Sunday, July 31, 2011

John Robinson

The legendary John Robinson Circus passed through three generations of John Robinson names. While Bob Parkinson's book the Directory of American Circuses refers to them as John Robinson I, II, and III, they were defined in legal documents as John Robinson, John F. Robinson and John G. Robinson.

A lot of people don't understand the difference in ownership and the slight change in titles so many times when the discussion of John Robinson Circus comes up, much of this gets intermingled. While studying the cottage cages in detail, it has become very difficult at times to sort out what one person was talking about.

The John Robinson 10 Big Shows closed forever following the 1911 season. Much of the show was leased, sold, or rotted away over the next five years until Jerry Mugivan made an offer to buy the show in 1916.

The John Robinson Circus ( notice the title change ) now operated by Mugivan and Bowers, eventually became part of the American Circus Corporation. When John Ringling went out on a limb to buy the ACC in 1929, he acquired the John Robinson Circus title. The John Robinson Circus title has been a legal holding of the Ringling show ever since and is now part of the Feld Organization.

1 comment:

Whitey said...

Mugivan and associates operated under the Van Amburg (sic) title starting in 1908; in 1911 they added a second show, the former Dode Fisk outfit and billed it as Great Sanger, sometimes Sanger Bros.

In 1913 they renamed this second show Famous Robinson or Robinson's Famous after buying that title from Danny Robinson.

Then in 1916 this show was renamed yet again as John Robinson after the John Robinson show was purchased.

The 1916 John Robinson show was not same show as the old John Robinson family-owned show; it merely carried the John Robinson title. Little of the original family-owned show equipment was useable and much of that was sold to old Ben Wallace who peddled what he could out of Peru.

For the 1917 season Mugivan and associates' two shows were combined under the John Robinson title. Sometimes the title had an apostrophe as John Robinson's Circus.

All very confusing but these are the basics. The history of the Robinson show was played to the hilt, even giving special treatment to members of the public who had seen the "same show" fifty or so years earlier.