Mabel Stark holding a Baby Leopard

Mabel Stark holding a Baby Leopard

Mabel Stark (called the "Tiger Queen") was a friend of the submitter's great-grand uncle, James Leo Duffy ('Bert Leo"). I am not sure what circus she was performing with at the time these photographs were taken. Bert Leo performed as a clown in the following circuses: Al Barnes' Circus, John Robinson's Circus, and Sells-Floto Circus. Mabel probably worked for one of these circuses.

Photographs from the collection of Eileen McCummins Stickle, great-grand niece of James Leo Duffy.


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mabel stark photo

Would it be possible to use one or more of your photos of Mabel Stark for a book I am about to submit to the publisher. I have several from her latter years but none from her early days. Thanks, Jeff M

This book is a memoir of Enid Haney Barber

My name is Enid Haney Barber. I am a niece of Mabel Stark, (Mary Haynie). I have proof of this. Robert Hough's book is a novel. It is only loosely about Mabe Stark. He really trashed Aunt Mabel. There is another book which is the true autiobiography of Mabel Stark called "Hold That Tiger" by Mabel Stark and Gertrude Orr. It is a factual autiobiography. It can be found on ebay, but the price is exhorbitant unless you are a true collector. Not many copies are left. I have one, and my children have one, but we would not part with them for any amount of money.

Our family contacted Mr. Hough about the novel about Aunt Mabel, but he plainly states all through the book that it is a novel. It had been leased to someone to produce a movie, but the funding fell through, and that is not going to happen right now.

My book, "Cotton Fields" covers some items about Aunt Mabel, but not extensively.

Enid H. Barber

I remember Mabel in TO & at Jungleland

I posted this comment on another string about Mabel. Since most posts are years old, not sure what addresses are good anymore. I have read about "Hold That Tiger" but as you said, very hard to find and expensive when you do. Although searching for a connection to my grandfather (see below), even if none is ever found I will always enjoy studying Mabel thanks to memories of her and Jungleland while growing up in TO.

Our family moved from Southern CA to Thousand Oaks (TO) in 1958 when I was about seven years old. TO was just beginning to develop and not much was there yet besides Jungleland and the small town business that had existed for years. That was in the process of changing. I remember going to Jungleland and watching the shows, wild animals and Mabel (although I didn't know her name at the time) and the big cats. It was a fascinating place for a "city kid." My parents were apparently acquainted with Mabel and knew her around town although I never got specifics, at least not that I recall. As TO begin to grow, Mabel was a local celebrity early on and I recall she was honorary mayor or grand Marshall during one of the early Conejo Valley Days (as it later became known). Years later, long after Mabel was gone and the park had closed, but before it was torn down, I revisited as part of a Moorpark College course studying early animal parks/zoos. It was an eerie but fascinating experience wandering the old deserted park and getting behind the scenes (i.e. in back of the old arena where Mabel & her cats had performed). I think I still have some photos somewhere and will have to dig them out.

My mother, Brenda Steunenberg Richards, left a note in a copy of The Conejo Valley – Old and New Frontiers. It was on the page with a photo of Mabel holding a couple of tiger cubs. The note says : Mabel Stark, Julian Steunenberg’s 1st girlfriend either in Idaho or Washington. I don’t remember. Maybe at Walla Walla College?).” Unfortunately, my parents have passed away and one always makes discoveries and wishes more questions had been asked.

Mabel was an interesting character around TO and Jungleland in her later years and our first few years of living there. I have collected quite a bit of info on her but absolutely nothing that would cross paths with Julian/my gramps. No common cities while growing up. Mable did travel with the A.G. Barnes circus through Idaho, WA and make stops in Boise, Caldwell, etc., etc. Nothing I have seen would tie the two together during their youth in terms of locations, elem or high school although some of Mabel’s early life is a bit hazy. Interestingly, Julian and my grandma Francis and the children would move to Southern CA in the 1920’s and live in and around Venice Beach and not far from the A .G. Barnes Circus winter headquarters. However, I believe any connection would have been in their youth 1890's-1906 as children.

I would be happy to provide a scan of the note and the page in the book.

I will keep searching. Even without a connection, I find Mabel and history in the circus, at Jungleand and in TO to be fascinating. John

I too read the novel and was

I too read the novel and was fascinated by Mabel Starck. It would be such a treat to read the actual autobiography. Too bad it is no longer available.
In Orange, Texas, the historically prominent family is named Stark. I have wondered if there could be any relation.

The novel has Mabel travelling through Beaumont, which is my hometown. Maybe I will find out if this is true through further research.

Mabel Stark is sooo cool!

Mabel Stark is sooo cool! That is so neat that Mabel was your aunt! I am doing an essay on her for my history class and also portraying her at our 1920's dance in Longhorn Caverns on our field trip. I've been doing research on her for weeks but most of my sources contradict each other. My paper is due tomorrow and I was wondering if you could tell me which circuses she worked for and what years she joined them. Also, do you know how many times and who she married? I would really appreciate your help. Thanks!

Ms Barber, thank you for

Ms Barber, thank you for your comments. I was glad to see someone standing up for the truth vs. the fiction in Mr. Hough's book.

We are somewhat related. My grandmother, Lucy Mayes, was a cousin of Ms Stark. I think they were raised by some of the same relatives, but I think my grandma was a bit younger than Ms. Stark.

I too, have a copy of Hold That Tiger, which I won't part with. Recently I found a copy of a Big Little Book about her that had many pictures of her and her beloved tigers.

Phyllis Van

"Hold that Tiger"

Hello Ms. Barber:
I appreciated reading your posting about your Aunt, Mabel Stark.
I, too, just read the book by Robert Hough, and I though I am dismayed to learn that it's mostly fiction, I would love to find a book about the "real" Mabel & her amazing career, training circus tigers!In that era, I would imagine that she had many obstacles to overcome - she was undoubtably a very brave & strong woman!

Just a thought - It sounds as though Mr. Hough's book has sparked alot of interest; is there any possibility of a reprint of Mabel & Gertrude's book, "Hold that Tiger"? Reading about her life in her own words would eliminate the speculation brought about by Robert Hough's book.

Wishing you & yours the best... Joy

mabel stark

Dear Ms Barber,

I would like to be in touch with you about your aunt, Mabel Stark, and about your own book.

With best wishes,

Barb Jungr

I just finished the book by

I just finished the book by Robert Hough-"The Final Confession of
Mabel Stark". It was a very interesting read. I would like to find more
books about the circus life in the early 1920's on to present day, if

Thank you for your pictures of Mabel. The book had a few pictures,
but it is nice to be able to find more pictures of not only Mabel Stark,
but some other circus performers of the era.