Clyde Beatty (born June 10, 1903 in Bainbridge, Ohio, USA; died July 19, 1965) was a big game hunter who became famous as a lion tamer and animal trainer and founder of the Clyde Beatty 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 40 lions and tigers of both sexes. There is some indication that Beatty was the first lion tamer to use a chair in his act.
Such was Beatty´s fame that he appeared in films from the 1930s through the 1950s and on television until the 1960s. His "fighting act" made him the paradigm of a lion tamer for more than a generation. 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.
In one of his most famous episodes, Clyde Beatty was attacked by one of his tigresses and saved by one of his lions, an episode that was reported internationally.
In the 1997 film Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, the lion tamer Dave Hoover cites Beatty as a major influence on his career. The director Errol Morris uses several clips from Beatty´s films during his interviews with Hoover.
Clyde Beatty died of cancer in 1965 at the age of 62 in Ventura, California and was interred in the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood Hills.
"Mr. Beatty received from the Cole Show in 1938 in lieu of backwages "Mary", "Sidney" and "Anna May""
Mary, Anna May, and Sidney became Clyde Beatty´s property during the winter of 1938-39. Previous to this they were owned by the Cole Bros. Circus and came to that show in the series of purchases that transferred the elephants from the Hall farm to the Cole Show for the 1935 season. Mary and Sidney had arrived at the Hall farm in Lancaster, Mo., in a shipment of eight that entered port on the Pacific Coast in 1923. Hall had purchased Anna May and four others from Louis Ruhe in 1925. Mary died in 1950 before the Beatty Show left El Monte quarters for the opening stand of the Clyde Beatty Circus, the Clyde Beatty-season. Ann May has been with the Cole Bros. Circus, and the Sells & Grey Circus since 1944. Sidney followed the same route except that she continued with Beatty-Cole rather than making the Sells & Grey route in recent years.
Chang Reynolds. Bandwagon, Vol. 13, No. 3 (May-Jun), 1969, pp. 10-19.