Circus Horse

C Fi 9969

Derrick Rosaire Sr., 89, a world-famous animal trainer and patriarch of a well-known circus family, died Dec. 1, 2005, after a short illness.

“His last performance was in October at The Pines of Sarasota with his miniature horses,” said his daughter, Ellian, of Sarasota. “The show was filmed by a crew from Los Angeles for a documentary about our family.”

Rosaire, who was honored with a “Wagon Wheel” at St. Armands’ Walk of Fame, was born on Aug. 15, 1916, in South Wingfield, England, to a circus family of eight children who specialized in training and performing with lions, tigers, bears, dogs and chimpanzees.

He came to the United States in 1960 to appear on the “Ed Sullivan Show” with his equestrian act, “Rosaire and Tony the Wonder Horse.”

“He was an immediate success,” his daughter said, “and he and our family toured the United States and Canada performing in circuses, theaters and rodeos.”

He also trained movie animals, including Gentle Ben the Bear.

He performed at the World’s Fair, the Calgary Stampede and for President Nixon at the White House, and in shows in Las Vegas at Circus-Circus, the Stardust Hotel and the Excalibur Hotel.

He was a member of Showfolks of Sarasota.

Survivors include his wife, Lisette; daughters Pamela Zoppe, Linda Repasy, Kay and Ellian, all of Sarasota; a son, Derrick Jr. of Sarasota; foster sons Duke and Scott, both of Sarasota; stepsons Randy, Timmy and Tony Hernandez, all of Sarasota; a stepdaughter, Sylvia of Sarasota; a brother, Ivor of England; a sister, Ida of England; and eight grandchildren.

- Article by Hildegard Scheibner c.2005