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Performing Arts Photography Variety Arts Video Women

Vince Bruce – Trick Roper – A Tribute

Tribute Video for Vince Bruce.

Vince Bruce ©2019 by Dutch photographer Kees Tabak

At eight years old Vince Bruce met early Wild West cowboy star and music hall performer, Tex McLeod who lived down the street from him in England. Inspired then to be a rope twirling cowboy like his hero, Vince practiced rope tricks under the tutelage of his inventor father. By the age of twelve, he had a regular Friday night spot at a local holiday resort.

As a teenager in the traveling circuses of Europe and later in cabaret clubs and theatre festivals around the world, Vince developed his natural style as an entertainer with unparalleled ability as a western arts virtuoso.

Vince first came to the States in 1983 as the half-time act for the Harlem Globetrotters and that same year won every award at the first convention of the International Trick & Fancy Ropers Association.

In 1991 he starred in the Broadway hit “The Will Rogers’ Follies” where he created the role of “The Roper,” portraying Will Rogers on the silver screen of Hollywood. The show ran two and a half years and received seven Tony’s.

While in New York, Vince met his wife Annie Dubats, a singer prominent in Manhattan’s downtown art and music scene. When working together, Annie graces Vince’s act by singing a few of her own songs and some country classics while on horseback.

Vince’s show is unique. I mean, how many British Cowboys do you know? He looks like the quintessential cowboy — tall and slim with a lined, character face. He’s a blast of energy when he comes on stage swinging a lasso in a big circle that spins wildly over the heads of a surprised audience, while the little bits of “business” that he puts into his roping routines make whatever he’s doing irresistibly entertaining.

(Courtesy of Margo Feiden Gallery)

Here is Vince Bruce performing his act on the English TV Paul Daniels Show

Vince Bruce, born April 4, 1955, died September 24, 2011.

Here is a lovely obit from the UK paper The Telegraph

For more information visit his website here!

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A Tribute by A.J. Silver

There are very few people in history who have earned the title “ The Greatest”.
Vince Bruce the greatest western performer to ever live is one of them.
   Vince is also known as the Wizard of Whips and Ropes performed in the most prestigious entertainment venues around the world including Broadway,  Carnegie Hall and a regular performer at The Tiger Palast in Frankfurt, Germany.
  His western act including trick roping and whips but what set him apart was his unmatched skill level and artistry.
He was a true artist!
    Most roping acts were based on technical skills.
Rope spinners would perform their tricks with music playing in the background and often it was somewhat boring.
 Vince took the western act and showed the world how exciting it could be combining his skills with comedy and showmanship.
His act was perfectly timed to the music and the audiences knew they were watching a virtuoso.
Vince also included unicycle skills and performed the famous Bobby May trick in his act.
 The Bobby May trick involved throwing a lit match behind his back and catching it in his mouth followed by throwing a cigarette behind his back and catching it in his mouth and lighting it with the match, he would then cut the lit cigarette out of his mouth with his whip. This trick earned the respect from jugglers and circus legends and  It made him more than a western act, he was a variety superstar.
  Vince’s act had such a high skill level that unless you understood roping you could never fathom that he was performing so many risky feats that a mistake could happen any second. To perform an act at this level requires exceptional confidence and focus and countess hours of daily practice.
  When talking to variety artists who do not understand roping I call Vince the Francis Brunn of ropers. 
Just like there will never be a juggler who can be compared to Francis,  there will never be another roper who can be compared to Vince.
They are both legends who took their art form to another level with original technical skill and artistry.
They truly are kings of their disciplines and have inspired countless performers. 
I imagine every western performer alive today considers Vince Bruce their idol.
  Vince traveled the world performing in the most prestigious stage productions and circuses and then he created a unique rodeo act with his performing partner and wife Annie Dubats.
  Annie met Vince while he was starring in the Big Apple Circus in NYC.
Annie had a career as a singer and grew up working with horses.
They complimented each other and Annie made it possible for Vince to create the act he always dreamed of, spinning a big loop around two horses while standing on them and racing around the arena at a full gallop. 
  Annie and Vince also created an original horse catching/roping act that had all but disappeared from the rodeo.
Annie would sing on horseback, not an easy feat while Vince would perform Mexican style roping while seated and standing on his horse. Annie would then gallop past Vince’s horse and the timing had to be perfect as Vince would roll his loop out and catch Annie and her horse.
 This act would not have been possible without Annie. There is so much preparation that goes into training and maintaining an act like this.
  In the past, Vince could hop on a plane with his luggage but now there were two horses that had to be transported and cared for.
Annie made it possible for Vince to maintain his skill level by sharing the responsibility of exercising, training and caring for their two horses Cochise and Comanche.
Annie and Vince made a perfect team and to see them perform together with their horses was witnessing a lifelong dream come true.

We lost Vince to cancer in 2011.
   He had a great sense of humor and a big heart.
Vince had a huge amount of love for the world and he was generous with it.
He always gave encouragement to fellow ropers and would always offer help. It was hard not to love him back.
 I started my career as a rodeo trick rider and always thought trick roping was boring until the day I saw Vince perform.
My mind was blown! I couldn’t believe what I just saw. I was actually angry that I could not imagine how beautiful and exciting a western act could be. 
 I owe a great deal to Vince. It was because of him that I decided to create a roping act.
I always enjoy my talks with Annie who I consider almost like a sister.
Annie is one of the few people I know who understands the whole gamut of Show Business – Broadway, Circus, Stage productions, Rodeo, Wild West Shows. Horse Spectacles ………
 Annie saw the world with Vince and has such a vast knowledge of not only Show business but what went into creating and maintaining Vince’s act.
 There are very few days that go by that I don’t wonder how Vince was able to accomplish the high skill level and artistry of his act and  It truly boggles my mind.
He was Superhuman, peerless and he will always be unmatched – The Greatest.


Spinning a big loop around two horses while standing on them and racing around the arena at a full gallop. Colorado Springs Rodeo

Special THANKS goes out to Joan Henry Houghton (Mutts Gone Nuts), A.J. Silver, Margareta Dillinger (Tiger Palast) and Annie Dubats (Vince Bruce’s wife).

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Categories
Auction Circus Circus Memorabilia Clown Coney Island USA Exhibit Posters Potter & Potter Auction Sideshow Women

Circus • Sideshow • Oddities  – Potter & Potter Auction

  NOVEMBER 16, 2019 • 10:00 AM

Featuring the circus collection of Dave & Mary Jane Price, the November sale is slated to include nearly 1000 vintage circus posters, plus costumes, model circus trains, and other relics from bygone wonder-shows. The circus collectibles will be complemented by an array of unusual, uncommon, and unbelievable oddities, sideshow memorabilia, banners, photographs, taxidermy, and relics of the “believe it or not” variety. Highlights include Tom Thumb memorabilia, sideshow electric chairs, and props, and big, bold banners from the masters of the form.

Catalogs ship approximately three weeks before the auction. Previews will be held in our gallery on November 14—15, 10—5 pm.

~Here are a few amazing items from the entire collection being auctioned~

The first item is a side-show banner painted by Coney Island USA‘s own Marie Roberts.

Roberts, Marie. Ravi The Bendable Boy from Bombay. Sideshow Banner. Coney Island, 2004. The vibrant banner shows this contortionist bent inside a trunk, text below and above. Flown at the Coney Island Sideshow. 66 x 57”.

Mule-Face Woman. Sideshow Banner by Snap Wyatt. Tampa, FL, ca. the 1960s. Enormous double-length painted canvas sideshow banner. 240 x 108”. Signed “Snap Wyatt Studios/Rt. 3 Tampa Fla”.

Currier Lithograph of General Tom Thumb. Barnum’s Gallery of Wonders. New York: Nathaniel Currier, ca. 1849. Lithograph colored by hand, the central image after a daguerreotype by Plumbe. 14 x 10 ¼”. Margins trimmed, pale soiling around edges, short tears, and creases.

Buffalo Bill Cody Cabinet Card Photograph. New York: Stacy, ca. 1900. Cody is seen wearing his Stetson hat and embroidered buckskin jacket, with few patches of grey in his hair. Facsimile signature to verso as issued. 6 ½ x 4 ¼”. Few stains to verso, else fine.

San Antonio’s Siamese Twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. The Sensation of Vaudeville. Kansas City: Quigley Litho, ca. the 1930s. Color lithograph depicting the famous conjoined twins. 42 x 27 ¾”. Linen-backed. Expertly restored losses and tears in image and margins, rubs and abrasions.

Ripley, Robert. Wilber Plumhoff the Pain Proof Man / Believe It Or Not. N.p., ca. the 1940s. Color poster depicting the performer with nails, pins, and buttons pierced through his skin. 28 x 21”. Linen-backed. Scattered restored losses to edges and along folds. B.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Side Show. Erie Litho, the 1930s. Offset color lithograph poster depicting the circus’s sideshow cast, prominently depicting violin and piano playing conjoined twins, a giant with little people, and others in the background. 18 ½ x 28”. Linen-backed. Restored losses and over-coloring, mostly in margins and edges, some inpainting to tears in image. B.

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey. Francis Brunn. Greatest Juggler World Has Ever Known. The 1940s. Color lithograph portraying the performer juggling hoops while balancing balls on his fingertips and nose. 27 x 41”. Unmounted. Remnants of date-tail removal from bottom margin, folds, minimal edgewear. B.

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. Blacaman Hindu Animal Hypnotist. Erie Litho, ca. 1930s. Offset lithograph poster depicts the performer hypnotizing massive ferocious lions, lightning bolts radiating from the hypnotist’s eyes. 27 ½ x 41”. Linen-backed. Restored losses and tears in margins; a few repaired closed tears in image. B.

Forepaugh and Sells Brothers Circus. Madison Square Garden. Cincinnati: Strobridge Litho, 1898. One-sheet color lithograph poster depicting Madison Square Garden. 30 x 40”. Linen-backed. Margins trimmed a little unevenly, losses along vertical fold, repaired closed tears. B.

World of Mirth Shows. Dolly Jacobs. World’s Foremost Lady Trainer of Wild Animals. Erie Litho, ca. the 1940s. Offset color lithograph showing the female lion and tiger trainer brandishing a whip. 41 x 13 ¼”. Linen-backed. Marginal stains and creases scattered restoration along folds. B-.

Cole Bros. Circus. The Great Grimes. Erie Litho, 1930s. Offset lithograph poster depicts the high-wire equilibrist act in which two men on bicycle balance a woman standing on the shoulders of a man on a chair. 40 x 26”. Mounted to Kraft paper. Old folds. Bright copy. B+.

Cole Bros. Circus. Harold Barnes. Erie Litho, ca. 1935. Offset lithograph circus poster depicts the acrobat on the high wire above cheerleaders in circus sweaters with tennis rackets in hand. 27 x 18”. Mounted to Kraft paper. Scattered losses and tears in image and along folds, dated in ink upper left. C.

Cole Bros. Circus. Getting Ready for the Ring. Erie Litho, 1930s. Offset color lithograph poster shows a man in baggy suit tying the slippers of a beautiful woman of the circus, as a clown and acrobat watch from the tent. 27 x 18”. Mounted to Kraft paper. Old folds. B+.

Cole Bros. Circus. Allen King. Battling, Snarling, Roaring, Man-Eating Wild Animals. Erie Litho, ca. the 1930s. Color offset lithograph. 28 x 41”. Linen-backed. Restored losses and over-coloring in margins; restored small losses and inpainting along folds. B+.

Barnum and Bailey. Cleopatra. Cincinnati: Strobridge Litho., 1912. Intricate design includes eight vignettes, the centermost being portraits of the circus’ founders, P. T. Barnum and J. A. Bailey. “Cleopatra pageant” illustrated in three others. Ornate masthead. 39 5/8 x 30”. Faint tide marks stains in the lower margin. Linen-backed. B.

Al. G. Barnes—Sells Floto and John Robinson. The Human Fly Anna Merkel. Erie Litho, ca. 1938. Color offset lithograph depicts the performer in a feat of upside-down ceiling walking. Date-tail for performance in Decatur. 36 x 21”. Linen-backed. Nice copy; minimal touch-ups along central fold; small losses in margins and image expertly repaired. B+.

Achille Philion. The Marvelous Equilibrist and Originator. Buffalo: Courier, 1898. Color lithograph. 28 ½ x 42”. Older linen backing. Chipping and tears in margins, a few extending into image; restored losses in margins. B. Another version of the poster replaces “An Attraction Without Parallel” with the name of the circus Philion performed for, Adam Forepaugh and Sells Brothers.

Living Wonders! Unprecedented Novelties! American, ca. 1870. Circus sideshow broadside featuring woodcuts of a snake charmer, “The Mammoth Fat Girl” of Illinois, and “The Arab Giant” Col. Routh Goshen, and other living attractions. Matted to 25 x 13”. Minor foxing; very good.

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For more information and to bid go here!

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Categories
American Circus Juggling Photography Variety Arts

Happy Birthday – Francis Brunn – November 15

Francis Brunn – Studio Shots 

I photographed Francis in the studio and rehearsing on many occasions over a 10 year period and will eventually put together an album of my images. These are a few of them.

This was taken at the Showcase Studios where Francis rehearsed when in NY. 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY FRANCIS!

When the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus brought him to America in 1948, he became the first juggler ever to work the center ring as a solo headliner.

New York Times – Obit

Other Resources on Francis Brunn.

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Categories
Cabaret Circus Juggling Performing Arts Photography

Juggling Archives – New Series – FRANCIS BRUNN

I realized that one of the disciplines I have photographed extensively is juggling and jugglers.

I am starting this new series which I will run (every two weeks) until the wonderful JUGGLE THIS festival happens in June.

Here is a photograph I took of Francis Brunn practicing at Showcase Studios (which use to be on 8th Ave near 56th St.)

This was taken in 1980.

Francis Brunn practicing at Showcase Studios.

Francis would practice there with aerialist Philippe Petit on many days when they were both in town.

I visited them on many occasions and photographed their practicing sessions.

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JUGGLE THIS is happening this year from June 6th thru the 8th. Go HERE  for more information.

Categories
Clown Dance Mime Photography Variety Arts

George Carl – Physical Comedian

 

When I was living in Tribeca during the 1970’s I had a nice sized loft that doubled as my studio.

Once in a while I had a guest over and I requested that we do a ‘studio session’ with them.

One of my most memorable times was with George Carl. He came to visit with Francis Brunn.

George didn’t have his own show hat with him so we borrowed Natalie Enterline’s hat for the shot.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with George Carl’s physical antics you should check out his videos.

There are many on You Tube.

The one I especially like was taken in his back yard in the 1950’s at the early part of his career.

His was a genius!