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The Great Carmo, 1881 - 1944



  • Existence: 1881 - 1944


Harry Cameron (1881-1944) aka The Great Carmo, was a multifaceted performer, magician and circus proprietor.

Harry was born in Melbourne, Australia on 8 November 1881, to Scottish emigrant parents. He developed a love for show business at a young age and started to develop his own act in juggling, balance and strongman routines.

After leaving school at fourteen, Harry took on various jobs while also practicing as a performer. His first full time job as a performer was a year long contract travelling with a Minstrel show. He later worked with Rowley’s Waxworks and Varieties and Ashton’s Circus. Eventually, he developed an act that combined juggling, feats of strength, quick-changes and impressions.

In 1903 Harry married his stage assistant, Nellie Lloyd, and they formed The Carmos. In 1907 they travelled to England with Professor George Heller’s show, where they settled down. They travelled a successful act around the English, French and American music hall and variety scene. Harry soon started to add magic tricks to his act and in 1911 he produced Carmo, The Master Phantasist act, a mixture of magic, equilibriums, juggling, acrobatics, tableaux and other features.

Nellie and Harry who had been separated since 1911, divorced in 1913 and Harry remarried performer Rose Pemberton aka Alma May. Harry continued developing his magic show, which included a menagerie of animals including a tiger, an elephant, a leopard, horses, snakes and a lion, while Alma took care of the business and the finances. By this time Harry was travelling his own show and troupe of performers as The Great Carmo.

In 1927 after Alma’s death, Harry set up his own travelling circus, which opened at Balmoral Gardens in Belfast the following year and at Olympia next to Bertram Mills during that season. Bertram Mills and Carmo’s Circus worked in partnership after that to launch Bertram Mills’ travelling circus together, which they did under The Great Camo’s Circus in 1929. Harry stopped traveling his circus the following year and retuned to his magic show but returned to the circus that winter with Carmo’s Colossal Circus.

In 1935, Harry started travelling a sideshow around the British fairgrounds with Tom Norman, while still travelling the now declining variety scene. In 1936 he created the Stott-Carmo Circus, but this venture was short lived as he finally abandoned his circus dreams in 1937. In 1938, Carmo had a small show at the Glasgow Empire Exhibition and the following year he returned to the fairground with Pat Collins.

During the Second World War Carmo and his partner Rita joined ENSA and entertained the forces with a magic revue titled Hey Preston.

In 1943 Harry married Rita Rogers, who by them had been part of his troupe and his companion for many years. Harry died on 1 August 1944.

Found in 10 Collections and/or Records:

Bertram Mills Circus Royal and Gala Performance Programmes, Great Carmo, Bostock and Wombwell's, and Bailey's Circus Programmes, c1900 - 1999

Reference code: 178K43.586-609
Scope and Contents

Bertram Mills Circus Royal and Gala Performance programmes, Great Carmo's Circus, Bostock and Wombwell's menagerie and Bailey's Circus programmes.

Dates: c1900 - 1999

Circus Friends Association Collection

Reference code: NFA0122
Scope and Contents

This collection consists of a large library of books and journals, as well as archival material including posters, programmes, photographs, films, handbills, research material, scrapbooks, original artwork and many other items of ephemera relating to British, Irish and European circuses

Dates: 1795 - 2020

Empire, Penge Programme, Monday 13 September and during the week, circa 1915

Reference code: 178K43.603
Scope and Contents

The Great Carmo, One Man Revue. Black and white photograph of Carmo wearing an evening suit within an oval shape on the front cover and black type on off white background, inside programme, on back cover, reward notice. Printed by Cullingford and Co., Printers, Colchester, 2p.p.

Dates: Monday 13 September and during the week, circa 1915

Monographs, Articles, Manuscripts and Research Material, c1795 - 1999

Reference code: 178B30
Scope and Contents

Compilation of monographs, articles, manuscripts and a range of research material about circus companies and performers in the United Kingdom, Europe and other parts of the world by various authors, the research was mainly compiled by Hal Thomas.

Dates: c1795 - 1999

Photographs and Postcards, c1800 - 1999

Reference code: 178C108
Scope and Contents

Black and white and colour photographs, negatives and photographic albums mainly containing images of British circus, circus performers, animals and circus personalities but also some menageries such as Bostock and Wombwell and other associated entertainments and non-British circuses taken by David Jamieson, Lindsay Temple, Den Curtis, Capt. Middleton, Jack Niblett and other photographers.

Dates: c1800 - 1999

Programmes, c1800 - 2019

Reference code: 178K43
Scope and Contents

A collection of mainly British and international circus programmes and some variety and music hall programmes containing circus acts.

Dates: c1800 - 2019

The Great Carmo Circus Advertising Material, c1900 - 1999

Reference code: 178I22.29
Scope and Contents

Advertising material including a booking card for Rita Carmo, two issues of The Carmo Courier and promotional magazine about Cramo's Colossal Circus in Blackpool, with black and white photographs and descriptions of acts.

Dates: c1900 - 1999

The Great Carmo Circus Photographs, c1930 - 1939

Reference code: 178C108.598-668
Scope and Contents

Black and white photographs and postcards of The Great Carmo Circus including many of The Great Carmo in different personas, Rita Carmo and circus scenes and performes.

Dates: c1930 - 1939

The Great Carmo Circus Research Material, c1900 - 1999

Reference code: 178B30.36
Scope and Contents

Photocopies and letter related to The Great Carmo Circus.

Dates: c1900 - 1999

Trade and Advertising Material, c1900 - 1999

Reference code: 178I22
Scope and Contents

A range of items of promotion and advertising from a range of circus companies and performers, including artistes' photographs with act descriptions used for seeking employment in circuses and pamphlets advertising independent performances and circus companies' literature and souvenirs for public distribution and promotion including Gerry Cottle's Circus, Belle Vue, Blackpool Tower, Bertram Mills Circus, Gandey's, Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey, Knie and many more.

Dates: c1900 - 1999