Tuesday, March 23
#9) Feline Fatale ~ Mabel Stark
Mabel Stark is considered the premier woman tiger trainer of the 1920s. From her early years Stark had a strong desire to work with wild cats. She had friends in the circus and was able to find work in the industry. A free spirit, she traveled a lot and finally studied and took a profession in nursing. Her heart longed for circus life however and she continued to take on odd jobs working as a performer/ dancer. Finally she she got her chance to work in the ring with the tigers. The crowd loved her as much as she loved what she was doing. She soon adopted a small tiger and trained in her basement and local parks perfecting her daring performances. She was a fierce and talented entertainer who at one point was hired by Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus and soon became well known in the industry for her dangerous acts. She performed with several circuses for over 30 year career span and due to her popularity appeared on television during the 1960's.
It was a dispute with her employer that resulted in Stark losing her position in the last circus she performed with. Once she left, she was heartbroken to learn that one of the tigers she trained had escaped and was shot. Devastated, Mabel Stark killed her self by overdosing on barbiturates on April 20, 1968.
"The chute door opens as I crack my whip and shout, 'Let them come,' Out slink the striped cats, snarling and roaring, leaping at each other or at me. It's a matchless thrill, and life without it is not worth while to me."
(December 9, 1889 - April 20, 1968)