|Super Circus was the next best thing to actually being under the big top. From lively Ringmaster Claude Kirchner to wacky clowns Nicky, Cliffy and Scampy, to baton twirler Mary Hartline, the show brought the circus to the audience in an unprecedented way.
All the available acts of the era were booked on the show, including jugglers, acrobats, cyclists, divers, and many exotic animals. Children in the audience were even invited to step into the "ring" and participate in various competitions.
Kirchner, whose voice was already familiar as the off-camera announcer for Marx toy commercials, had been a real circus barker in the early 1930ís. In 1936, he left the circus to take a job with a Dallas radio station before coming to Chicago's WIND, where he announced ABC's Super Circus radio show, a contest program for children.
The show made an easy transition to television, since a circus, with all its animals, clowns, and aerobics, was indisputably better served by a visual media. Perhaps the biggest advantage of its new format, however, was the appearance of Mary Hartline.
Hartline drew in the audiences in a way that the acts of the circus, no matter how fascinating, never could. The platinum blonde girl in the majorette outfit was as much a sex symbol as one could be on a wholesome television show of the early 1950's.
After six years in Chicago, the show's producers decided to move the big top to New York, and with the move came some cast changes. Jerry Colonna replaced Kirchner, and "Miss Florida," Sandy Wirth, replaced Mary Hartline. With the original cast gone, the tent poles came down for the last time after just one more year.