that Carl Wallenda, who was the patriarch at the time, died at age 73 from a fall on the high wire.
Yeah, they had a lot of tragedy when they had the pyramid collapse in 1962. Two people died and Karlson Mario was paralyzed. Carl goes on to die. They had a sister in law who fell to her death in 1963. And then in 1944, they were the group performing when the Hartford Circus fire broke out. Oh, really? So their act was going on. These tents were made of they were coated in paraffin wax at the time and probably kerosene to keep it from to keep it waterproof.
Right. Paraffin wax is highly flammable. So kerosene, so kerosene and a little sidewall started. And during their performance, the bandleader spotted it. And apparently and they should tell everyone this, the song Stars and Stripes Forever is a warning signal to the circus performers. Oh, really? He said, start playing that. And that signaled like big trouble is ahead. And one hundred and sixty six to sixty nine people died. Yeah.
Didn't only have one point of entrance, entrance or exit I think. I don't know.
I know that some of the exits were blocked because they had like the ramp set up for the lions and stuff to come through, like portals. Yeah. And so they couldn't get out that way. So you might be right. Yeah. That was one of the deadliest fires in U.S. history.
A that's a bad fire. Yeah, there were a bunch of circus fires.
I read about two or three I would guess if you have huge canvas tents, a lot of hay on the ground. Yeah. And they're coated in a flammable material. Yeah. And everybody smoked.
Sure. Like cigars. Yeah. And then we'll just they they still don't know. There was a guy that claimed responsibility as an arsonist but he, they don't think he did it.
He was mentally ill and although he was an arsonist, just not that, just not that time. So the Wallendas have become synonymous with circus tragedy. Yeah, absolutely. Rangeley. But they also hasn't overshadowed their accomplishments there in the world. The Guinness Book of World Records for the world's first and only 10 person pyramid on a tightrope. Consider this. Several of their family members died doing this and they went on to not only redo it, but to add three more seats, three more will Endace.
Yeah, that's crazy. So they set a world record. And then Nik Wallenda, who has been on Discovery Channel before, I believe he walked over the Grand Canyon. What channel? Discovery Channel.
Have you heard of it? Gotcha. They I think he was the one who walked over the Grand Canyon.
He definitely walked over Chicago in between two skyscrapers, over a 600 foot drop.
Yeah, man, that stuff is just nutty, which is 200 meters crazy. Yeah. On a on a high wire without a net. No, you could put a net at the bottom. It's not going to do anything.
How do we talked about this a little bit recently with the movie coming out about Man on Wire, the tightrope walker between the Twin Towers. Yeah. How does the wind not just knock them off?
Well, that's what that pulls for, to extend their their point of balance point center of gravity. Yeah.
I mean, I knew it helped them balance, but it just seems like the wind could be so fierce it could like like the wind blows me over just walking down the street.
I've seen it really to help you.
That's how you found most of your lucky pennies. Yeah, that's a good point. Hooved them all up. All right. Are we on to the, uh, the hygienist?
Yes, we are the hygienist, which is it started out as the hajjis. Mm hmm. Not good enough.
Let's make it more Italian and add eenie to the end of hajjis.
Yes. Which is what a promoter did to that lovely English surname and the late 19th century. And they have been around for a long time. Three hundred and fifty year ancestry of circus performers. Yeah. It's not bad. It isn't bad. I think it's the oldest in here, the Wallendas went back to the late 18th century. Seventeen hundreds. Yeah, I think the Houdinis might be the oldest one in here.
This one lady I saw that was interviewed, I can't remember her name. She was a 12th generation on one side and seventh on her father's side.
And that's serious being circus. Yeah. So with the hygienist, Chuck, um, they were they were really good with the horse. Yeah. Equestrians. Yeah. They had their own in particular, Harriott, which was one of Albert hygienist, um who I well I guess he wasn't the founder of went back three hundred fifty years but yeah. In early hygene, early 20th century hygene junior late 19th century. Um his kid Harriet would summersault and like dance on the back of a moving horse, which is weird because I've seen that before.
I've seen like footage from the 40s or 50s. So I wonder if I was seeing her because there's probably not that many people walking around on Earth who can do backflips on a horse. It's a good point. Um, but the really notable thing about the hygene is what they did in retirement.
Yeah, I thought that was pretty cool. Tom and Betty Heijne, uh, from Indiana, Peru, Indiana, not to be confused with Peru, the country, Peru, Peru. Yeah. Uh, they retired in 1956. And, uh, businessmen there said, you know, why don't you come and work with some kids and teach them like your craft. And that began what would just like leave us alone, seriously retired. Yeah.
And that the welcome mat now because we put one out, get off our property, uh, that began what is now the, uh, Peru Amateur Circus in which kids perform like ten performances every summer and just sounds like a neat little program.
Yeah. And it's not that little. Apparently tens of thousands of people show up for it. Yeah. Little you know, and it's actually going on July 11th, the 18th. Oh nice. Yeah. Around. I don't know exactly when this one's going to come up, but it will be in time. So if you find yourself from Peru, Indiana, go check out the circus there.
July 11th, eighteenth, Chuck, we got more doing up our sleeves and more anice and we will talk about them right after this.
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You remember you said, Chuckers, that a lot of these families started out as like a great equestrian family. Sure. The Konatsu probably the premier equestrian circus family around. Yes.
They began in 1870, a teenager named Leopold canOt. And they were Hungarian. He he did the old like right out of a storybook. He said, I'm running away and joining the circus. Yeah.
That's another way to found a circus family. Go start your own run off to the circus. Yeah.
Yeah. Start having kids. Yeah.
And then you won't be circus, but your kids will be circus. Yeah. It's got to start somewhere. Exactly. It all starts by running off to the circus. That's right.
Of course he might have married into circus. He. Yeah he probably did. You know Kotov. So not only were they equestrians, they and of course when he was equestrian there, it's always bareback writing tricks almost. Yeah.
But this article actually has it features a a member of the cognacs, Tina canOt, who was competing for the US in the 2012 Olympics. Yeah.
Like, sure, she got out of the circus and said, let me watch something super snobby.
I can go do that. Dressage. I don't know. That's not snobby, though. It just it's actually beautiful and amazing. Yeah. I don't want the equestrians there. You don't want them after you. Is that a hornet's nest?
Yeah, it's a hornet's nest there on horses, for God's sake. And you know, they can run faster than you on a horse.
So like most performers, John Ringling of the Barnum and Bailey Circus caught hold them in 1987, said, you're coming to America. And, um, they perform there for a little while, but then said, you know, we're going to go back to Europe and we're going to start our own circus now.
Just a circus, an American style circus and Wild West show. Yeah, it's good on them, you know.
Yeah, I think it's hilarious. They're like, oh, okay. I guess they're going to go crazy for this in Europe. So the equestrian part of the show is really big in Europe. And then like which was the family, the Clarks World War, to put a dent in all of Europe. And so they said, well, I guess we got to go back to America now.
Yeah. And then they kept performing and eventually stopped. At least they I guess the family legacy was to create equestrian centers. Yeah. So they weren't circus performers any any more. But it's almost like this equestrian family had a brush with circus notoriety and then leverage that. Yeah. And then just continued on as an equestrian family. It's pretty neat.
I make more money in equestrian. I guess so, you know, and then Arthur, Konya, who's one of the original, who's one of the sons of the founder, Leopold, he's in the International Circus Hall of Fame.
Nice. So there you go. So not doing too bad. All right. We got a couple more here. Do you know how to pronounce this one, Togue? And I guess I would say Tony Sonis. That's what I was going to say. Tony Marinaro. Yeah, that's right.
They are another Italian family in Circus Dynasty. And the original founder arrested a Tony, he said was a student. And he said, you know what, I'm done with school and I'm going to go perform the circus, open my have eight kids so I can open my own circus.
Yeah, I get the impression that he decided he was done with school. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So he ran off to the circus. Um, did you have the impression whether his wife was a circus, was a circus family circus performer. I don't know.
Well, she was after they got married, they had kids and set up their own circus. And it was such a success that, um, in 1919, the king of Italy. Or the king of that part of Italy, because I don't when was Italy unified together in a single country? Was it under Mussolini? Oh, boy, I don't know.
It wasn't that long ago.
Yeah, well, King and King, Victor Emmanuel, the third created or said that the Circo Tony was the circle, and that's.
Yeah. And that ran for a while. Again, a circus fire in 1950, one man hit the Circo Nazionale. And from that point, three of the sons split apart and formed three different circus factions. Yeah, that fire spread them far and wide. I guess so.
But they are noteworthy because not only were they a circus family, they were really smart, inventive engineer types and made a lot of advancements in the circus itself.
Like the tent, like the big top tent, the couple. Yeah, they came up with that.
Yeah, they came up with three different design, the round couple in the 1940s, the oblong in the 70s and the the hugely famous round couple of quarter pole free right. In the 90s. And one of the other sons who invented the collapsible seating wagons and a metallic mesh cage that I don't know if that's the globe of death or not.
No, that's theorized as it came up with the the globe of death. All right.
So the metallic mesh cage he invented must have just been like, I don't know, for animals or something. Probably. Yeah. Point as though they were inventors and made some money doing that stuff. Yes. Like designing tents and the like.
And one of the things that we haven't really kind of hit squarely on is the fact that these if you're born into a circus family and you are raised in the circus, um, from what I've read, you're very rarely pressured into being a part of the family.
It's more like this is your reality. So you start doing gymnastics and acrobatics at an early age and you're surrounded by it. Yeah. And then eventually, you know, age six, seven, eight, nine, ten, you end up like being a part of the family act and then the circus at large. But it raises a question to me, like about that 10000 hour myth, like, is it just from practising this stuff at an early age or, you know, or some or is this just the result of some, you know, people who are born acrobats coming together and producing offspring that are born acrobats themselves?
I don't know. It's a great question. It's a good question. Um, I wonder how many times it's happened that you're in a big circus family. You have like seven kids and six of them are in the circus.
And one of them is like, I want to be a city planner. Yep, probably not much. No, we got one more we do the RAICES who did come up with that globe of death in 1912, that globe, that Metal Globe, the United Motorcycles and yeah, that was invented in 1912. Yeah, I had no idea when it seemed I was sure that this thing was probably invented in the 1960s or 70s.
I was going to say 70s. Yeah. Seems like a 70s thing to invent totally, you know. Yeah. But yeah. Because all the way back to 1912 that is nuts.
So the actual globe of death was a 16 foot diameter metal mesh orb. Yeah.
And the idea is, if you haven't seen one of these a just look up a video real quick B crawl out from under that rock you live in right under.
And then, uh, see, it's when you put multiple motorcycle riders that just gun it and fly around this thing without hitting each other. Right? Ideally, yeah.
And they they would add people who are juggling fire in the center of the globe. Sure. Stand riding around it, going up to 60 miles an hour apparently.
And they had the rises in particular were the first to feature female motorcycle riders, the first to feature two female motorcycle riders, because how are you going to top the first one, but instead add two.
And then there's one where the Jodi Arias does the next thing you know, that thing where, like, you just have a harness attached to the back of your head and you spin around.
Yeah. So you vomit, right? Yes. They had her doing that with people going around her on their bikes in circles.
Yeah, it's really impressive. I mean, the precision is is ridiculous when you see I mean, I've seen I don't think it's I mean, they're still doing this act today. I saw another family. They don't have the market cornered on the globe of death. But but they invented it. Yeah.
Yeah. They just killed the copyright or trademark it, I guess.
But I did see another family that was I think they had like eight motorcycles in this thing. It was ridiculous.
And one where they actually brought the the the globe apart. So whether it was a gap that they would be jumping or riding over, yes.
It was suddenly filled with crocodiles now. But these people crashed. When was it? Every couple of weeks now, I looked there was a crash not too long ago, it was in April of this year at the Washington fairgrounds, and there's actually a YouTube of it. It's not, like, remarkable. It just at the very end of their thing, they all just sort of run into each other, really. But that was a fractured leg and some broken ribs.
But other than that, everyone was OK and got right back up on the horse. Iron horse. The iron horse. The steel horse.
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I'm going to call this we misspoke on something and the Bridges episode, oh, I did. Chuck, I take full responsibility and we like to point these things out. Uh, do you want to set this up?
Yeah. In the Bridges episode, I talked about the Hyatt Regency Skywalk collapse. Remember, you made that Lionel Richie joke and all that. So, yeah, in nineteen eighty one. Well, like 104, I believe. One hundred and fourteen people ultimately died from this thing. And I said that it was because they were dancing on the skywalk at a time. Totally not true. There is a tea dance going on in the lobby below and people were standing on the skywalk looking at it and the skywalk apparently in the design, there had been a change in design that nobody did the numbers and crunched the math on, and this thing could barely hold up its dead weight.
And then once you had, you know, a few dozen people on it, the the fourth story, Skywalk, collapsed onto the second story, Skywalk, and both of them collapsed under the ground. Gotcha. It was it's crazy if you look up the Hyatt Regency skywalk collapse and look at some of the images, just the destruction is amazing. Wow.
All right. So I guess you just picked out the we heard from a few people who picked out probably the nicest one, I would imagine. That's what we usually try to do. Hey, guys, wanted to point out your explanation of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency collapse cited the wrong cause.
The collapse was due to a change that was made to the initial design, to walkways were supposed to be supported by long continuous threaded steel rods from the ceiling. Design was changed to two separate rods. Uh, it should be noted that the original design was determined to hold only 60 percent of the minimum building code load. And the way it was built would only support half of that.
Not enough, not nearly enough.
One bridge failure that should be mentioned is the Quebec bridge crossing the St. Lawrence River. Uh, this bridge collapsed twice when it was being built. And it's cited as a reason behind the idea of registering and licensing engineers to practice something that is the standard throughout the world now. And that is from Taylor, who is a geotechnical engineer branch of civil engineering that deals with soils, rocks and foundations. Uh, she said or he I don't know which that I make sure the ground can support the structure.
Thanks a lot, Taylor. It's pretty neat job, I guess, and very important. Yeah. And thanks for the email. We appreciate that. And I went back and looked to try to figure out where I got that info, but I swear I did not make up.
Don't you hate that? Yeah, I've been called out on stuff that I've read and I couldn't find the source. Yeah. And it's still wrong, but it's maddening.
It's like I know I didn't just create my own brain. Yeah. So we believe.
But thanks to everybody who wrote in and said, hey dudes, that is absolutely wrong because we want to make sure we get it right. So if we got something wrong that you want to point out and correct this and let us know, you can tweet to us that as why as podcast, you can join us on Facebook dot com slash stuff. You should know you can send us an email to Stuff podcast at HowStuffWorks dot com. And as always, join us at our home on the web stuff you should know Dotcom.
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