Historical Figures

Louis Roth (Animal Trainer)

Mabel Stark trained with Louis Roth when she expressed her love for tigers at the Al G. Barnes Circus in Culver City, California. He later became Stark’s first husband. He was chief animal trainer at Selig Zoo. He is also known for his work in movies with different wild animals. All animal trainers prior to Louis Roth harmed animals until they did as they were told. Roth began a new form of animal training. He deciphered that rewarding animals with food was a more efficient and humane way to train animals. He referred to this as "gentling," which he later passed on to Stark.


Roger Smith

Roger Smith was a 5-year apprentice under Mabel Stark and additional animal trainers at Jungleland in Thousand Oaks, California. He addressed Stark, the half-century legend, as encyclopedic on tigers. Following her suicide and the closing of Jungleland, he was one of the last to learn how to train big cats in such a setting.


Clyde Beatty (Lion Tamer)

Known for recapturing an escaped tiger, known for polar bear training and performing mixed big cat acts of 30 or 40 lions and tigers.

Felicia Frisco

Felicia Frisco (currently the youngest female big cat trainer in the US)

Patricia White (Former Trainer)

Patricia White was born in 1955. She started training animals at the age of 18. White starred in circuses in North America, Europe, and Asia. She traveled for more than a decade in Carlson and Barnes Circus. She performed an act in the National Circus of Austria that included lions, tigers, bears, and a hyena. When her 37-year career came to an end, she passed away at the age of 62 in 2017, having done her last interview on Mabel, Mabel, Tiger Trainer.

'Tiger Trainer Pat White remembered for great spirit'

Janet M. Davis (Author/Circus Historian)

Janet M. Davis was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1964. She grew up in the Upper Midwest while she attended many study abroad programs in Germany and India. Davis is known for her book The Circus Age: Culture & Society Under the American Big Top. She finished her Ph.D. in U.S. History in 1998. Shortly, she became a professor at the University of Texas in Austin where she teaches Introduction to American Studies. Davis has won a variety of teaching and publication awards such as the 2016 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.

Profile on university website
Article 5 Myths about the Circus

Trudy Strong (Former Trainer)

Trudy Strong was born into the circus. She is a trained aerialist, tiger trainer, and 50-year circus veteran. She is also known for starring in the documentary film Finale (2009). Strong now resides in Florida with over 40 dogs.


Jeanette Williams (Circus agent and Former Trainer)

Jeanette Williams is an 8th generation circus performer. Williams is the founder and president of Entertainment & Circus Agency, LLC. She is a former animal trainer from Blue Unit Ringling Brothers Circus. She is also the current owner and operator of Circus Williams in Germany.

Article Send out the Clowns

Kay Rosaire (Former Trainer)

Kay Rosaire, an 8th generation animal trainer, traveled all over the world with her act and is one of the few women in the world to have put her head in a tiger’s mouth. She founded the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary in Sarasota, Florida, an organization devoted to rescuing big cats and other animals.

Big Cat Habitat website
Circus Rosaire film website
Article: Queen of the Beasts

Mae West
Screen Capture from "I'm No Angel" (Mabel's Film Debut)

With a career spanning 7 decades, West is one of the greatest female stars of classic American cinema. She met Mabel Stark as a stunt double on the set of the film, "I'm no Angel", was the most successful film of West's career. She was impressed with Mabel's handling of the tigers and, when asked if she would trade places with any woman, Mae West answered, "Maybe this tiger gal, Mabel Stark".

Book excerpt regarding Mae West's involvement with Mabel - "In Full Bloom" p. 158

Ralph Edwards

Ralph Edwards was an American radio and television show host. While he made strides in the creation & development of the modern game show, he was also the host on several radio shows. He also hosted the radio-turned-television show, "This is Your Life" where interviewed celebrities and public figures including Mabel Stark. His most popular show, Truth or Consequences, gave careers to later celebrities including Jack Bailey and Bob Barker.

April 26, 1950 - Mabel Stark Interview with Ralph Edwards on NBC Radio - YLR064

Clyde Beatty Jr.

Clyde Beatty Jr. is the only son of famed wild animal trainer Clyde Beatty. He is the founder of Clyde Beatty Surfboards in California and currently works as a board shaper. In the film, he discusses his father's experiences as a trainer.

Gunther Gebel-Williams

With Tiger

Gunther Gebel-Williams was an animal trainer for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus after Mabel Stark. Beginning as an animal trainer at a circus in Germany, Gebel-Williams went on to be one of the biggest names in circus performances with elephants and tigers. In his retirement he worked as the circus’ Vice President of Animal Care to ensure the animals were being treated humanely. He also passed his knowledge of circus animal training down to his son, Mark.


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