Clyde Beatty Biography

Birthday: 1903-06-10
Place of Birth: Bainbridge, Ross County
Height: 5' 5½" (1.66 m)
Wiki Biography: By: Jon C. Hopwood Mini Biography Clyde Raymond Beatty was born to Margaret Beatty on June 10, 1903, in Bainbridge, Ross County, OH, the eldest of nine children. For most of these years Margaret was a single parent, and young Clyde took every part-time job in town he could find to help his mother and siblings. He graduated from nearby Chillicothe High School, but had already succumbed to the world of the circus. On August 16, 1921, at dawn, he and Howard Smith clambered into a boxcar on the DT&I Railroad, bound for Washington Court House, OH, and joined the Howes Great London and Van Amburgh's Wild Animal Circus. His first and certainly influential boss was the legendary wild animal trainer Louis Roth. Next, he came under the tutelage of another great trainer, John "Chubby" Guilfoyle. By 1923 Clyde was working small mixed groups of big cats, hyenas and bears to start 42 uninterrupted seasons in the steel arena. He was strictly a circus man, but has been incorrectly described as a big-game hunter. In 1925, on the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, trainer Pete Taylor suffered a physical collapse, and young Clyde took over the big mixed lion-and-tiger act of 25 animals that became the signature of his career. He quickly came to the attention of John Ringling North, who owned Hagenbeck-Wallace, and he brought Beatty to the big Ringling show opening at New York's Madison Square Garden, and then on to Boston Garden for the tremendous publicity send-off for the seasons of 1931-1934. However, in 1932 Clyde was attacked by a lion named Nero and developed what the press called "jungle fever" and nearly died. John Ringling held the 1933 opening of the Garden runs so Clyde could heal up and practice the act before re-joining. That year he and Edward Anthony co-wrote his first book, "The Big Cage", to which Carl Laemmle of Universal Pictures bought the rights. The film, The Big Cage (1933), starred Beatty and co-starred a young Mickey Rooney, and Clyde's fame was assured. In the winter of 1934 Beatty left all Ringling interests over a dispute with those who had deposed John Ringling. He formed the Cole Bros. and Clyde Beatty Circus in 1935, and for the rest of his career his name appeared on every circus title on which he worked. He married Harriett Evans in 1933, who already had a small daughter. They remained on the Cole-Beatty title until it folded in 1938. In 1939 they opened the Clyde Beatty Jungle Zoo in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Zoning forced them to close in 1945, though, when he took out the Clyde Beatty Circus as a truck show. In partnership with Arthur M. Concello, a peak season was realized in 1946. In 1947 his own circus was on rails and so remained until the tragic circus season of 1956, when he went bankrupt. In 1950 Harriett Beatty died of heart disease in their private railroad car. In 1951 Beatty married Jane Lorriane Abel, of San Antonio. They had one son, Clyde Jr., born in 1952. The 1956 show reorganized and continued the season. In 1957 new owners changed to a truck operation, and in 1959 the show was re-titled "Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros." Beatty had the leading personal contract in the circus world, and kept his name alive with two more books, and radio and television appearances. In 1964 he became ill and had surgery in Billings Hospital, in Chicago, where cancer was discovered. He did not complete the season. To the surprise of all, he returned to open in 1965, but became too weak to work the animals and returned home to Ventura, CA, where he died on July 19. No other circus performer was so recognized by the public, and to this day, many years after his death, his name is still synonymous with circuses and wild-animal shows.

Clyde BeattyPhotos & Pictures


Movies Title Appeared As Year Genre
The Lost Jungle 1934 Adventure, Sci Fi
Darkest Africa 1936 Action, Adventure, Romance
Africa Screams 1949 0
Perils of the Jungle 1953 Adventure, Drama