Circuses are traditionally wholesome and family-friendly, but they have a dark and dirty past, according to researcher Allene Hatch.
Hatch, whos deceased husband along with Henry Ringling North penned the book The Circus Kings: A Ringling Family History, says back in the day, the Ringlings were involved in serious circus wars.
In the late 1800s, when the brothers founded their circus, Hatch says rival big top companies were like the mafia, running their territories and taking out anyone who dared trespass.
Hatch says, It was hair-raising what the Ringlings had to go through. There was a lot of wheeling and dealing and rivalry.
The circuses engaged in ruthless signage wars, in which rival companies removed any advertisements for other circuses to keep them from getting audiences.
Theyd even put up posters that called the Ringling Bros. cheap crooks to scare people off.
The Ringling circus was no victim though, fighting back with their own dirty dealings and even threatening to scalp their rivals.
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