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Joseph Grimaldi invented the clown as we know today (a joy for some and deathly fear for other). He lived on the stage since his second year and left it everything that was his.
John Bill Ricketts brought circus from Europe to United States. He worked successfully for seven years until a misplaced candle brought down his business and he lost his money and life at sea.
Philip Astley combined two types of show: horse riding tricks and acrobatic acts into a type of show we today know as circus. He owned many small circuses and three large: in London, Paris and Dublin. Read more about the father of the modern circus.
Circus of Maxentius is the best preserved circus from time of ancient Rome. It was designed and built with great care but it didn't see much use. Because of that we can today see, in great detail, how ancient circuses looked like.