Here are photos of my experience with Big John's Circus.   I was there between '82 and '84. 


My time with Big John is one that I will never forget and I have been asked if I could play my life over, would I do it again?  With out a dought I'd be there.  It was one of the best experiences of my life. 


Brian (everyone in the show called me "Smurf")
Thank you,
Brian AKA Flip Flop the Clown




























































All images courtesy of Brian R. Murphy copyright all rights reserved.



I thought I would tell you a little history about the photographs. John Strong III

First the person that sent in these photo's said his name was "Smurf"? or his real name Brian R. Murphy posted at end of this photo gallery.


I wasn't on the show in the last years of my Fathers Circus. However I see a lot of picture's here of "Pee Wee" and his wife Carman. I think Smurf was also called Pee-Wee.


JZ - Jim Zajicek was there then and would know more from the last two seasons.

What I do know is a lot.

The first picture shows my Father in his gold top hat. That was taken in 1983.

That top Hat was over 40 years old. My father Big John use to recover it a different color each year. Same hat only a different color each year. I remember asking my Father if I could borrow his Gold Top Hat and Tail Coat in 1985 for a show I was doing at the Rose Bowl Flea Market for R.G Canning Productions. I use to get paid to walk 12 foot stilts and meet and greet people coming to the World's Largest Flea Market held once a month in L.A. area. Some how I lost my dads 40 year old top hat that day. I really felt bad about that. Bought my Father another one, but it was never like his 40 year old gold top hat he had most of his circus life.

Smurf has a V.I.P. pass for my Dads Circus. I use to have thousands of them when doing advance work for my Fathers Circus. These passes were like gold to get the free passes in the schools or stores in the different towns we were playing.

The Spool Truck rolled up the tent everyday on the many one niters my Father played. The seats were bolted together 5 high and put two together for 10 rows of seats to a section.

Pee-wee was a tent crew worker. Met Carman on our Circus. Carmen taught Pee-wee many Circus skilled acts. I last saw Pee-Wee and Carman at the Mobile La. Fair two years ago. I was visiting the fair to see Pete and Athena Kolozsy.

Pee-wee and Carmen were selling water tattoo's they air brushed on the customers. They had new truck and trailer. Also told me they had three houses they rent out for income. They came a long ways together.

Pulling on the guy line is Heidi, Jay Evens, Wally, Chris. I could go on and on with some of these names. Heidi is our age and we grew up on our Parents Circus. Since she was three years old. Her Mother started the Funs-a-Popin Circus to great success. Heidi is back east with a dog grooming business and has lots of horses which she loved her whole life. Jay Evens is working with the Mayor in a large New Mexico City. He was quite a painter and Western act.

Pee-wee on top of the tent. He liked to go there to see all the sights of the new day.

Ron Pace and Chris Kennington also met on my Fathers Circus. Ron was a black American that was a tent worker. He later took care of our elephant Neena. He met Chris on our Circus and they did two different high acts together. Their show names were "Sugar and Spice". I always called them "Salt and Pepper". lol  They are retired from Circus now and live in Mesa Arizona. Chris also worked on top of our elephant in the elephant act. With Ron as the trainer.

Pee-wee and Carmen also sold peanuts in the Circus peanut Pitch. You can see them getting the boxes of peanuts out of the semi truck trailer.

Neena gets a bath. Looks like Wally my dad's tent boss for many years. However not quite sure?

BJ the clown was the main clown in those years. He went on to be C&M Circus tent boss. Then took over the food concessions on that business. He is still on that Circus in the concessions business. Also one of my Fathers #1 fans to this day.

JZ did wire, Rolla Bolla and Juggling act. JZ started as an act in a few Circuses before he when on to great success in the elephant business. And now owner of the BSC Sideshow traveling the world.

Chester Cable doing a foot juggling act. Chester could juggle a 10 foot 100 pound table. What an act. Chester met Wini Mckay on our Circus. They went on to produce their own Circuses world wide. Many in China. They are right now filming a Movie called "Water for Elephants" in L.A. area. It's a 40 million dollar movie they have all the circus props and
acts on the movie.

Henry Cowell did the Tramp act. Boy was this act Funny. He fall through the springs of the tramp. Even get his head stuck in the springs. Then he kick his legs wildly to try to get loose. I would laugh every time he performed. The Cowell own their own small family circus and play mostly fairs in Ca. Henry is still performing his famous Tramp act at 80 years young.

Well it was fun looking back in time. Thanks to Brian R. Murphy- 'Smurf" for some great pictures.


 If JZ has some facts for this time. Lets here them.


(JZ - Jim Zajicek aka The Curator - The Tent show pictures have to be from '83 cause the show became Kelly-Miller in '84...What wonderful photo's...The Spool believe it or not was hand cranked....In the 4th photo down from right to left pullin the tent off the spool is Jay Evans, Zippo aka Ted Tutwiler (Deceased), Jim Z, Mark Vossa, obscured by Vossa, Pee-Wee,BJ aka Jim Hebert (Current Concession Mgr on CM Circus), Obscured by BJ, Carlos Rivera, Donicker Dave Kilowatt aka David Donahue, Ed Rivera...John, Smurf was Smurf, Chitlin and Grits were the Brothers that bounced back and forth from Vargas and Big John Strong...Not Smurf.  The 2 years I was with The Big John Strong Circus were 2 of the Best years of my life...The people I met there became Lifelong Friends, and I learned more about Shows in those 2 years then in any other 2 year time frame in my Life...If you were Loyal (With it and For it) what Big John didn't pay you in cash he would pay you in opportunity, to Learn! Good Deal for Big John, Good Deal for those wise enough to see the pay-day would be in the Future if they stayed in the Business.. I only worked for Big John 2 seasons...But he helped and was interested in me till the day he died...and My story with Big John is one of the lesser ones...Many, many People were influenced and cut their teeth with Big John and have similar and grander stories of Big Johns Loyalty and help in their Careers, Big John to many, was their Father in the Circus, myself included. I miss him dearly.... The Curator)

I just tore down at a large fair. Have to travel many miles to my next adventure....

Little John Strong
Proud Son of "Big John Strong"
"The Man with more Friends than Santa Clause"
Tall Grass Showman


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