The Greatest Show on Earth is a 1952 drama film set in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and starring Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, and Charlton Heston. The film was produced, directed, and narrated by Cecil B. DeMille, and won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Its storyline is supported by lavish production values, actual circus acts, and documentary, behind-the-rings looks at the massive logistics effort which made big top circuses possible.
The film stars Hutton and Wilde as trapeze artists competing for the center ring, and Heston as the circus manager running the show. James Stewart also stars as a mysterious clown who never removes his make-up, even between shows, while Dorothy Lamour and Gloria Grahame play supporting roles.
In addition to the film actors, the real Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Circus' 1951 troupe appears in the film, with its complement of 1400 people, hundreds of animals, and 60 carloads of equipment and tents. The actors learned their respective circus roles and participated in the acts.
Adjusted for inflation, the film's box office is among the highest-grossing films in the United States and Canada.
A television series, also called The