Businessman, Entertainer. Born Johann Nicholas Rüngeling, one of seven sons of German immigrant and harness maker in McGregor, Iowa, after moving to Baraboo, Wisconsin, the brothers Ringling created and performed a vaudeville-type show in Mazomanie, Wisconsin, on November 27, 1882. Two years later, the Ringling Brothers were able to open their first circus. By 1887, the growing Ringling brothers' show was called “Ringling Bros. United Monster Shows, Great Double Circus, Royal European Menagerie, Museum, Caravan, and Congress of Trained Animals”. By 1900, Ringling Brothers had one of the largest shows in the country and began absorbing other circuses. In 1907, the Ringlings purchased their largest competitor, and the “Barnum & Bailey Circus; The Greatest Show on Earth” became the Ringlings' show for $400,000. He was an early settler and developer of Sarasota, Florida. He owned and planned the Ringling Isles subdivision that included St. Armands Key, Bird Key, Coon Key, Wolf Key, and 2,000 acres on Longboat Key. He had built the Ringling Causeway and bridge to St. Armand Key and then donated it to the city. John Ringling was listed as one of the richest men in the world in 1925. In 1927, he moved the winter quarters of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus to Sarasota. In 1929, he bought the American Circus Corporation for $2 million. With that purchase, the last surviving Ringling brother owned virtually every traveling circus in America. Shortly after the acquisition, he lost his wife and much of his fortune. Ringling was voted out of control of his business in 1932, and at his death he willed his house, his museum, and his entire art collection to the state of Florida.
Bio by: Iola
INTERRED JUNE 4, 1991