People: Mar. 24, 1986

"The Greatest Show on Earth" has drawn acts from everywhere on the globe, except the People's Republic of China. But this year the "plentitudes of pachyderm precision" at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have been joined by "a charismatic, candescent constellation of allegiant acrobatics," by which the circus shills mean the 15-member Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe. The booking took nearly 14 years of talks with the Peking government. To make their guests comfortable, the circus stocked up on rice "by the major bagful," built a special train car with a Chinese-style kitchen and put in a VCR on which...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!