P. T. Barnum was an American showman, businessman and politician remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes (also called "humbugs") and founding the Barnum & Bailey Circus. He was also an author, publisher, politician, and philanthropist. While controversial by today's standards, much of what he did was ground-breaking in terms of promotion and public relations.
He promoted human curiosities such as the Fiji mermaid and General Tom Thumb. However, it was the circus business, begun when he was 60 years old, was the source of much of his enduring fame. He established "P.T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome" in 1870, a traveling circus, menagerie and museum of "freaks" that adopted many names over the years.
In this episode, Alex and Kelly explore whether his exploitation of people with disabilities was abhorrent or simply "show business" during that time. We also look at the way in which P. T. Barnum, despite being alive in the nineteenth century, shaped entertainment in the twenty-first century.
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