Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Clyde Beatty

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Clyde Beatty (born June 10, 1903 in Bainbridge, Ohio, United States; died July 19, 1965) joined the circus as a cage cleaner as a teen and became famous as a lion tamer and animal trainer. He also was a circus impresario who owned his own show that later merged with the Cole Bros. Circus to form the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus.

Beatty became famous for his "fighting act", in which he entered the cage with wild animals with a whip and a pistol strapped to his side. The act was designed to showcase his courage and mastery of the wild beasts, which included lions, tigers, cougars, 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 40 lions and tigers of both sexes.There is some indication that Beatty was the first lion tamer to use a chair in his act.[1]

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. He is one of the caricatures at Sardi's restaurant in New York City created by Alex Gard which is now part of the Billy Rose Theatre Collection at the New York Public Library.

In the 1997 film Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, the lion tamer Dave Hoover cites Beatty as a major influence on his career. The director Errol Morris uses several clips from Beatty's films during his interviews with Hoover.

Clyde Beatty died of cancer in 1965 at the age of 62 in Ventura, California and was interred in the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood Hills