Dell O'Dell loved the stage as much as she dominated it—no small feat for any magician, much less a “funsational femagician,” as she called herself.

Dell O'Dell's Trailblazing Magic Show Cast a Spell on Early Television Audiences

Rare footage of the woman magician's act captures her magnetic stage presence and range of tricks

Helen Gibson once remarked, “I certainly do get angry when I hear someone say, ‘I bet she didn’t do that herself.’”

Hollywood's First Professional Stuntwoman Jumped From Planes and Swung Onto Trains

Dubbed "the most daring actress in pictures," Helen Gibson rose to fame in the 1910s

Bradbury's encounter with Mr. Electrico “really started him on his quest to become a writer, which was essentially a quest to become immortal,” says Jason Aukerman.

The Sideshow Magician Who Inspired Ray Bradbury—Then Vanished

Experts have been unable to verify the existence of Mr. Electrico, whose 1932 electric chair act supposedly affirmed the young author's interest in writing

Tiger tamer Alexander Lacey gets his tigers on their feet in one of the final performances of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

The 'Greatest Show on Earth' Is Coming Back—Without Circus Animals

After seemingly closing for good five years ago, Ringing Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will launch a new, more modern show in 2023

Elephants Kelly Ann and Mable are eligible to move to the White Oak Conservation Center north of Jacksonville, Florida.

Retired Circus Elephants to Move to 2,500-Acre Wildlife Refuge Next Year

Since 2016, about 30 elephants have lived in a 200-acre enclosure managed by Ringling Bros. circus

A German Circus Uses Stunning Holograms Instead of Live Animal Performers

Circus Roncalli is preserving the tradition of animal acts while eliminating concerns of animal cruelty

The134-year-old circus advertisement was crafted using lithograph, a material meant to degrade over time. After uncovering it in the Corral Bar and Riverside Grill, the family who owns the establishment restored and encased in glass.

Huge 19th Century Circus Poster Found in Walls of Wisconsin Bar

It advertised an 1885 performance by the Great Anglo-American Circus

The iconic Barnum's Animals crackers are getting a redesign, thanks to PETA.

After 116 Years, Animal Crackers Have Been Freed From Their Circus Cages

A new redesign of the iconic treats shows animals walking across a savanna

The Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus suffered one of the worst train wrecks in history in 1918, with more than 100 people injured and 86 killed.

The Hammond Train Wreck of 1918 Killed Scores of Circus Performers

One hundred years ago, a horrific railway disaster decimated the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus—but the show still went on

Jozsef and Merrylu Richter perform at the 42nd International Circus Festival in Monte Carlo last weekend.

After Claims of Animal Cruelty, Can the Circus Survive?

At the International Circus Festival in Monte Carlo, an unlikely figure is leading the charge to transform the circus for the 21st century

250,000 Circus Items Donated to Illinois State University

The donation includes clown props, photos, posters and costumes

Hugh Jackman in "The Greatest Showman."

P.T. Barnum Isn't the Hero the 'Greatest Showman' Wants You to Think

His path to fame and notoriety began by exploiting an enslaved woman, in life and in death, as entertainment for the masses

The Cardiff Giant, posed with a branch tastefully obscuring his genitals.

The Cardiff Giant Was Just a Big Hoax

Even though it didn't really look much like a petrified person, spectacle-seekers flocked to view it

Calder, c. 1931

How Alexander Calder Became America's Most Beloved Sculptor

In an exclusive excerpt from his new book, Calder: The Conquest of Time, Jed Perl reveals a hidden side of the artist

The Juggling Genius of Paul Cinquevalli

Remembering a showman who gave his life to his craft


Feedback from our readers

Lining up at the Big Top for the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Step Right Up to the Big Top Circus Tent at the 50th Annual Folklife Festival

The day the circus rolled into Washington, D.C., and other tales from the Smithsonian’s hot summer party on the National Mall

Elizabeth Streb’s troupe is part of a new wave of circus performers. “The drama is in danger,” says Streb. “I’m trying to make people wonder, What’s going to happen next?”

Step Right Up! See the Reinvention of the Great American Circus!

As Ringling Bros. packs up its tent for good, all sorts of newfangled spectacles have sprung up to take its place

Trained and created for UniverSoul Circus in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Pizza Posse marries acrobatics to slap stick comedy.

Two Circus Pros Juggle History and Race to Springboard Black Entertainers

Cedric Walker and Veronica Blair share a common fascination for the history of African-American circus

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