Local retiree once trained, rode elephants. Betty Jean Beck was a teenager when she ran away from home to join the circus back in 1942

Betty Jean Beck holds one of two dogs while sitting on her bed where she spends a great deal of time.
Betty Jean Beck holds one of two dogs while sitting on her bed where she spends a great deal of time.

2008-02-28 - Pinellas park, United States , THOMAS MICHALSKI

Betty Jean Beck was 16 years old in 1942 when she ran away with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. She did everything from riding and training elephants to driving chariots. She even did some clowning thanks to her friend and world renown clown, Emmett Kelly who gained fame playing Weary Willie. “Elephants are just big puppy dogs,” Beck said. “They really are very gentle animals.” There are many tricks to riding elephants. When getting off of one, for example, a rider mu...

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