Gee Gee Engesser

From the list of elephant persons Family: Engesser

Gee Gee Engesser
Profession circus animal trainer
Personal details
Born 1926-08-06 St. Peter, Minnesota in United States
Dead 2008-07-15 Seffner, Hillsborough County, Florida in United States
Country United States

Title owner 1979-1989
Location at Gee Gee Engessers elephants in United States

Title animal trainer 1929-1936
Location at Schell Brothers Circus in United States

Biography details

Georgedda Zellmar Engesser , circus animal trainer in United States

Born 1926-08-06 in United States dead 2008-07-15 in United States , daughter of director George Engesser and director Vates Lola Swenson Engesser .

Born Georgedda Zellmar Engesser was born on August 6, 1926 in St. Peter, Minnesota, the middle daughter of George Edward Engesser and Vates Lola Swenson, she was literally raised in the circus.

Records about Gee Gee Engesser from William "Buckles" Woodcocks Blog at
Gee Gee Engesser, in a waist-cinching strapless leotard and fur-trimmed boots, skipped around stage with the gait of a sprite and the body of a bombshell.

Her fleet of Alaskan huskies, dogs sometimes vicious and combative with each other, willingly obeyed her commands.

They walked on tightropes. They danced on their hind legs, mimicking her grapevine moves. They leapt over Ms. Engesser as she rotated wildly on an upright merry-go-round.

To close the act, she bounded to center stage, arms outstretched, platinum hair tumbling, chest heaving, invigorated.

Ms. Engesser, a circus icon, died Monday after battling congestive Heart failure. She was 81.

She was born into the circus. Her parents were vaudeville performers who owned traveling theater shows.

At age 4, Ms. Engesser was photographed in a feather dress and ballet shoes, lifted snugly skyward in the Trunk of an elephant. She learned to perform aerial acts, hanging from swinging ladders.

At 18, she joined the Cole Bros. Circus. For her signature act, she balanced atop two horses hitched in a line of 16. She rode standing.

"They went hellbent for leather around that track," said Buckles Woodcock, a circus historian who worked with Ms. Engesser for years. "She was terrific."

She was nicknamed the "blond bombshell of the circus world." She appeared on the cover of This Week magazine. She booked spots on television shows including What's My Line? and You Asked for It.

She married twice over the years and had one son, Bill Powell Jr. — but he was hardly the only child.

She lived with the pets on 15 acres in Ruskin zoned to allow large animals for business, her family said. Ms. Engesser owned cougars, leopards, bears, lions, tigers, draft horses, miniature horses, donkeys, ducks and geese.

"Her philosophy was that humans and animals can coexist in an entertainment environment," her son said. "She lived, breathed, slept the animals, 24 hours a day."

She owned elephants. She bottle fed one, also named Gee Gee, raising her for 22 years.

Gee Gee the elephant roamed free. She often came to the window during family breakfast, stuck in her Trunk and made chirping sounds. Ms. Engesser tossed out bananas or apples and told her to shoo.

"She would be like a 7,000-pound dog," her son said. When it came to the animals, she was stern. She made it clear that, if there was a money crunch, the animals would eat first. When Powell came home from school, he started a laundry list of chores — brush the Arctic wolves, wash or feed the elephants.

When animals got sick, Ms. Engesser curled up and slept beside them. When Gee Gee the elephant developed terminal liver problems, Ms. Engesser had an A-frame swing with a 5-ton cargo hoist built so Gee Gee could stand for one last year of life.

"I remember when she lost a dog, I thought, what a moral blow," Woodcock said. "Everybody gathered around her. They must have mourned over that dog for several days. Just imagine when her pet elephant was sick and died."

She performed into the 1980s, when she stopped to work behind the scenes with circuses. In 2007, the Ringling Museum inducted her as a circus celebrity.

As she aged, Powell asked her to move near him to an equestrian community in Seffner. She agreed only because there was room for her two miniature ponies, Blue and Teddy.

Last year, she went to Las Vegas with her son. They took in a Ringling Bros. performance. At one point, Powell glanced over at his mother. She was crying. What was wrong? She was emotional, she explained. She couldnt help it.

This was her life.

Circus animals had special hold on her, by Stephanie Hayes, Times Staff Writer. Published Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gee Gee Engesser s ancestral Ahnentafel:


Gee Gee Engesser
Born: 1926-08-06

George Engesser

Born: 1888-10-07

Paternal Grandfather:
John Engesser

Born: 1862-04-12
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Paternal Grandmother:

Born: ?
Paternal Great-grandfather::
Paternal Great-grandmother:

Vates Swenson

Born: 1896-05-03

Maternal Grandfather:

Maternal Great-grandfather:
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Maternal Grandmother:

Maternal Great-grandfather:
Maternal Great-grandmother:

Reference list


Koehl, Dan, (2024). animal trainer Georgedda Zellmar Engesser in United States. Elephant Encyclopedia, available online retrieved 2 March 2024 at (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:

Selected publications

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Categories animal trainer | circus | Gee Gee Engesser | Engesser family | Born 1926 | Dead 2008 | People from United States

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