Cool Dude: Lion Tamer

Born in Philadelphia in 1866, Captain Jack Bonavita started out as a circus acrobat. Later he became a world famous animal trainer and lion tamer, known for his skill and daring. He appeared in the arena with 27 lions, something no one had ever attempted. He did, however, lose an arm when the lion ‘Baltimore’ clawed his hand, which later became infected. This happened at Dreamland, an amusement park in Coney Island where he had his own animal show.

Muscular, mustachioed, dressed in military attire and boots, he was a hit with the ladies too. In 1905 he even married a princess, Mercy d’Argenteau de Montglyon of Belgium after they met at the Moulin Rouge. From 1913 -1917 Jack Bonavita worked as a stuntman, director, and actor, he always co-starred wild animals in his silent films.

He died in March 1917, after becoming fatally wounded by a polar bear when the animal he was training attacked him.