Local circus family mixed it up with J.P. Patches, Jim Henson, Flying Wallendas, & 250-pound tassel-twirler
Color photo by Steve Shay
The Fuller family, long-time West Seattle residents, had a circus act for decades and worked with a variety of performers and a menagerie of animals. Top left, parents Elgin & Ginger with son Lee in the late '60's. Bottom right , Elgin kissed Ginger's clown nose for good luck before each performance. Top right, Lee & Ginger today, having fun with a long scarf from a magic act.
By Steve Shay
Elgin, Ginger, and son, Lee Fuller, long-time West Seattle residents, performed magic and clowning for a variety of traveling circuses, the Seattle and Spokane Worlds Fairs, and other venues. Numerous newspaper clippings, photos, and promotional flyers wedged carefully in Ginger's oversized keepsake album cover a lot of ground, featuring the striking couple and cute little tyke touring much of the West Coast, and caravanning in Canada in a converted '69 Ford van.
They performed with the Shrine Circus, the Pollack Circus, the still-active magician and author Stan Kramien, with his then One-Ring Circus Menagerie, the Duwayne Brothers Circus, Dr. Clarence W. 'Doc" Talbot and crooner and radio host, Smilin' Jack Smith. They opened for J.P. Patches and Gertrude at fairs in Green Lake and Westwood Village, also as clowns. Ginger said J.P. and Gertrude were always extremely gracious and welcomed them even though they, too, did a clown act.
A tight-knit trio, Elgin and Ginger plucked Lee out of school to perform with them in Vancouver for the DeWayne Brothers Circus. He got in trouble with both the Latona School in Wallingford where he'd been attending, and the Canadian authorities for truancy. The Fullers plea bargained with Latona School, Ginger recalled, and were told they could perform in lieu of punishment.
"Lee saw a lot of the scenery, the ocean, zoos, ghost towns, museums, so we didn't really figure he missed anything." said Ginger, a perky senior, evocative of a younger Betty White. Elgin, her husband of 57 years, passed away three years ago.
Lee, 46, an emcee and musician, formerly with the industrial Seattle band "Sex With Sarah", said he was always comfortable performing on stage. He did his first schtick by age one.
Ginger explained, "I made a bunny suit he wore with a top hat. He'd walk out on stage and his dad would make a rabbit come out of the top hat."