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Lion and Gladiator Tableau

Mugivan and Bowers’ Lion and Gladiator Tableau

(1) In a 1921 interview in the Billboard, Jerry Mugivan stated that he and Bert Bowers had purchased three new Tableaus during the winter of 1910/1911. One of those was the Lion and Gladiator.

Lion and Gladiator Tableau ( 1912 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 18 – photo # 26B – Tinney’s Band – Howe’s Great London Shows – Lion and Gladiator tab in back – L.A. Sadler photo )

(2) What wagon historians call the Lion and Gladiator wagon was built for Mugivan and Bowers by Sullivan and Eagle of Peru, Indiana.

The exact locations by years are somewhat uncertain but we do know it was found on the Howe’s Great London Shows from 1912 through 1914. By 1916, the wagon was moved over to the newly formed Mugivan and Bowers’ owned John Robinson Circus. Mugivan and Bowers had bought the John Robinson’s 10 Big Shows from the Robinson family early in the year of 1916. All they really wanted was the show title so they sold the show equipment immediately.

Lion and Gladiator Tableau( 1922 – Conover Set # 800 – photo # 305 – Don Smith photo )

This wagon remained on the John Robinson Circus at least through the 1922 season. Bill Woodcock suspects the wagon remained in Peru quarters in 1923. He says that when he left Peru in the Spring of 1923 with the John Robinson show that he noted the Gladiator & Lion wagon in the wagon sheds still unpainted. At the time, the Sells-Floto canvas outfit that did not go with that show to the Chicago Coliseum, indoor opening stand, was at Peru about ready to roll. He figures that if the wagon was to go with the show that it would have been repainted and standing ready with the other Sells-Floto equipment. It was placed on the Sells-Floto Circus for the 1924 and 1925 seasons. Upon elimination of street parades by Sells-Floto for the 1926 and succeeding seasons the wagon was stored at Peru until it was fixed up again to go in the 1934 Hagenbeck-Wallace parade.

Lion and Gladiator Tableau( 1934 – Conover Set # 302 – photo # 231 – Kenneth Whipple collection ))

From 1935 until 1944 it was stored at Peru. this was one of several wagons that were saved from the massive wagon burnings of 1941. They were kept in the wagon sheds at the Peru winter quarters until April of 1944 when they were loaded on system flatcars for the trip down to the Sarasota winter quarters of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  

Lion and Gladiator Tableau( 1944 – Joseph Bradbury Album  # 18 – photo # 56C – Peru – April 4, 1944 – Lion and Gladiator, Carl Hagenbeck Lion Tab, SF Elephant tab )

After it’s arrival at the Sarasota winter quarters, the wagon was re-painted white with gold carvings, equipped with steel gears, dual pneumatics, and went out with Ringling-Barnum in 1945 for spec and the war bond parade in New York.

Lion and Gladiator tableau( 1945 on RBBB – Richard J. Reynolds III photo )

After sitting idle in the Ringling winter quarters in Sarasota for a few years, the newly formed Museum of the American Circus at the John and Mable Ringling estates was given this wagon on loan. By 1951, the wagon had been re-fitted with wooden wheels again.

Lion and Gladiator Tableau  ( 1951 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 15 – photo # 69A – Museum of American Circus in Sarasota, FL – Feb. 1951 – Joseph Bradbury photo )

While on loan to the Museum of the American Circus, the wagon was returned to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus around 1956 for a couple years. When the decision to close the Sarasota winter quarters came about, this wagon was returned on loan to the Museum of the American Circus around 1958. The wagon was once again repainted red with gold carvings but it lacks proof to know if that happened while back at the Sarasota winter quarters or if that happened once it was back at the Museum. The wagon was a museum feature for twenty three years, reverting back to direct Ringling control in a 1979 agreement. Until it was brought to Baraboo, the Lion and Gladiator Tableau was stored in a Bradenton, Florida warehouse. In 1984, the wagon was placed on loan to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin via an agreement reached with Kenneth Feld, owner of Ringling Bros, and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Lion and Gladiator Tableau.( 2010 at Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin – Bob Cline photo )

In 2013, the newly created Ellenton, Florida winter quarters of Feld Entertainment was ready to bring their wagons under their roof. The wagons were transported by truck to their new Florida home where they now reside in the privacy of the Feld Entertainment complex.

(1) The Lion and Gladiator Tableau, Bandwagon, March / April 1985, page 5

(2) Excerpts from the Circus Wagon History File, Bandwagon, Sept. / Oct. 1963, pp. 17-19.

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