Clyde Beatty

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Clyde Raymond Beatty

Birthdate: (62)
Birthplace: Bainbridge, Ross County, Ohio, United States
Death: July 19, 1965 (62) (cancer)
Immediate Family:

Son of James Tong and Margaret Tong (Beatty)
Husband of Harriet Beatty and <private> Beatty (Abel)
Ex-husband of Beatrice Ernestine Jones Beatty
Father of Joyce Lee Beatty and <private> Beatty
Brother of Georgie Beatty; Ruth Mann; <private> Beatty; <private> Beatty; Clifford Beatty and 3 others

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Clyde Beatty

Clyde Beatty (June 10, 1903 - July 19, 1965) joined the circus as a cage cleaner as a teen and became famous as a lion tamer and animal trainer. He also became a circus impresario who owned his own show that later merged with the Cole Bros. Circus to form the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus.


Beatty became famous for his "fighting act," in which he entered the cage with wild animals with a whip and a pistol strapped to his side. The act was designed to showcase his courage and mastery of the wild beasts, which included lions, tigers, cougars, and hyenas, sometimes brought together all at once in a single cage in a potentially lethal combination. At the height of his fame, the act featured as many as 40 lions and tigers of both sexes.

There have been suggestions that Beatty was the first lion tamer to use a chair in his act, but in an autobiographical book Beatty himself disclaimed the credit: "It was in use when I was a cage boy and had been used long before."

Beatty's fame was such that he appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s and on television until the 1960s. He was also the star of his own syndicated radio series, The Clyde Beatty Show, from 1950 to 1952. The weekly programs featured adventures loosely based on his real-life exploits. However, the stories were no doubt more fictitious than real, and Beatty actually appeared in name only. In fact, Vic Perrin, not identified as such to the radio audience, impersonated him on the show. His "fighting act" made him the paradigm of a lion tamer for more than a generation. Beatty was once mauled by a lion named Nero. The tamer was in the hospital for ten weeks as a result of the attack. However, he remained undaunted and actually faced Nero down in a cage for the film The Big Cage. He is one of the caricatures at Sardi's restaurant in New York City created by Alex Gard which is now part of the Billy Rose Theatre Collection at the New York Public Library.

Beatty married Harriett Evans (name often printed as "Harriet"), a young dancer, apparently from Russia. She had joined the circus to sell candy, an act of desperation when she was out of work during the early years of the Great Depression, probably late 1929. After two years she had learned some riding and aerial acts, but without making much professional headway. She and Beatty became involved in 1931 and married on September 16, 1933. The marriage lasted until her death in 1950 in Kosciusko, Mississippi, reportedly from a heart attack. It seems to have been based on a great deal of team spirit, and after a year or so she insisted on being trained as an animal tamer herself, an extremely unusual thing for a woman in those days. Beatty let her have an act in 1935 and she did very well, proving to be popular with the public and the press.

In the 1997 film Fast, Cheap & Out of Control, lion tamer Dave Hoover cites Beatty as a major influence on his career. Director Errol Morris uses several clips from Beatty's films during his interviews with Hoover.

Clyde Beatty was born in Bainbridge, Ohio, United States, and died of cancer in 1965 at age 62 in Ventura, California, and was interred in the Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.


The Big Cage (co-author Edward Anthony 1933)


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Clyde Beatty's Timeline

June 10, 1903
Bainbridge, Ross County, Ohio, United States
Age 23
July 19, 1965
Age 62
July 19, 1965
Age 62