On Monday night I watched the wonderful Bindlestiff Open Stage Quarantine edition and was pleased to see the “Ask Hovey” segment (featuring circus historian/teacher/performer Hovey Burgess) where he talked about ‘Midgets’ and mentioned the Vaudevisuals Press book “Rose’s Royal Midgets and Other Little People of Vaudeville“. Here is the video excerpt from the show.
~ The Grand Gypsy ~
A Memoir by Ottavio Canestrelli with Ottavio Gesmundo
The Grand Gypsy is a memoir of life in the circus, filled with daring feats and tragic mishaps. It is the true story of a man who experienced historical events as he toured with his family through five continents and countless nations. Among these events are his harrowing experience fighting in World War I against the German Army in Italy, and the excavation of the Sphinx in Egypt.
Replete with over 150 rare, historic photographs, The Grand Gypsy is a chronicle of a circus dynasty from the late nineteenth century in Europe to the new millennium in the United States of America. Included are significant images that document an extensive tour through such exotic locations as Burma, Sumatra, New Guinea, Syria, and Mesopotamia during the early twentieth century, and numerous portraits and captured performances in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Hollywood, Las Vegas, and Sarasota, Florida.
“The Grand Gypsy is indeed fascinating and highly enjoyable reading, not only for anyone interested in circus history but also for any curious or adventurous mind.”
Dominique Jando – Editor, Circopedia.org
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“The story of Ottavio Canestrelli is unique and this book, rich with history and filled with humor, is fresh and memorable.” – “readers will definitely be interested in his remarkable story.”
The Booklife Prize by Publisher’s Weekly
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“The story of his travels, his acts and those of his talented family will enthrall any reader, and this is a most well-written and structured book”
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“The roster of names dropped along the way, along with an expansive collection of photographs from every period covered in the book, should provide a good deal of pleasure”.
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“The pictures in the book are astonishing. With its pictures and rich anecdotes, this is a treasure of a book.”
Judge, 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
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Jeff Gordon was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA), in 1954. A former All-American Springboard Champion diver, he graduated from Clown College in 1979 and spent the following year somersaulting over elephants at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. In 1981, he joined the Big Apple Circus, where he worked on the ring crew. He also appeared as a plant in the audience for the Big Apple Circus’s trio of clowns, Carlo Pellegrini (Carlo), Michael Christensen (Mr. Stubbs), and Barry Lubin (Grandma).
Jeff’s first experience as a clown had come as part of the Ringling show, but he felt much more comfortable in the intimate, one-ring European format of the Big Apple Circus. So, in 1983, he became a full-fledged member of the Big Apple Circus’s Clown Alley as “Gordoon,” a newly created clown persona. Mr. Stubbs, Gordoon, and Grandma would be, for the following five years, the iconic clown trio of the Big Apple Circus.
In 1989, in a quixotic attempt to run away from the circus and join a home, Jeff found himself on Broadway, playing The Dean in Bill Irwin’s Largely New York, a role he subsequently played on tour. By 1991-92, however, he was back at the Big Apple Circus, performing in Greetings from Coney Island and, 1992-93, Going Places, a show in which he was the lead character.
Jeff subsequently performed in Asia, appeared with Bill Irwin in the Seattle Rep’s production of Molière’s Scapin, and was for several years “Le Clown Gordoon” at the French Pavillion at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center. He then moved to San Francisco, where he became involved with the successful Teatro ZinZanni. In 2000-01, Gordoon was again back at the Big Apple Circus, where he starred inClown Around Town with Tom Dougherty.
Jeff later participated in the Tianjin International Comedy Festival in China (2001) and toured with Circus Vidbel in 2004. He has worked extensively in Asia and the United States, and In 2007-2008, he was featured with Zany Umbrella Circus in Amman, at the Jordan’s Children Museum. In addition, Jeff has done many Artist-in-Residencies in the Pittsburgh area, where he now lives.
Thanks to Circopedia for this Bio of Jeff Gordon. A great resource for all things CIRCUS!
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