William Abraham King spent over forty years of his
life as 'Snake King', the brave soul who captured and sold
reptiles to the Grind Show operators.
Born in 1875 in New York, the young King grew up selling
hand-caught snakes in the street to vendors who used them as
'attractions' to rope in prospective customers. He later met
and married Manuela Cortez (a direct descendent of the
King once claimed to have maintained at least
ten thousand rattle snakes at his Brownsville, Texas,
reptile ranch in order to keep the carnival buyers happy and
After surviving over 200 poisonous snake bites King
succumbed to natural causes in 1952.
JOHN STRONG. Jr.
John Strong, Jr. has been in the business all his
life. His father, Big John Strong, Sr. was the patriarch of
his own circus until his recent death, and John Jr. carries
on the family tradition via Ten-In-One Side Shows and a
variety of Grinders. For many years he was associated with
showman Bobby Reynolds and recently purchased Reynolds'
Ten-In-One operation for $20,000. For his money, Strong
acquired a 40 by 100 foot tent, bannerline, electrical
hook-up and staging. This, apparently is the show I
witnessed at the El Monte, California, date mentioned
earlier in this book.
Strong has revamped the show recently to capitalize his
involvement in the movie, BATMAN RETURNS, in which he played
a sword-swallowing henchman and fire-eater to Danny DeVito's
The newly framed show now features Flame, a fully-tattooed
28 year old snake charmer, a 500 Ib. clown, and Strong's
other working acts. He calls the show the Hollywood Circus
In the past, Strong had been known to separate his acts into
Single-O attractions such as the Spidora and Headless. At
one point he ran a freak animal show during the day and then
combined the critters with a live stage act in the evenings.
Even during his El Monte date he exhibited a pair of
elephant skinned dogs inside his Ten-In-One.
He operated a Snake Show on his father's circus, a Giant
Lizard (river monitor) Show, and a Giant Rat Show that got
him busted in Fireball, California for misrepresentation. He
framed up an extremely successful Wild Woman Show that
featured either a girl or a man (whichever was available -
the men wore wigs) behind bars. According to Jeff Murray,
this show was a knock-out at the Fresno, California Fair.
Elsewhere, Strong can be found exhibiting his legitimate
two-headed baby, pictured elsewhere in this
volume, and continues to frame up new shows all the time.
The Ten-In-One in its former days of glory.