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Berthelson To Talk About The Greatest Showman On Earth, April 11 For Historical Society



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Berthelson To Talk About The Greatest Showman On Earth, April 11 For Historical Society

Bethel’s own P.T. Barnum is a fascinating study in American life. On Monday, April 11, at 7:30 pm, Newtown Historical Society will host a presentation by Bob Berthelson entitled “The Legacy of PT Barnum, The Greatest Showman on Earth!”

The program will be in the community room of C.H. Booth Library, 25 Main Street (Route 25).

Phineas Taylor Barnum was born July 5, 1810; the promotional value lost by missing the holiday must have rankled him. He had a varied early career, operating a general store, and later publishing the Danbury-based newspaper Herald of Freedom.

Remarks made about certain church elders landed him in jail for libel, and when released he decided to try his luck on a bigger stage and moved to New York. In 1835 he got his start in show business by exhibiting an elderly black woman he claimed to be the 160-year-old former nurse of George Washington; however old she may have been, she died the next year, but the seed was planted and Barnum was committed to show business.

Barnum purchased the American Museum and began to show his flair for merchandizing, flying colorful banners from the building, mounting oversize pictures of the exhibits on the outside walls, and offering balloon rides from the rooftop. His big break came with the arrival of Charles Stratton, a/k/a General Tom Thumb, whom Barnum took on a highly successful European tour, scoring one publicity coup after another. By 1846 his museum was drawing more than 400,000 visitors per year.

After the museum burned to the ground for the second time, Barnum decided to forego a fixed location and began what he billed as “The Greatest Show On Earth,” which eventually evolved into the Barnum & Bailey Circus known today.

Bob Berthelson is a resident of Trumbull, and has prepared several talks which he has presented to various civic groups and historical societies in the area. He has twice presented programs for Newtown Historical Society, including last year’s program on the history of photography.

All Newtown Historical Society programs are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served following the presentation.

For further information call 203-426-5937. Reservations are not needed.

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