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Beauty And The Beast: The Wild History Of Female Animal Trainers; Barbara Woodcock: The Elephant Trainer

2021-03-17 - Ruskin, United States.

Barbara Woodcock’s career began in the 1930s as a child working with her parents at their small operation, Marlowe’s Mighty Hippodrome. Educated as a leopard trainer and aerialist, her career took a major U-turn after meeting William “Buckles” Woodcock, her future husband. From 1982 to 2000, they performed with the Big Apple Circus, adding their children to the shows.


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people

Stewart Craven

2013-04-29 - Ruskin, United States.

As elephant herds with circuses grew larger, Craven is credited as being the innovator of the pyramid type elephant act in America introducing long mounts on bull tubs etc. The first being with Howes Great London and later improved versions with the Forepaugh Show and Cooper & Bailey. He later became a successful Animal Dealer and the owner of a large ranch near Dallas, Texas where he died Jan. 16, 1890.


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people
Ben Williams and his mother Barbara Woodcock make a grand entrance in an undated photo. Williams died Oct. 2.

Human half of famed circus duo has died

2009-10-14 - Ruskin, United States.

Ben Williams, who was born into a circus family and made a name for himself both inside and outside the Big Top, died this month of cancer. He was 56. Williams was best known as a flamboyant, tiger-skin-loincloth-clad performer who delighted crowds by fearlessly cavorting around elephants, particularly his beloved 7,880-pound Anna May. But he had another side apart from the circus, as East Bay High's first male cheerleader and president of the National Honor Society.


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death
Williams first rode an elephant when he was 4 months old. “He knew their moves, and they knew his moves,” said his mother, Barbara Woodcock, 75. Williams later thrilled crowds as he rode Anna May — billed as the “world’s smartest performing elephant.”

Ben Williams rode to his niche on the backs of elephants

2009-10-08 - Ruskin, Florida, United States. Andrew Meacham

The crowd hunkered in the dark as smells of cotton candy and peanuts filled the air. "And now, please welcome …" the ringmaster intoned over a drumroll before the payoff: "Ben Williams and Anna May!" The curtain opened, and in trotted an elephant carrying a blond man in a loincloth. "The crowd would scream," recalled Michael Christensen, a co-founder of Big Apple Circus, where Mr. Williams and his elephants performed. Mr. Williams was a star, and the act never failed. He was so attached to Ann...


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book

WILD BEASTS, BIRDS AND REPTILES OF THE WORLD - THE STORY OF THEIR CAPTURE by P.T. Barnum published 1888

2008-08-25 - Ruskin, United States. Eric Beheim, Buckles WebLog

"Toug-Toulog" the sacred white elephant was imported to the Barnum & London Show in 1884 and thus began the famous White Elephant War between Barnum and his rival Adam Forepaugh who simply painted an elephant white.
Since Albino elephants are actually somewhat gray in color, Barnum's elephant was something of a disappointment whereas Forepaugh's (John) was as white as the driven snow, leading to charges and counter charges of fakery.
Three years later "Toug-Toulog" and three other ...


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blog

RBBB 1951

2008-05-14 - Ruskin, United States. Dom Yodice

Here is one of the best "Foot in Face" photos I have ever seen.
It's Ringling-Barnum 1951 with Arky Scott, the wonderful Jeanne Sleeter and of course "Minyak".


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Günther Gebel-Williams jump (from Ron Jarvis)

2008-03-25 - Ruskin, United States. Williams Woodcock

This shot reminds me of pictures I took of Gunther and the RBBB parade
going through NY'S Central Park in 1993, but it is so much more wonderful; it says so much. God bless the photographer who caught this wonderful moment! //Paul G.


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Forest elephant and Zoo director Rudolf Weber in Duesseldorf Zoo 1937

Waldelefant Cäsar (From Filipe von Gilsa)

2008-03-21 - Ruskin, United States.

Hello Mister Woodcock, Enclosed some photos. 1. photo forest elephantbull at Duesseldorf Zoo 30ties. -"Despite a full head of hair, I know Herr Hugo Schmitt when I see him." //Buckles
-On the photo is Zoo director Rudolf Weber in Duesseldorf Zoo 1937//Filipe von Gilsa


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1955 Quite a year! #10

2008-03-14 - Ruskin, United States.

Anonymous said: Is there 36 elephants or are there more? Buckles said: At this point there were 51 elephants in quarters, no reason they wouldn't all be in this picture. The men in blue uniforms were Arky Scott, Smokey Jones, Hugo Schmitt and Louie Reed.


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Joey Ratliff at Buckles Weblog: Circus Knie in Switzerland

2008-03-13 - Ruskin, United States.

Buckles, here is another elephant on leash at Circus
Knie. The calf tied to the mother is pretty common,
but elephant man Ruppert Bemmerl seems to leading both
by whip and leash. Thanks. Joey


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film

Here is an interesting video from Mike Naughton: Cole Bros Circus 1949

2008-03-03 - Ruskin, United States. Buckles Woodcock

This film appears to have been made very early in the season, if not the opening day. Canvas looks band new and everyone is bundled up as tho in early spring. We were on the show the previous season (1948) and the biggest change I noticed was the panel banner line. The performance had changed from the Cristiani's and Hubert Castle to the Hannefords, Con Colleano and Barbette. My dad always said the Cole Show elephant acts were the worst he was ever associated with and with the exception of the w...


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Samson and Scott Riddle

Samson and Scott Riddle

2008-03-03 - Ruskin, United States. William Buckles Woodcock

This is the biggest elephant I ever saw.

Jim A. said: I believe his name was Samson at the L.A. Zoo. I visited Scott Riddle and somewhere have a photo with Scott, Samson, and myself. Strange feeling to look up to see an elephant's chin -- he was BIG.


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blog

The Heritage of the Greatest Show on Earth #8

2008-03-01 - Ruskin, United States.

Super Cuts said: For those unaware, the pretty girl standing next to her brother, the one with the bad hair cut, is Kenny's sister, Karen. Karen was once involved with Jack Cassidy, the father of David Cassidy and former husband of Shirley Jones (Partrige Family on tv when it had rabbit ears). For reasons unknown to us, Karen has been banished from KennyFeld Land. Buckles can confirm is the baby elephant Karen, named after the Party Girl herself? Buckles said: The baby elephant was indeed named ...


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John Ringling North and Henry North

The Heritage of the Greatest Show on Earth #5: John Ringling North and Henry North

2008-03-01 - Ruskin, United States. William Buckles Woodcock, Ben Trumble, J Goodall

Ben Trumble said: JRN has that look of somebody who rather have been posed with something other than an elephant.


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Dailey Bros. Circus 1950 #1 (From Joey Ratliff)

2008-02-29 - Ruskin, United States. William Buckles Woodcock

Here are some photos of Dailey Bros. in Ames, Iowa in 1950.
In the fourth picture, is the little bull Tommy? //Joey. "When I showed this picture to Barbara she immediately recognized the second elephant "Myrtle" from the first elephant act she ever performed in, she appeared in Ring 5 with "Myrtle", "Jenny" and "Jap", trained and presented by the celebrated Robert Jones.//Buckles. David said: I never realized that Dailey Bros. Circus was so large as to have 5 rings. I'm curious as to what...


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blog

RBBB 1956 #8

2008-02-21 - Ruskin, United States. William Buckles Woodcock

Two punks collared to big elephants for spec. The African is "Diamond", trained by Hugo Schmitt the following winter in Sarasota and well remembered from his latter days in the Knoxville Zoo.


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blog

Blue Show 116th Edition

2008-02-18 - Ruskin, United States. William Buckles Woodcock


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Assorted Ringling pictures #12

2008-02-11 - Ruskin, United States. William Buckles Woodcock

This well known 50 elephant picture appeared in 1933, the Ringling's 50th Anniversary 1884-'33. The only problem was that the show only carried 41 elephants at the time so Roland Butler gets credit for increasing the herd.
This came to light some years ago in Bandwagon Magazine when it was proved that an additional row of elephants had been added to this 1932 Grant's Park photo. I always knew this was the case since the male "Sammy" can be seen at right in both rows 1 and 2.


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blog
Florian Richter seen here with the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Baileys Blue Unit 1980 in Madison Sq. Garden

Florian Richter- 2008 Monte Carlo Gold Clown Winner!

2008-01-22 - Ruskin, United States. Buckles Woodcock / Raffaele de Ritis

Awards (maybe too much) of this year's Monte Carlo. And this is just the official jury awards: dozens of special awards have been given too from donors, as usual. GOLD: Pellegrini bros. - handstands, Florian Richter - equestrian acrobat
Li Wei - slack wire


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blog

Patty Zerbini and "Luke" (From Joey Ratliff)

2008-01-09 - Ruskin, United States. William Buckles Woodcock

Here's a couple of pictures of Miss Zerbini and Luke from the '07 Gold Unit. Good to see she is back for 2008 but I agree she needs a bigger act for her talents. //Joey.
Unfortunately this is unlikely to happen since for one reason or another, of the 50 or so elephants in storage at Williston and Polk City, none are road worthy. That's the reason outside elephants had to be hired in the first place.
//Buckles


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blog

Cole Bros. Circus 1946

2008-01-05 - Ruskin, United States. William Buckles Woodcock

Here are a couple of Harry Quillen photos, my dad wrote on the back of this one, "Pasadena, Cal. taken from Suicide Bridge.".


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This picture taken in Scotland in 1899.

Barnum and Baileys europe tour: "Fritz" in parade

2008-01-04 - Ruskin, United States. William Buckles Woodcock

Wayne Jackson: Somewhere in my library I remember reading about the three bulls and about Fritz being shot in France, most likely because he was just too much to handle (possibly in musth)? That may also be the reason for the second bull’s death, the third bull was dumped over board before they landed back in the U.S., possibly for the same reason? Bob Cline: If this helps any, I have the following information listed. NICK - Stoke on Trent, England Nov.12, 1898, FRITZ - Tours, France June 11, ...


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DeLand, Florida #1 (From Jim Elliott)

2007-06-26 - Ruskin, United States. Buckles Woodcock

While on the subject of the Beatty Show, Jim Elliot took these pictures 10 or 12 years ago of Fred Logan reorganizing the elephants for the one-ring format they were going to. Who would have thought that this would later become the benchmark the Ken & Nicole units are trying so unsuccessfully to accomplish?


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Buckles WebLog: From Circus Whitey

2006-11-29 - Ruskin, Florida, United States. Buckles Woodcock and Ole Whitey

Apparently this was taken in Nashville the fall of 1938 when the Barnes-Sells-Floto show with RBBB Features played here. In the background is the old Broad Street viaduct and the flats are being unloaded out of sight to the right, in what we used to call the Kayne Avenue Yards. I had initially thought this an early 1940s pic but you pointed out that the heavily-loaded wagon sides suggested Barnes.


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Black Diamond, Monroe Bros. Circus 1925

2006-11-25 - Ruskin, Florida, United States. Buckles Woodcock

This is a picture from my collection, taken the same day and presents a more detailed view of the show. Johnny: Just awesome, those photos of Bill Woodcock, Black Diamond and A.M. Cauble overland circus and amazing to me is this true story. Bear with me. A few years back I booked our family acts with a friend of mine who had a nice canopy type Wild West Show with bucking bulls, bronks, trick riding, etc.


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Buckles WebLog: Ladies of the Steel Arena #1 Vol. 4 (From Jim Cole) Harriet Beatty

2006-11-20 - Ruskin, Florida, United States. Buckles Woodcock

This is a picture , taken at the Rochester, Ind. Quarters, of a second act being trained later for Mrs. Beatty. The elephant chosen was "Anna May", namesake of the elephant that was in our family for so many years.
Eddie Allen later told me that this number was really "touch and go" and in fact, at the dress rehearsel the night before the Cole Show's indoor opening in Chicago, "Anna May" unloaded the cats and made an exit right thru the side of the arena.


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This unusual picture of the complete herd taken in McCook, Nebraska 1944-07-29

Buckles WebLog: 14 Elephants at Cole Bros. Circus 1944

2006-11-18 - Ruskin, Florida, United States. Buckles Woodcock

For those of you astonished viewers who think I can identify these elephants from the rear, I must confess, my father wrote their names on the back of the picture:1. Blanche 2. Jean 3. Big Babe 4. Big Jenny 5. Louie 6. Little Babe 7. Tony 8. Katie 9. Nellie 10. Wilma 11. Tessie 12. Little Jenny 13. Carrie 14. Trilby.


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Jenda Smaha on Safari in Africa

Jenda Smaha Farewell!

2006-11-12 - Ruskin, Florida, United States. Buckles Woodcock

Standing room only at Jenda's funeral today and attended by the absolute cream of Sarasota circus society. This followed by an exquisite catered meal at the Club. The bombshell of this afternoon's soiree came when an announcement was made that the Kelly-Miller Circus had been purchased by none other than John Ringling North III, himself.


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Kalli Frank cleaning off Sahib on Circus Knie 1964

European Elephants #1 (Photos and comments from Filipe Von Gilsa)

2006-11-12 - Ruskin, Florida, United States. Buckles Woodcock

I received this very interesting material from Mr. Von Gilsa via Deutsche Post.


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Olga Astley with elephant "Rosie" in the 1930"s (Buckles Woodcocks Weblog)

2006-10-17 - Ruskin, Florida, United States. Sue Lenz

These are pictures taken of my mother in the 1930's, the elephant she used to present was called "Rosie". After the family finished with the circus, she was sold to the Bristol Zoo where she gave elephant rides for many years.
Mother also had a dog and pony act, as well as an act with geese.


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event
Elephant George and Charlie Gray

Charlie Gray Commercial

2006-10-07 - Ruskin, Florida, United States. Buckles Woodcock

Hi Buckles, I saw on the Blog that some people thought we filmed those commercials on Blue Screen and added the girl after, let me assure you we did not. The shots were all done with the little girl right there and George was a little soldier. Here are some of the photos from the shoot. We filmed the beach scene up on Lake Huron and we had to swim George out to a platform and when they shot we had to duck under the water. Lake Huron is cold and it is deep too.
Charlie


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"Jumbo" circa 1870

2006-09-01 - Ruskin, Florida, United States. Buckles Woodcock

Just received this from Dave Price. This picture is new to me.


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10 Headlines about Elephants from Ruskin, Florida2009-10-08 - Ruskin, Florida, United States - Ben Williams rode to his niche on the backs of elephants 2006-11-29 - Ruskin, Florida, United States - Buckles WebLog: From Circus Whitey 2006-11-25 - Ruskin, Florida, United States - Black Diamond, Monroe Bros. Circus 1925 2006-11-20 - Ruskin, Florida, United States - Buckles WebLog: Ladies of the Steel Arena #1 Vol. 4 (From Jim Cole) Harriet Beatty 2006-11-18 - Ruskin, Florida, United States - Buckles WebLog: 14 Elephants at Cole Bros. Circus 1944 2006-11-12 - Ruskin, Florida, United States - Jenda Smaha Farewell! 2006-11-12 - Ruskin, Florida, United States - European Elephants #1 (Photos and comments from Filipe Von Gilsa) 2006-10-17 - Ruskin, Florida, United States - Olga Astley with elephant "Rosie" in the 1930"s (Buckles Woodcocks Weblog) 2006-10-07 - Ruskin, Florida, United States - Charlie Gray Commercial 2006-09-01 - Ruskin, Florida, United States - "Jumbo" circa 1870

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