John Ringling North

C Fi 9959

When people hear the name “Ringling,” they most likely think of John Ringling who – with five of his brothers – founded Ringling Bros. World’s Greatest Shows. But John Ringling North was also a key figure in Ringling Bros.’ history.

North was the son of Harry Whitestone North and Ida Loraina Wilhelmina Ringling. (Ida was John Ringling’s only sister.) After John Ringling’s death in 1936, North became president and director of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows Inc.

North is credited with many advances in the circus experience. In 1956, he moved performances from tents to air-conditioned venues. Historically, going to the circus was a three hour affair, with a menagerie tent, parade and 20+ acts followed by a concert and chariot racing. Working with Bel Geddes, North introduced a more coherent experience, with “specs” (spectacles) supplemented by production numbers. Each year featured a different theme, with the nostalgia of ‘Mother Goose’ being used in the inaugural year. North also famously brought George Balanchine in one year to choreograph an elephant ballet. (Balanchine in turn brought in Igor Stravinsky to compose the music.)

North stayed with the circus until its sale in 1967. He lived the remainder of his life in Europe.

Source image:



Jeff Pilkinton

Jeff Pilkinton is an American full time artist from Fort Wayne IN. Jeff specializes in Murals and Chalk Art traveling the country doing chalk and street paint festivals. Although not limited to just murals and street painting Jeff loves all forms of art and creates in acrylic and oil portraiture, plein air painting and live sketching. Jeff was a pavement artists at the Sarasota-Venice Chalk Festival in 2019.

"I was honored to be a part of this event. I met so many great people in Sarasota that welcomed me and made me feel at home. I always loved the circus and that's why I wanted to do the portraits of the Ringlings. I also did the VW van because It had such a great coastal Florida vibe."

Jeff Pilkinton painted:
John Ringling
John Ringling North
Siesta Keys VW Van

Written By

Nanette Crist

Nanette Crist is a retired lawyer who began blogging when she moved to Florida. It was an online diary of sorts, a way to keep track of her new life. It was also a good way to share her discoveries with friends and family outside the area. Over time, Nanette realized her writing makes her experience the world differently. She keeps an eye out for interesting things to write about and then delves more deeply into them as she crafts her words. It's all about telling the story. Nanette's blog can be found at