History of Circus Williams 1960-1968
During a tour through Belgium Alfons Williams was killed in a car accident on June 21st 1960. Carola Williams' daughter Jeanette and adoptive son Günther Gebel, now also carrying the Williams name, gave her strength in these days. Jeanette and Günther got married in 1961. The marriage ended after six years but Günther Gebel-Williams stayed with the show.
From 1962 until 1966 the circus toured with the Spanish circus owners Castilla and Feijo as “Spanischer National-Circus” (Spanish National Circus). The show featured excellent artistic acts, as well as exquisite animal acts and was awarded with the "Circus Oscar" in 1962 by the “Fédération Internationale du Cirque” as the world's best program.
Carola Williams toured in the winter of 1967 with the Italian circus family Togni as Circo di Berlino in Italy.
Starting in 1967 the circus traveled under the name “Circus Williams” again. Günther Gebel-Williams was honored with the prestigious “Ernst-Renz-Plakette” by the Association of German Circus Friends the same year.
Following the 1968 season, the entire animal acts were leased out to Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey and left Hamburg, Germany on November 3rd 1968 on the Swedish ship “Atlantic Saga” for America. Jeanette Williams, her cousin Henry Schroer and Günther Gebel-Williams left Germany towards the New World along with 17 elephants, 9 tigers, 25 horses and 30 other artists and workers.
Circus Williams stopped its operations in Germany and Western Germany lost one of its leading circus shows.
The Williams material laid the foundation for Ringling’s Red Unit which successfully toured the entire United States. Günther Gebel-Williams achieved superstar status with his spectacular animal acts in the USA. The initial five year contract was extended by another five years and eventually became open-ended.
The name Williams reappeared in 1976 when Franz Althoff, a nephew of Carola Williams, started his own Circus Williams-Althoff. The circus stopped operations in 1996 and travelled as "Zauberwald", a horse musical, for a couple of years.
Carola Williams died December 11th 1987 in her beloved hometown Cologne.
Jeanette Williams remained in the USA and worked several years for Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey. From 1991 to 1993 she operated her own show, the "German National Circus Williams Althoff" in the United States.
She started the first white tiger and white lion breeding program in Germany, at the Grosswild Safari Park Stukenbrock and was instrumental for the largest cheetah breeding program in the USA. She owns a company called Sarasota Party and Events Planning and rents and sells Big Tops/Circus tents in Sarasota, Florida.
Jeanette Williams' daughter Caroline came to the States with her mother when she was five months old. She is nowadays a well recognized and distinguished equestrian trainer. She was trained in Warendorf, Germany and worked at several circuses and shows in the USA and Germany over the past years.
With the birth of Dominick Williams on September 1st 2007 the Williams bloodline will be carried into the 21st century.