Clyde Beatty

Clyde Beatty

Actor, Writer

Born June 10, 1903 in Bainbridge, Ross County, Ohio, USA

Clyde Beatty, who was born on June 10, 1903 in Bainbridge, Ohio, was a big game hunter who became famous as a lion tamer and animal trainer. He was the first lion tamer to be featured in a circus. Eventually, he became a circus impresario who owned his own show. Beatty became famous for his "fighting act," in which he entered the cage with wild animals armed only with a bull-whip and a pistol strapped to his hip. The act was designed to showcase the five & a half-foot tall Beatty's courage and mastery of the wild beasts, which included lions, tigers, pumas, and hyenas, sometimes brought together all at once in a single cage in a potentially lethal combination. At the height of his fame, the act featured Beatty solo, in a cage confronting 40 snarling, roaring and caterwauling lions and tigers of both sexes. Such was Beatty's fame that he appeared in films from the 1930s through the 1950s and on television until the 1960s. His "fighting act" made him the paradigm of a lion tamer for more than a generation. Begining in the 1930s, he owned outright or allowed different circuses for which he performed to bear his name. His own circus converted from a railroad to a truck operation in 1956 (think of the ultimate scene from Cecil B. DeMille's Academy Award-winning _The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)_ for one reason why), and in 1958, added "Cole Bros." to its name to create the "Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus." Still in existence, and rivaled only by Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey Circus in North America, it bills itself as "The World's Largest Circus Under The Big Top." In 2004, the circus dropped "Clyde Beatty" from its name after it terminated its elephant act. This brought an end to an era that Beatty's name epitomized in which circuses featured wild animals from foreign climes. The era had lasted for well over two centuries in North America, since Captain Jacob Crowninshield exhibited his two-year old Indian pachyderm in New York, at the corner of Beaver Street and Broadway on April 23, 1796. Clyde Beatty, King of the Lion Tamers, died of cancer in Ventura, California on July 19, 1965, just before the beginnings of the political correctness movement that assigned his once-illustrious name to obscurity. He was 62 years old. The plaque at his grave at Forestlawn Hollywood Hills Cemetary in Los Angeles, California features, fittingly, a lion.


  • 1962
  • 1954
  • 1953
  • 1949
  • 1934


  • Charles Barton

    Charles Barton

  • Lou Costello

    Lou Costello

  • Frank Buck

    Frank Buck

  • Bud Abbott

    Bud Abbott

  • Mickey Spillane

    Mickey Spillane

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    Paul Fix

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  • Pat O'Brien

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