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A Circus Collector’s Connect-the-Dots Find: Paul Anka Promotional Postcards

by Larry Kellogg (03/08/11).

Paul Anka signed a contract with RCA Records in 1960 which would date this postcard in the early 1960s

Totally unexpected, there in the middle of a shoebox full of postcards, were several promotional postcards for pop singer Paul Anka. I was at an antique auction preview and the other browsers gathered around couldn’t understand why I was so excited. It’s doubtful anyone—other than me—understood the importance of my find and how a postcard of a teen idol could be of interest to a collector of circus memorabilia.

Clarification was in the text under the photo:

Paul Anka
Recording Exclusively for RCA-Victor
Personal Management – Irvin Feld

Who was Irvin Feld? On the card he was listed as Paul’s manager and he played a major role in Paul Anka’s early career. In the 1950s and early ’60s, Irvin Feld produced and promoted rock ʹnʹ roll shows featuring some of the biggest recording stars of the day. The circus connection comes in 1967, when Irvin and his brother, Israel Feld, bought Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. The New York Times dubbed Irvin Feld “The Man Who Saved the Circus.” Irvin’s son, Kenneth, took control when his father died in 1984.

The legend goes that Paul Anka sneaked backstage when the touring rock ʹnʹ roll show featuring Fats Domino, the Platters and Chuck Berry was in Anka’s hometown of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Irvin Feld caught him and told him to get out, but Anka made sure Irvin took down his name “because one day, Feld would have to hire him to be on one of his shows.”

Irvin Feld in the backyard of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

In a previous article about the Feld-rock ‘n’ roll connection, you’ll see a souvenir program for The Biggest Show of Stars of ʹ57, which featured Paul Anka, along with more than a dozen other stars. Anka was then part of Irvin’s touring shows. In time, Irvin would become his personal manager.

In 1959, Anka was touring with “The Winter Dance Party.” Some of the performers were to fly from Clear Lake, Iowa, to Fargo, N.D., but Irvin Feld told the young singer he wanted him to stay behind because he had promised Paul’s father he would watch out for him. That was “The Day Music Died.” It was the flight that took the life of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.

For more information about Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey and Irvin Feld’s role in The Greatest Show On Earth, check out my previous article”Circus Show Names and the Greatest Show Name of All Time.”

It all goes to show that you’ll never know what you’ll find digging through boxes of old postcards that nobody else seems interested in. I can never resist!

Larry Kellogg is a WorthPoint Worthologist specializing in circus memorabilia.

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