Inducted into the Ring of Fame: 1998
Circus Profession: Aerialist/Roman Rings
Founder and Vice President, The Circus Arts Conservatory
Known as the "Queen of the Air," Dolly Jacobs is a world-renowned circus aerialist as well as a dedicated teacher, sharing the tradition of circus arts with new generations through performing and training.
Jacobs mother was one of the top 10 New York models of her time who was featured on several magazine covers and appeared in a variety of commercials and movies. Her father was Lou Jacobs, one of the most famous clowns of the century, who performed with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for over 60 years. Earning the distinction of being the only living American to have his image on a U.S. postage stamp, he was one of the world’s most beloved and recognized clowns becoming a living legend in the circus world.
Jacobs grew up in Sarasota, Fla., and ocassionally traveled with her father in the circus during her school breaks. She was a part of Sailor Circus in Sarasota, a youth program that is uniquely reflective of the community's circus heritage.
Jacobs joined the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1971 as a member of the corps de ballet, making her solo debut on the Roman rings in a lauded performance in 1976. She has been featured in multiple magazines, documentaries and television shows world-wide. She was twice invited to perform in the prestigious International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo founded by Prince Ranier and Princess Grace and each time was recognized as "La Dame du Cirque." In 1988 she received the coveted Silver Clown Award, presented to her by Prince Albert of Monaco.
In 1997, Jacobs and her husband, fellow circus artist Pedro Reis, founded Circus Sarasota (today known as The Circus Arts Conservatory), a nonprofit organization that presents world-class professional performances while also providing youth training, educational and outreach programs. The dynamic duo oversees the Sailor Circus Academy, the youth circus arts program Jacobs participated in as a child, and also conducts programming in local schools that integrates the circus arts into subjects including science, language arts, and theater classes. The CAC's Circus Arts in Healthcare program brings joy and circus arts to those in assisted living communities and adult day care centers.
In 1998, Jacobs was inducted into the prestigious Circus Ring of Fame and, in 1999, received the "Circus Celebrity" acclamation from the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, awarded to members of the community who have brought extraordinary dedication and excellence to the circus arts. In 2012 she received the Florida Folk Heritage award from the Florida Department of State. In 2013 she was inducted into The Gallery of Acrobatic Legends for her outstanding acrobatic feats. In 2015, she became the first ever circus artist to ever receive the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award.