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Circopedia was originally created with the support of the Big Apple Circus,
and has been inspired and funded by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation.

In The Spotlight


Grandma in House (2010).jpg
For a quarter of a century, Barry Lubin, better known as Grandma, his clown persona, has been the iconic face of the Big Apple Circus. Although his career began and continued with other circuses in the U.S. and in Europe, to many New Yorkers and Bostonians in particular, Grandma is the Big Apple Circus. Many felt a strong sense of loss when he bid farewell to the Big Apple Circus's audiences in 2012: They had laughed at Grandma's antics when they were children, and in turn, their own children were growing up laughing with Lubin's beloved character. Thankfully, he returned to the Big Apple Circus for its Lincoln Center revival season in 2017.

Barry Lubin was born July 3, 1952 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the son of Edythe Weinberg Lubin, a homemaker, and George Simon Lubin, an audiovisual engineer. Barry nurtured hopes of becoming a television director, but the social turmoil of the late sixties and early seventies led to a period of self-questioning—as indeed it did for many disappointed youths at the time.

When a friend of Barry's applied for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, a new, offbeat learning institution, Barry decided to go along and audition with him. To his surprise, he was among the 48 applicants that were accepted that year (along with Bill Irwin, and Barry's occasional partner, Dick Monday). After eight weeks of training, Barry graduated and was hired by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey: the college, which was in effect a training program for the show's Clown Alley, principally taught its students how to become a "Ringling clownGeneric term for all clowns and augustes. '''Specific:''' In Europe, the elegant, whiteface character who plays the role of the straight man to the Auguste in a clown team.," able to work efficiently in the specific context of The Greatest Show On Earth. ... (more...)

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A Message from the Editor

CIRCOPEDIA is a constantly evolving and expanding archive of the international circus. New videos, biographies, essays, and documents are added to the site on a weekly—and sometimes daily—basis. Keep visiting us: even if today you don't find what you're looking for, it may well be here tomorrow! And if you are a serious circus scholar and spot a factual or historical inaccuracy, do not hesitate to contact us: we will definitely consider your remarks and suggestions.

Dominique Jando
Founder and Curator