Barnum & Bailey Circus Show poster - The Greatest Show on Earth.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was an American traveling circus company billed as The Greatest Show on Earth. It and its predecessor shows ran from 1871 to 2017. Known as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows, the circus started in 1919 when the Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth, a circus created by P. T. Barnum and James Anthony Bailey, was merged with the Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Shows. The Ringling brothers had purchased Barnum & Bailey Ltd. following Bailey's death in 1906, but ran the circuses separately until they were merged in 1919.
On July 16, 1956, at the Heidelberg Race Track in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the circus ended its season early, with President John Ringling North announcing that it would no longer exhibit under their own portable "big top" tents and starting in 1957 would exhibit in permanent venues, such as sports stadiums and arenas that had the seating already in place. In 1967, Irvin Feld and his brother Israel, along with Houston Judge Roy Hofheinz bought the circus from the Ringling family. In 1971, the Felds and Hofheinz sold the circus to Mattel, buying it back from the toy company in 1982. Since the death of Irvin Feld in 1984, the circus had been a part of Feld Entertainment, an international entertainment firm headed by Kenneth Feld, with its headquarters in Ellenton, Florida.
The show traditionally began with the ringmaster singing the national anthem.