Dec 31, 2007

Here Keller, Train This

by George Keller

In the 1950s a college professor from Bloomsburg, PA decided to follow his childhood dream of working in a circus an a lion tamer. A friend delivered a mountain lion via train to his home and he put it in his garage, over his wife's protests. His kids were delighted. Over the years Keller taught at the university in the mornings, and trained his lion in the afternoon, to a watchful audience of local kids. Before long he had accumulated a variety of big cats in his backyard, which he wintered in a car dealership building in town. At first Keller took his act, "Keller's Jungle Killers" on the road to local fairs and attractions, but eventually he achieved his dream of working with the Ringling Brother Barnum and Bailey circus, and later in Disneyland as well. Keller developed his own methods of working with the big cats, which used hand signals and background music. He claimed to never enter the ring with a chair or gun for protection. He also created acts that included a variety of cats: tigers, lions, leopards, etc. instead of just one species, which is uncommon. Full of fascinating experiences Here Keller, Train This! is very interesting and entertaining.

Rating: 4/5 ......... 246 pages, 1961

16 comments:

Dana said...

Sounds like a neat book. Isn't it wonderful that someone can follow their dreams.

Maggie said...

A companion for this book could be Zamba. the author also preferred non-violent training.

Happy New Year! ;D

Jeane said...

I read Modoc, Zamba is also on my list!

Anonymous said...

I am the great grand daughter of George Keller and I am so glad you liked Here Keller, Train This. Pop was a fascinating man and his life was truly surreal. I still have his gold show jackets he wore in the ring and his photographs with his kitties Toughy, King Leo, and Nosey. Our entire family is so proud of him to this day and with each new generation coming along, we tell them the stories of their incredible grandfather and his animals. I hope others enjoy his book as well.
Best wishes!

Jeane said...

Thank you for visiting my blog, great grand-daughter of the author! I only wish his book was still in print, I am looking for a copy for my personal library.

Anonymous said...

To the great-grand-daughter of George Keller,
Just wondering if you are related through George's second wife Ginny? We know of only 4 great
grand-daughters from his first marriage to Eleanor Evans, one of which is my daughter. We often wonder how much family he left behind from the second marriage. Hope to hear from you. Sue.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm related to George Keller through my mom's uncle Tim, but his real name is Charles Keller. Lives in Hilton, NY. My cousins always had a copy of this book on the shelf but now the copies are hard to come by.

Anonymous said...

I am chris keller, grand nephew of george keller , my grand dad was his brother. I met him once at a circus in Rochester, NY. As a kid I told buddies he had a lion for me. When I was a kid we had a red sateen jacket from his act that had "Professor Keller's Jungle Killers" on the back. My brothers and I fought to wear it. My Mom sent the jacket to the archive in Bloomsberg,PA

Jeane said...

It's wonderful that so many relatives and descendants of Keller are finding this post. Thank you all for the informative comments.

Anonymous said...

Chris Keller here:

I am trying to find a photo of a one of great uncles lion wagons with a lion in it I have a work trailer and I want to put the full size image on it. The ideal set of photos would be 4 views, front, back, left, and right. There will be a caption "In Memory Of George Keller" with dates. I have been searching the interweb for an image to convert to my use and so far have come up blank. I welcome comments and suggestions from relatives or other interested people. I am not on facebook.

chriskeller245@yahoo.com

Oediplex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I am betting that the Press Enterprise has these articles tucked away in their archives. They printed the entire book over a period of weeks.. I do believe... What ever the charge I am guessing that it will not be any where near the $120-$130. someone was quoted on Amazon.

Anonymous said...

I read the condensed Reader's Digest version of this story in 1961 when I 13 years old. Having seen lions 'in-the-wild' I was dumbfounded that anyone would stick his head in a lion's mouth.
One of my all-time favourite stories! I still have that copy of the Reader's Digest.

A comment my wife made today reminded me of this story. I 'Googled' the name 'Keller' and found this site. Wonderful we can do this so quickly!

Noel Otten, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
rosemary weston said...

my fourth grade teacher in boonton, n.j was jane M., the daughter of george keller and was my favorite teacher...she often talked about her father and remember her talking about a black panther that evidently lived in their home for a while. also my family is from lewisburg, pa. which is near bloomsburg, so i also heard stories of george and his cats...i would love to find a copy of his book. i don't know how he trained the animals he had, but now don't believe wild animals should be tamed or used for entertainment...things were different in those days. i am now 76 so that was a long time ago!

Jeane said...

Thank you for visiting my blog, Mrs. Weston. I know my copy of the book is a used one I found at a thrift store- not sure how hard a copy would be to find. He describes some of his training methods in the book, and even though it doesn't have a lot of detail, it was a very interesting read!