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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 569

updated
Saturday, 9 August 2008

FOOTLIGHT NOTES
images of theatre and other popular entertainment
1850s-1920s

Little Mollie Brown
carte de visite photograph of Little Mollie Brown (fl. 1870s/1880s), American equestrienne
'The only Female Somersault Rider in the World'

'And Little Mollie Brown! . . . after her performance, she went around through the audience and sold her pictures . . .'
(Mrs Edith Fay Cartner, at the age of 82 in 1944
reminiscing about her visit when she was 11 to Montgomery Queen's circus,
Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California, 11 June 1944, editorial and features section, p. 1e,
courtesy of NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

(photo: Watkins, San Francisco, circa 1874)

'THE BIG SHOW.
'Montgomery Queen's Great World's Fair Coming to Oakland - Thursday and Friday next, Day and Evening.
'The gigantic zoological and equestrian exhibition will be in Oakland this week, to perform on the afternoons and evenings of Thursday and Friday. The menagerie and circus is said to be one of the most extensive concerns traveling. We do not believe there is a man, woman or child in this city who has not read or heard of the great show. It is a newly organized, gorgeously equipped and most brilliant equestrian company, and spoken of by the press in the highest terms.
'Little Mollie Brown, whose equal does not exist, is the only lady somersault rider in the world, and her acting is alone worth the price of admission. Then there are Leopold and Geraldine, the great trapeze artists; the two inimitable clowns, Nat Austin and Billy Burke; Romeo Sebastian, an old favorite although so young, the great Anglo-American somersault rider; Charles and Carrie Austin, the famous musket drill artists, and a full troupe of equestrians, acrobats, voltigeurs, gymnasts, etc.
'The menagerie comprises a large collection of rare animals, among which are a genuine black-maned African lion, the largest ever captured; monster royal Bengal tigers, African lionesses, eland, genuine Barbary zebra, sacred cow and calf, Japanese swine, river hog, Peruvian Hama, Kangaroo, Bengal and Cheetah leopards, the largest elephant ever in California, panthers, hyenas, and many others of equal rarity.' (Oakland Evening Tribune, Oakland, California, Tuesday, 25 August 1874, p. 3c)

'Big Elephant Show.
'Two circuses - two rings - two menageries - museum-aquarium, &c.- Sublime beyond parallel - The marvelous sensation of the age - All bareback riders.
'The famous Grand Circus Royal English Menagerie, Astley Museum, &c. is to visit Fort Wayne, Thursday, June 2 [1881]. Their claim to superiority seems justified, judging from the very complimentary terms in which the press of the entire country speaks of them. Below will be at once seen the popularity of Miss Mollie Brown:
'''The charming Mollie Brown's feats of somersaults, backward riding and pirouettes, are not only par excellence, but the inimitable perfection of grace.'' - San Francisco Bulletin.
'''Nothing seems too daring for Miss Mollie to undertake, or too difficult for her to accomplish. She is, in all respects, a most remarkable phenomenon. In her arduous role she has no superior.'' - San Francisco Call.
'''This lady displays the very poetry of motion; also possessing an attractive face and lovely form.'' San Francisco Chronicle.
(Fort Wayne Daily Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 25 May 1881, p. 1d)

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