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Looking Back: Tom Mix To Bring Circus to Paso Robles March 14 

Click here to read the full front page of the Saturday, March 14, 1936, Paso Robles Times.

Excerpt from the Saturday, March 14, 1936, Paso Robles Times

–The circus is coming to town! Yes sir, the clowns, the trapeze artists, the performing elephants and lions, the trick horses, and every thrill of the sawdust ring, plus Tom Mix and Tony in person, will be yours on Tuesday, March 24, when the largest independently owned circus in the world will give two performances in Paso Robles, starting at 2 and 8 o’clock p.m.

Edward L. Conroy, advance agent for the Tom Mix circus, visited Paso Robles yesterday, making arrangements for grounds, advertising, etc., which must precede this event.

The magic rumble of red wagons and the mysterious foot-steps of circusdom’s spangled battalions have echoed down the corridors of many summers, yet regardless of whatever else may be on the day’s bill of entertainment, rich and poor, with high hats and in shabby best suits they come. Every vistage of grandeur and pomp are gone, bags of popcorn, peanuts, and cold drinks are consumed.

Children—and grownups too, who have crowded into the front seats of the theater to watch Tom Mix and Tony ride across the silver sheet will sit in the center of sections of the grandstand, or maybe on the hay, put down around the crowded “blue” section, and watch the same Tom Mix and Tony do dashing things in the sawdust rings.

The finest acts, internationally known, are on the Tom Mix program. The famous flying Arbaugh-Ward family, featuring Jimmy Arbaugh’s comet-like leaping double somersault and side twist from the high trapeze; “Oddities of the Jungle”; the famous old circus family of Riding Hobsons, which dates back more than half a century of performance in the center rings; Erma Ward, aerialist, noted for her beauty and her famous one arm planch on the Spanish Web; Miss Ward holds the great Leitzel award for endurance.

A menagerie act with fifty splendid beauties on the Hippodrome track and in the rings, riding, high jumping, waltzing and rumba thorough-bed equines; a bevy of beautiful girls swinging through the dome of the big top; the clown contingent of chalk faced funsters with such noted clowns as “Pop Ash”, oldest working clown in America.

The big rings of performing, educated elephants, ring after ring jammed with acts, thrills and laughter, animals and wonder. Trained lions, tigers and bears; 150 head of motion picture horses from Tom Mix’s own stables.

The circus annex, under direction of Ted Metz, will open at 10 a.m. And is continuous, featuring freaks from all parts of the earth and clean entertainment.


Editorial note: 

Tom Mix is considered to be Hollywood’s first Western star, appearing in 291 movies (mostly silent) between 1909 and 1935. He and his horse, Tony, helped define the genre of cowboy stars and their wonder horses. 

Tony was the first of the cowboy sidekick “wonder horses,” leading the way for the equine stars to follow such as Trigger (Roy Rogers), Champion (Gene Autry), Topper (Hopalong Cassidy), and Silver and Scout (Lone Ranger and Tonto), and many more.  

A visit from Tom Mix and Tony back in the day had a status similar to a visit from Blake Shelton today, except Shelton doesn’t bring his wonder horse. 


Read previous Looking Back articles


This “Looking Back” view at Paso Robles history comes from one of the hundreds of local newspapers in the Paso Robles Area Historical Society collection. Several local newspapers, dating from the 1800s, have reported on local, national and world events, providing priceless historical views of our community that are not available from any other source. The Historical Society is seeking community support for the multi-phased Newspaper Preservation Project to help fund the transfer of these aged and fragile pages to microfilm and digital images. See the society website for more information about becoming a member or donating to any phase of this project.

The Paso Robles Daily News is pleased to support this important project. Watch this space for future “Looking Back” articles.

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About the author: Access Publishing

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Paso Robles Daily News on Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog.