Circus Main Entrance Circuses Circus Performers Circus Sideshows Circus Sideshow performers Life with the circus Circus owners and managers Circus Movies Circus candy butchers


Circus Owner Walter Kernan

Walter Kernan

Nov. 27 1908 - Jan. 27 1963


Walter Kernan Clyde Beatty Cole Bros Circus
Click to Enlarge
Photo Courtesy of
Illinois State University
Milner Library

Born in Arlington, Mass. Nov 27 1908.

Kernan first job was setting type and running a press in a printing shop for 10 cents an hour.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey visited the area in 1925, young Walter visited the show and was bitten by the circus bug.

In 1927 Walter approached Bob Reynolds (head property man on Ringling), and asked for a job. Reynolds looked at the frail 19 year old with some doubt. Reynolds told the youth that the work was hard and was long hours, to which Walter replied "I can take it".

He worked his way up to become assistant manager of the show. In 1954 due to a dispute with John Ringling North, Kernan, Frank McClosky, and Bob Reynolds left the show.

In 1956 Kernan, McClosky, Jerry Collins and Randolph Calhoun purchased the Clyde Beatty Circus. The partners obtained the rights to the "Cole Bros." title and took the show out under the name "Clyde Beatty Cole Bros Circus". They later purchased the "Sells and Gray" and the "King Bros." circuses and Walter managed both. He remained co-owner of the shows until his death in 1963.

Walter Kernan and wife Bonnie
Click to Enlarge
Walter and wife Bonnie (Hunt) Kernan 1949
Mike Petrillo is on right.
Photo Courtesy of
Illinois State University
Milner Library


Back to our list of circus owners!
Return to the Show Owners Page!


  Copyright © 2013 Circuses and Sideshows Dot Com