The Circus Ring of Fame Foundation® announced today four new inductees for the Class of 2024.
The four inductees are:
- Her Serene Highness Princess Stephanie of Monaco, President of the Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo
- Circus Executive and Producer Wayne McCary
- Multi-talented circus equestrienne, animal trainer, and vocalist Catherine Hanneford Carden
- Guinness World record holder for longest and highest human cannonball shot, David Smith Jr., and his father David Smith Sr.
- Also inducted into a special category honoring circus arts coaching, Bob Yerkes will become the inaugural winner of the Willie Edelston Circus Arts Coach of the Year award.
Formal induction will take place at The Circus Ring of Fame Awards show on February 10, 2024. Ticket information will be announced soon.
“This year’s class of inductees exemplifies the highest of achievement in circus arts and culture,” said Bill Powell, chair of the Foundation. “We congratulate the winners and their families and look forward to seeing everyone at the awards show. With this stellar group of inductees, the demand for tickets will be at an all-time high,” Powell noted.
The Circus Ring of Fame® class of 2024 inductees:
HSH Princess Stephanie of Monaco – Her Serene Highness Princess Stephanie of Monaco took to heart her father’s commitment to supporting traditional circus artists and their families through an annual festival. Fifty years after its establishment by Prince Rainier III, the Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo is produced by Princess Stephanie and remains the world’s highest competitive platform for circus arts. In 2012, Princess Stephanie created an additional festival to recognize the achievements of young artists. The Princess’s eldest daughter Pauline now presides over Festival New Generation, thus continuing the legacy of her grandfather. Envisioned by Princess Stephanie to preserve circus arts and culture, the World Circus Federation was established in 2008 and continues to operate under her patronage. Princess Stephanie’s tireless work, dedication, and advocacy honors and sustains circus arts, artists, families, and culture worldwide.
Catherine Hanneford Carden – Catherine is a seventh-generation performer, having started with her family at age five as a ballerina on horseback under the watchful eye of her great uncle, the legendary Poodles Hanford. She not only trained elephants and horses in her teens, but also learned skills as an acrobat, aerialist, trampolinist, dancer, and later vocalist and announcer. She appeared with Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey starting in 1998 with her featured liberty horses in The Living Carousel, followed by four years with the Ringling Gold Unit alongside husband Brett Carden. Later, they toured their own circus, presenting over 200 shows a year.
David Smith Sr. and David Smith Jr. – Smith Sr. was an accomplished gymnast before learning the flying trapeze and forming the Rock Smith Flyers. He built his first cannon in the early 1980s debuting on the Hubert Castle Circus. David Sr. and Jr. hold the Guinness World record for height and distance appearing with circuses and events worldwide and on numerous television shows such as America’s Got Talent Extreme. For three decades they have thrilled audiences with their daredevilry.
Wayne McCary – Highly regarded entrepreneur Wayne Cary produced Shrine circuses and oversaw the Eastern States Exposition (The Big E) for more than 30 years as President and Executive Director. In that position, he was instrumental in establishing and producing the annual Big E Circus. His accomplishments received recognition in John. H. McConnell’s A History of the Shrine Circus and Robert L. Parkinson’s Directory of American Circuses 1793-2000. McCary has made it his lifetime ambition to entertain millions of enthusiasts through his contributions to the amusement industry. He serves as vice chair and director of the World Circus Federation, collaborating with Princess Stephanie of Monaco to promote her love for the circus arts worldwide.
Bob Yerkes – Circus artist and stuntman Brayton “Bob” Yerkes, born in 1932, started tumbling down Santa Monica’s Muscle Beach at age 11 and ran away to join an acrobatic troupe with Clyde Beatty Circus at age 15. Yerkes formed several trapeze acts for the circus including the Flying Alexanders and Flying Artons. He began his movie stunt career in LA in 1948 and split his time between circuses and movies. Yerkes is legendary for 70 years of movie stunts, doubling for such stars as Paul Newman and Arnold Schwarzenegger among others, and is highly regarded in the film industry. Over the years, Yerkes coached an endless number of celebrities for TV’s Circus of the Stars in the ’70s and ’80s. Yerkes became the movie and TV industry’s “go-to” advisor for circus-themed films and TV shows. He received the World Acrobatics Society Lifetime Achievement Award-Gallery of Acrobatic Legends.
The new inductees to the Circus Ring of Fame will join the 160 honored since 1987. All of those recognized have made a significant contribution to the art and culture of the circus. Updates on the ceremony will be posted on the website and social media.
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