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Circus Magnate John Ringling Buried 55 Years After His Death

June 5, 1991 GMT

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) _ Fifty-five years after his death, circus king John Ringling has been laid to rest. With him, his family buries a feud that left Ringling’s remains in a temporary vault for more than half a century.

Ringling, his wife, Mable, and sister Ida Ringling North were buried Tuesday in a private ceremony at the Ringling Museum of Art here.

The burial ends years of family fighting over Ringling’s final resting place and whether the three should be interred together in Sarasota, still the winter home of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ ″Greatest Show on Earth.″


A state appeals court ended the dispute last year by upholding a judge’s ruling that the three should be buried together on the museum grounds. That’s where Henry Ringling North, John’s nephew and Ida’s son, wanted them buried.

One side of the family, including two of Ringling’s grandnieces and a grandnephew, was willing to allow Ringling and his wife to be buried on the property. But they didn’t want Ida there because she had nothing to do with the circus.

The battle apparently had its roots in the early 1930s with a falling out between Ringling and nephews John Ringling North and Henry Ringling North, Ida’s sons.

Ringling disinherited the pair, but did not remove John Ringling North as executor of his will. Ringling died of pneumonia in 1936 and, after a long battle, control of his estate eventually went to the nephew.

In 1987, after his brother died, Henry Ringling North had himself legally appointed John Ringling’s next of kin and began his quest to have his mother and John and Mable buried on the museum grounds.

Henry North moved the Ringlings remains in 1987 from temporary crypts in Fairview, N.J., to crypts Port Charlotte, Fla. Ida’s remains had been stored in a Sarasota funeral home.