Castle, Hubert

Hubert Castle

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Hubert Castle

Inducted into the Ring of Fame: 1994

Circus Profession: Low wire artist/Circus Producer

Born: 1912

Died: 1989

Hubert Castle Circus Ring of fame inductee

 

Hubert Castle was born Hal Silvers or Hal Smith in Enid Oklahoma around 1912. Not much is known about his early life from current records on hand. He appeared early on in his circus career as as tight wire artist Hal Silvers on the Zellmar Bros. and Schell Bros. Circus owned by George Engesser. His performance routine was that of an inebriated man in a top hat and tales fumbling his initial tricks only to do a quick change and then continue as a master of the low wire.

Silvers did several challenging tricks on the wire including the handspring, front and back somersaults and a swaying motion where he released the tension and made the wire wobble as he walked across it. He continued to perfect his craft and later appeared as  Hubert Castle on the Cole Bros. Circus in 1947 in a featured role. Castle also was booked on the 1951 season of The Greatest Show on Earth and purportedly refused to appear in the Cecil B. Demille movie because he demanded extra pay.

After his wire walking days were over and later in his career he started a Shrine sponsored circus that was headquartered in Seagoville, Texas. The show, under Castle’s management prospered for  many years. He was known to have a short temper on occasion and is rumored to use his fists to solve differences. Other times he was a gentleman exhibiting an urbane personality to sponsors and business partners.  Hubert Castle and his wife Mary lived in Dallas not far from his winter quarters.  He continued to manage the circus growing its route until retirement when he sold the show to Donny Johnson (an aerialist turned producer). Castle passed away in 1989.

Hubert Castle Circus Ring of fame inductee Hubert Castle Circus Ring of fame inductee Hubert Castle Circus Ring of fame inductee Hubert Castle Circus Ring of fame inductee Hubert Castle Circus Ring of fame inductee Hubert Castle Circus Ring of fame inductee Hubert Castle Circus Ring of fame inductee Hubert Castle Circus Ring of Fame inductee Hubert Castle Circus Ring of fame inductee Hubert Castle Circus Ring of fame inductee Hubert Castle Circus Ring of fame inductee Hubert Castle Circus Ring of fame inductee Hubert Castle Circus Ring of fame inductee Hubert Castle Circus Ring of fame inductee

The act was composed of Bob Yerkes, who was the catcher, his wife, Dorothy, and Reggie and his wife, Bonnie, née Cristiani—a member of the famous Italian family of equestrians, whom he had met on Muscle Beach in the early 1950s. Between circus contracts, Bob and Reggie performed movie stunts in Hollywood; Reggie appeared notably in Michael Todd’s award-winning movie, Around The World In Eighty Days (1956).

The Flying Armors (c.1958)

At five feet seven inches (1.72 meters), Reggie was rather tall for a flyer; yet in 1962, Yerkes caught Reggie’s first triple—a trick Reggie Armor would perform regularly with a success rate of more than 90%. In short order, The Flying Artons became a star act; Reggie was sometimes compared to the legendary Alfredo Codona, and he and his partners were featured in all major American circuses, and on television on ABC’s Hollywood Palace in 1956.

The Flying Armors

After a long association, Bob Yerkes and Reggie Armor eventually parted ways, and Reggie continued with his own act, the Flying Armors, which included his daughter, SaSa Armor. The Flying Armors appeared in England, on Thames Television’s Hippodrome (1966), and are one of the acts featured in Gilbert Gates’s circus documentary, Rings Around The World (released in 1966).

When Reggie retired from flying, he and his daughter created an aerial thrill act, with a rotating contraption that included a motorcycle Reggie rode on a small circular wooden platform up in the air. In 1978, while they were performing their act for the last time, outdoors at a church benefit fair, the carabiner holding Reggie’s safety belt broke, and he fell sixty feet to the concrete walkway below. He was severely injured and had to undergo no less than six surgeries that kept him hospitalized for several months.

That was the end of Reggie Armor’s performing career. He continued to work in a circus management capacity and as an event promoter. Reggie and Bonnie eventually retired, and they left Sarasota, Florida, home of many circus families, to settle in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Reggie and Bonnie Armor had three children, Jay, SaSa and Reginald III. Jay, the oldest, worked as a clown in the trampoline act the family performed in addition to other acts; he was tragically killed in a random shooting in a bar on New Year’s Eve 1975, at age 21.

Reggie Armor passed away in Tulsa on May 22, 2010. He was eighty years old.

 

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