Betty Lou looks out at us with an expression we read as very human. And with a “real” name like Betty Lou, this large ape must be almost human. With her head cocked and her upturned, slightly opened mouth, we see her smiling and seemingly beckoning us to come and watch her perform under the big tent in her new gig as a circus star with the Cole Bros. Circus. And how can we say no? Here’s our chance to see a real movie star, as the poster tells us she starred in Tarzan movies. How impressive is that! And how thrilling it is to see a real live ape!
This is the message of this vintage circus poster which takes us back to an earlier era when the traveling circus was a great source of excitement every summer to the towns it visited. When the circus came to town, the ho-hum, day-to-day life in the community paused. With parades and shows and the chance to see a startling variety of never-before-seen animals (and humans!), people gathered in throngs, excited about the new sights and sounds.
This poster is a bit different from most circus posters of that time period (1930s-1940s) which show busy scenes of circus activity. This poster is a personal invitation from the great ape Betty Lou – pictured up close and personal. The intended response to this invitation? Yes! Let’s go to the circus this year!