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Beautiful Photos of the Greatest Show on Earth by C.W. Cushman

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the so-called Greatest Show on Earth, was started in 1919 when the circus created by James Anthony Bailey and P. T. Barnum was merged with the Ringling Brothers Circus. The Ringling brothers had actually purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1907, but ran the circuses separately until the merger. These photographs were taken by C.W. Cushman in the late 1940s.

Greatest Show on Earth

Rose Behee and Brother-in-Law in 1946. Charles Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

 

Greatest Show on Earth

Two young German girls in head on head balancing act in 1950. Charles Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

 

Greatest Show on Earth

Francis Brown and his sister – a juggling act at Ringling Circus, 1949. Charles Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

 

Greatest Show on Earth

Ringling Circus Elephant and Mademoiselle Unus in 1949. Charles Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

 

Greatest Show on Earth

Mrs Harold Alzana, 1950. Charles Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

 

Greatest Show on Earth

Flying Trapeze star Antoinette Concello, 1949. Charles Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

 

Greatest Show on Earth

Clown Felix Adler, 1947. Charles Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives.

 

Greatest Show on Earth

Baton wielder takes time out for a break, 1949. Charles Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives.

 

Greatest Show on Earth

Alzana in costume for Gold Rush tableau, 1949. Charles Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives.

 

Greatest Show on Earth

All five Alzanas Highwire performers at RIngling Circus, 1949. Charles Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives.

 

Greatest Show on Earth

A ‘circus beauty’ in pale lavender cap, coat and shorts, 1946. Charles Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives.

 

Greatest Show on Earth

‘A charming aerialist’, Ringling Circus in 1949. Charles Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives.

 

Greatest Show on Earth

Trick bicycling act at Ringling Circus. Charles Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives.

 

Greatest Show on Earth

Rose Behee of the Flying Behees, 1946. Charles Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives.