Irvin Feld

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Irvin Feld
Born(1918-04-19)April 19, 1918
DiedSeptember 6, 1984(1984-09-06) (aged 66)
Known forOwner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Founder of Feld Entertainment
SpouseAdele Schwartz Feld
Children Kenneth Jeffrey Feld
Irma Feld
Fannie Feld (sister)
Zelda Feld Fribush (sister)
Doris Feld Goldstein (sister)
Freda Miriam Feld Arenson (sister)

Irvin Feld (April 19, 1918 – September 6, 1984) was a business entrepreneur who built a chain of record stores, promoted rock groups, produced concerts involving some of the biggest names in popular music. He was also the head of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and founder of Feld Entertainment. [1] He was a music promoter who is credited with discovering Paul Anka.


Feld was born on April 19, 1918 in Hagerstown, Maryland to Russian-Jewish immigrants. [2] Following high school, in 1938 he and his brother opened a drugstore on Seventh Street NW in Washington DC. Records proved big-sellers at the store. He later opened Super Music City record stores, and eventually branched out into producing both his own records and his own live concerts. [3] After ten years as one of several national promoters for the Ringling Circus, Feld, along with his brother Israel Feld and Houston Judge Roy Hofheinz, bought the circus on November 11, 1967, for $8 million. [1] [4] In 1968, he began the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. He sold the circus to Mattel in 1971 for $50 million in Mattel stock. He bought it back from Mattel in 1982 for $22.8 million. [4]

Feld died on September 6, 1984, at age 66 in Venice, Florida. [5] [6] [7]

Personal life and legacy

In 1946, he married Adele Feld. In 1958 she committed suicide. [8] The circus passed to his son Kenneth Feld, who had joined the company in 1970. In 1987, he was inducted into the International Circus Hall of Fame. [9]


  1. ^ a b "Feld Stewardship". Feld Entertainment. Archived from the original on November 4, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-15. On November 11, 1967, his dream became reality as the Feld family purchased Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey from John Ringling North.
  2. ^ Richard Leiby. (March 27, 2009). "Kenneth and Karen Feld's Sibling Rivalry Is Headed to Court". Washington Post.
  3. ^ Weil, Martin. "American Impresario Irvin Feld Dies". Washington Post. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Feld Family Buys Ringling Bros". Associated Press in New York Times. March 19, 1982. Retrieved 2008-07-20. Mattel Inc. said that it had sold Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows Inc. for $22.8 million to a family that had owned the circus and has been in its management for 26 years. Two members of the family, Irvin Feld and his son, Kenneth, said that the deal included the circus, Ice Follies, Holiday on Ice and the new Walt Disney's World on Ice. The transaction also includes a Las Vegas nightclub act called Beyond Belief. The acquisition involves more than 1,200 performers and employees, 500 circus animals and 98 railroad cars. Irvin Feld was a record and music promoter and music store chain owner before becoming involved with the circus in 1956. In 1967, he and a brother acquired the company's total assets from the Ringling and North families for $8 million. Two years later, the circus became a publicly held corporation, and in 1971 the company was sold to Mattel for $50 million in stock.
  5. ^ "Irvin Feld, Owner of Ringling Bros. Circus, Dies". Hartford Courant. September 7, 1984. Retrieved 2008-07-20. Irvin Feld, once hailed as the "greatest showman on earth" and the owner, chairman and producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, died here Thursday. He was 66.
  6. ^ "American Impresario Irvin Feld Dies; Was Owner of Ringling Bros. Circus". Washington Post. September 7, 1984. Retrieved 2008-07-20. Irvin Feld, 66, the son of East European immigrants who grew up to be a major American impresario and an heir in spirit to the legendary P.T. Barnum as the owner and operator of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, died yesterday in a Venice, Fla., hospital.
  7. ^ "The Call of the Circus". New York Times. August 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-04. My grandfather Irvin Feld was a promoter. He bought Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1967. My father, Kenneth, joined the company, now Feld Entertainment, in 1970 and is C.E.O.
  8. ^ People: "'Lord of the Rings' Irvin Feld Has Made a Fading Circus the Greatest Show on Earth Again" By Dolly Langdon May 12, 1980
  9. ^ "International Circus Hall of Fame inductees". International Circus Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2008-08-04.