The Friends of the Bloomsburg University Library Association

proudly presents at 2:00 p.m., Sunday, October 31, 2010

in the Andruss Library Schweiker Room:

 

The Amazing Life of Bloomsburg's George Keller:
The World's Only College Professor/Wild Animal Trainer

George Keller with Leo and Regal, early 1940s.

Join University Archivist Robert Dunkelberger as he tells the story of George Keller (1897-1960), one of Bloomsburg's most famous and unusual residents.  A talented artist and teacher of students of all ages, he also lectured to many diverse groups; produced plays and motion pictures; created decorations for homecoming dances, May Days, and at Christmas times in Market Square; was responsible for the husky being named the school mascot; and collected and exhibited animals of all types, which he loved doing from an early age.

Keller grew up in Bloomsburg and graduated from the Columbia University Teachers College in 1921.  Returning home, he began a nearly 30-year career as a teacher of art to children in town and on campus, as well as to the normal school and college students.  He began raising huskies at his home near Turkey Hill, but in 1932 a friend shipped him a mountain lion and dared him to train it.  This experience spurred him on to turn his animal hobby into a profession, and beginning in 1937 he exhibited his growing collection of trained big cats and turned them into an act.  Starting with local fairs and picnics he expanded to carnivals and circuses, with his first big break the pier in Atlantic City in 1942.  After World War II he took long absences from the teachers college as he spent entire years on the road.  Following his final academic year of 1949-50 he made it his fulltime work, and in 1955 was one of the first shows at Disneyland, and in 1959 and 1960 he performed in Madison Square Garden with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.  Keller died in the ring from a heart attack in Corpus Christi, Texas on October 14, 1960, just weeks before his autobiography was due to be released.

The presentation will include many images of Keller's work and his animals, as well as rare film footage of his performances spanning the 1930s to the 1950s.  There will be a brief reception before the lecture to introduce members of the Library Friends and refreshments will be provided.  In fitting in with the holiday (Halloween) theme costumes are optional, possibly ones of your favorite big cat.  Also please feel free to visit the exhibit on George Keller and his life, found in front of the University Archives on the third floor of the Harvey A. Andruss Library.

 

For further information please contact Robert Dunkelberger at:

(570) 389-4210 or by email at rdunkelb@bloomu.edu


 

Updated 10/1/10