David Smart

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Circus Entrepreneur

By Dominique Jando

The son of British funfair and circus entrepreneur Billy Smart (1893-1966), David Smart (1929-2007) was born in his parents' trailer at Hayes, Middlesex, on August 21, 1929. He grew up in the atmosphere of funfairs and carnivals: His father, himself the son of a traveling showman, operated an important traveling funfair in England. In 1946, Billy Smart began his circus venture and created Billy Smart's New World Circus.

David and several of his siblings (Billy Smart had thirteen children, David being the third youngest) were put in charge of the funfair, which consisted of about 10 rides and several vending booths, and traveled with the circus. But soon, as the circus grew in importance, David joined the show, and the funfair was eventually disbanded. David became in time the circus' performance director, supervising the production in all its technical aspects, as well as managing the logistics of what had become one of Europe's largest touring circus.

When the family opened the Royal Windsor Safari Park in 1969 near Windsor (sold in 1977, it is today Legoland), David took over the full management of the circus. But new economic circumstances didn't allow keeping such a large operation on the road, and the circus folded its tents in 1971. The show was revived however every winter for a BBC television Christmas special until 1979, and in 1977, David masterminded the Royal Windsor Big Top Show, a televised Royal Command circus performance in presence of Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family, on the occasion of the Queen's Silver Jubilee.

In 1980, David launched his own David Smart's Super Circus, a resident big topThe circus tent. America: The main tent of a traveling circus, where the show is performed, as opposed to the other tops. (French, Russian: Chapiteau) at Battersea Park in London, but this expensive venture was short-lived. He produced a circus in Amsterdam in 1992, and in 1993, he helped his brother Ronnie re-launch the title Billy Smart's Circus; the title is still active today under license to the impresario Tony Hopkins (www.billy-smarts-circus.co.uk). David Smart married in 1951 Olga Elleano Stey, daughter of the wirewalker Elleano, from the Stey Swiss family of wirewalkers and daredevils. She and David had five children, Yasmine, David, Jr., Davida, Rebecca, and Gabriella. He was a Jury at the International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo in 1983.

David Smart died in Clobham, Surrey, on July 9, 2007 at age 77.

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