Nicholas, Count

Count Nicholas

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Count Nicholas

Inducted into the Ring of Fame: 2016

Circus Profession: Ringmaster

Born: 1910

Died: 2001

Count Nicholas Circus Ring of Fame inductee

 

Angelo Nicholas (better known as “Count Nicholas”), was born Aug. 31, 1910, in Volos, Greece. Angelo became one of the most famous circus ringmasters in America. As a youth Nicholas Emigrated to the United States. In 1927 at age 16 Nicholas joined the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Nicholas’ first job on the circus was as a usher, seating audiences as they came into the big top. Circus Ringmaster Fred Bradna, who had been with RBBB since 1919, took a liking to the youth. Bradna was idealized by the young Nicholas and soon became his mentor. Nicholas was with the RBBB during the tragic Hartford Fire in 1944. In 1951 Count Nicholas became the ringmaster of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and continued in that position until 1955. on August 31 1954 (His 44 birthday) “the Count” was presented with a gold whistle by fellow performers. After leaving Ringling, Count Nicholas served as ringmaster on many large circuses, including the Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. Circus. In 1967 Nicholas was hired by the James E. Strates Shows (a large railroad carnival), as their Ambassador of good will. In this position the Count met with the press, gave interviews and promoted the rich history of the show which had started as a small carnival in 1910. Count Nicholas died on Jun. 20, 2001, at age 90. Angelo Nicholas (better known as "Count Nicholas"), was born Aug. 31, 1910, in Volos, Greece. Angelo became one of the most famous circus ringmasters in America. As a youth Nicholas Emigrated to the United States. In 1927 at age 16 Nicholas joined the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Nicholas' first job on the circus was as a usher, seating audiences as they came into the big top. Circus Ringmaster Fred Bradna, who had been with RBBB since 1919, took a liking to the youth. Bradna was idealized by the young Nicholas and soon became his mentor. Nicholas was with the RBBB during the tragic Hartford Fire in 1944. In 1951 Count Nicholas became the ringmaster of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and continued in that position until 1955. on August 31 1954 (His 44 birthday) "the Count" was presented with a gold whistle by fellow performers. After leaving Ringling, Count Nicholas served as ringmaster on many large circuses, including the Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. Circus. In 1967 Nicholas was hired by the James E. Strates Shows (a large railroad carnival), as their Ambassador of good will. In this position the Count met with the press, gave interviews and promoted the rich history of the show which had started as a small carnival in 1910. Count Nicholas died on Jun. 20, 2001, at age 90. count nicholas circus ring of fame inductee count nicholas circus ring of fame inductee count nicholas circus ring of fame inductee Count Nicholas Circus Ring of Fame inductee count nicholas circus ring of fame inductee count nicholas circus ring of fame inductee count nicholas circus ring of fame inductee count nicholas circus ring of fame inductee count nicholas 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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