RINGLING MUSEUM HOSTS CIRCUS CELEBRITY NIGHT HONORING CIRCUS LEGENDS
Sarasota, FL – Jan. 17, 2012 – On Friday, Jan. 20, the Ringling Museum plays host to Circus Celebrity Night, honoring the contributions of legendary performers of the Circus. This year’s honorees include, the singing ringmaster Harold Ronk; chimpanzee trainers Sue and Rudi Lenz; and comic daredevil and Sarasota native, Bello Nock. The evening’s host is Heidi Herriott. A reception will be at 6 p.m. followed by an awards ceremony at 7 p.m. in the Historic Asolo Theater. John Herriott and William Hall are among the presenters. The event is free of charge and open to the public.
From 1951 to 1981, Harold Ronk was the voice of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus and defined the role of the singing ringmaster with his rich baritone voice. Born in 1921 in Peoria, Illinois, Ronk transformed the role of ringmaster, incorporating his talents as a mainstay of the production numbers, a tradition which he continues to this day. After appearing in more than 10,000 performances of The Greatest Show on Earth, Ronk retired in 1980. His contributions to the art of circus performance have been recognized for inclusion in both the International Circus Hall of Fame and Sarasota’s Ring of Fame.
For thirty years, Rudi and Sue Lenz entertained circus audiences in Europe and the United States with their performing chimpanzees. The Lenzs trained chimps to perform a variety of tricks, including cartwheels, somersaults, stilt-walking, and iron jaw. They even created a rhythmic chimp band. Their troupe usually consisted of six performing chimps with one or two others in the process of being trained to join the act. They held center ring with Ringling Bros. for twelve years before moving on to a variety of other American circuses. The honors they have received, include the World’s Fair Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003, Induction in the International Circus Hall of Fame in 2003, and induction into Sarasota’s Circus Ring of Fame in 2010.
Easily recognized by his foot-tall natural red hair, oversized tuxedo with bow tie, white gloves and saddle shoes, seventh generation circus performer, Bello Nock is known around the globe as a multi-talented entertainer. Dubbed America’s Best Clown by Time Magazine in 2001, Nock considers himself to be a comic daredevil, bringing humor to some of the most dangerous stunts. He has performed 80 ft. high sway poles, a motorcycle on a high wire, two different giant wheels of steel, a motorcycle globe, a comedy high wire, bungee, trampolines, leaps over elephants and skywalks over such venues as the Reliant Stadium and Lincoln Center. Bello completed three tours with the Big Apple Circus before joining Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus in 2001. Bellobration, marked the first time in Ringling’s 140-year history a production was named after one performer. In February 2009, Bello returned to Sarasota to perform in the aptly titled Bello Comes Home with Circus Sarasota. This February returns to Circus Sarasota with the production Bellomania! Bello has received numerous honors, including the Silver Crown at the International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo in 1998, the Walt Disney Award for Creative Entertainment, and the Gold Lion at the Lausanne International Festival. In 2009, Nock became the youngest inductee in Sarasota’s Circus Ring of Fame and in 2011 was awarded the Golden Clown in Monte Carlo.