Tiny Kline (born Helén Deutsch,June 21, 1891 - July 5, 1964) was a Hungarian-born circus performer. She performed with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey and as Tinker Bell at Disneyland. Kline's most well-known act was the "slide for life," a variation of traditional iron jaw performance in which she slid down a wire from tall buildings or other structures by her teeth.
In 1905, Kline immigrated to the United States with a dance troupe.New York port records indicate that she was born in Magyar, Hungary and was 15 years old when she arrived. She lived at the Clara de Hirsch home for immigrant girls. She started as a burlesque dancer and performed in clubs and music halls. Kline made headlines in 1912 when a Pittsburgh Press article titled "Witnesses forget and dancer gets off with costs," detailed a misdemeanor charge against the performer following "an alleged ultra-risqué performance in a singing hall in Bloomfield" earlier that year. The article stated that Kline was arrested for dancing in "what the authorities declared [sic] was too scanty attire." The witnesses could not corroborate the charges and Kline was allowed to go after paying her court fees.
In 1914, Kline moved on to perform in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus as Tiny Duchée.There, she met and later married rodeo trick rider Otto Kreinbrink (stage name Otto Kline). In April 1915 he fractured his skull during a performance at Madison Square Garden and died of injuries. After her husband's death, she began to use the name Tiny Kline. In 1917, on the second anniversary of Otto's death, Kline performed in the Roman standing race at the same venue, stating "we circus people have to learn to hide our sorrows under many bright colors. Otto has been dead two years, but I haven't found anything in life to take his place. That is why I wanted to learn to ride. I thought it might take me back to where he is."
Circus Queen and Tinker Bell: The Memoir of Tiny Kline, edited by professor Janet M. Davis, details Kline's beginnings with iron jaw after the performer "incurred the wrath of her sometimes friend Lillian Leitzel" who was angry when Kline performed on the rings in 1919.Kline began years of training for iron jaw performance and eventually perfected her "slide for life" act, in which she would slide down a wire, typically from tall buildings or structure, by her teeth. One of her most notable slides for life occurred in 1932 when Kline slid from the top of the Hotel Edison to the roof of the Prospect Theatre in New York City's famed Times Square, a distance of more than 200 yards at a height of 27 stories. Footage of the entire slide is available, and includes Kline saying "At last, I found a safe way to cross Times Square. I'm saying hello to Broadway!" Kline was arrested after the spectacle and charged with disorderly conduct. The slide for life became Kline's signature act.
In 1961, Walt Disney began a search for a flying Tinker Bell to wow crowds at Disneyland. Kline was hired to glide down a wire connecting the Matterhorn to Sleeping Beauty's Castle.She retired from playing Tinker Bell in 1964. Kline was scheduled to return as Tinker Bell that same year, but she died from stomach cancer before coming out of retirement.
At the time of her death Kline left the bulk of her estate to the Clara de Hirsch Home for Working Girls. She is buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, Los Angeles, California. Her simple gravestone says "Tiny Helen Kline. Our Tinker Bell."
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The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is an American traveling circus company billed as The Greatest Show on Earth. It and its predecessor have run shows from 1871, with a hiatus from 2017 to 2023. They operate as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. The circus started in 1919 when the Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth, a circus created by P. T. Barnum and James Anthony Bailey, was merged with the Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Shows. The Ringling brothers had purchased Barnum & Bailey Ltd. following Bailey's death in 1906, but ran the circuses separately until they were merged in 1919.
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Mabel Stark, whose real name was Mary Ann Haynie, was a renowned tiger trainer of the 1920s. She was referred to as one of the world's first women tiger trainers/tamers. In its belated obituary, The New York Times lauded Stark as "one of the most celebrated animal trainers in a field dominated by men."
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The Rieffenach family were circus performers who specialized in a bareback riding act that performed in Europe and the United States during the first half of the 20th century. Family members, daughters Maria (Mitzi) Rieffenach and Rose (Rosie) Rieffenach, were inducted into the Circus Hall of Fame in 1970. The Rieffenach Family Equestrian Act originated from the marriage of the mother Maria Enders of the Hungarian Circus Enders, and Simon Rieffenach Sr. The family performed their horseback riding act with the Sarrasani Circus in Europe from 1905 and were with the German Circus Carl Hagenbeck in 1921. The Rieffenach Family Riding Act came to the United States in 1922 after being booked to perform for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The Rieffenach Family Act was with Ringling Brothers for sixteen years through 1937. In her memoir, Tiny Kline, the famous circus acrobat, stated: "The Rieffenachs' riding act had been the feature in the center ring of the Big Show since their arrival from Austria". In 1939 the Rieffenachs went on the Cole Bros. Circus, performing through 1942 after which time the act was disbanded. One son, James Rieffenach, continued riding with the Poodles Hanneford Act, while the other members of the act retired. James died of a heart attack in 1945 while still performing with the Cole Bros. Circus.
Ella Bradna was a Bohemian-born equestrian circus performer in the United States.
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