cover of book

Circus Queen and Tinker Bell: The Memoir of Tiny Kline
by Tiny Kline
edited by Janet M. Davis
University of Illinois Press, 2008
eISBN: 978-0-252-09555-9 | Cloth: 978-0-252-03312-4 | Paper: 978-0-252-07510-0
Library of Congress Classification GV1811.K56A3 2008
Dewey Decimal Classification 791.3092


This engaging memoir follows the life and career of circus performer Tiny Kline (1891-1964) from the burlesque house to the circus tent, and on to Disneyland and the silver screen. While working for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Kline became well known for her signature "slide for life" stunt, an "iron jaw" act in which she slid to the ground while dangling from trapeze rigging by her teeth. Kline renewed her spectacular acrobatics at the age of seventy when she played Tinker Bell in the "Fantasy in the Sky" fireworks show at Disneyland. In that same year, she also began writing her life story.

Extensively annotated by Janet M. Davis, this memoir documents twentieth-century changes in popular amusements, while providing fresh insight into circus personalities such as John Ringling, acrobat Lillian Leitzel, and big cat trainer Mabel Stark, as well as mainstream entertainers like Florenz Ziegfeld, John Philip Sousa, and others. Kline also provides intimate details about the daily machinations at the circus, including fascinating accounts of its sexual politics, racial dynamics, risky nature, and labor relations.

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