Sharkey: When Sea Lions Were Stars of Show Business (1907-1958)

Product Details
Excelsior Editions/State University of New York Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.74 inches | 1.07 pounds

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About the Author
Gary Bohan Jr. hails from Kingston, New York, where Sharkey was trained and is the great-grandson of Sharkey's trainer, Mark Huling. Mr. Bohan also plays trumpet and has performed with the Klezmer Conservatory Band, Joel Grey, and Itzhak Perlman.
"...Sharkey is a solid popular history book that brings a family's history of sea lion training to life for the reader ... the book engagingly details the history of sea lion entertainment and prompts questions about how we can use this microhistory to understand larger themes in the history of animal-human relations." -- H-Net Reviews (H-Environment)

"This is an informative book about a time in America before television when live entertainment was so popular and when this lovable seal traveled all around the country to entertain the nation. You will fall in love with this talented seal and admire all the work and care put in by his trainer." -- Albany Times Union

"With Sharkey, Bohan awakens our collective nostalgia for a bygone era of live entertainment while reclaiming his great-grandfather's seal training legacy. It's impossible to read Sharkey without falling in love with that adorable sea lion and wishing you could watch him perform on stage with your own eyes." -- Matthew Billy, Podcast Producer, Vox Media

"Nothing says 'vaudeville' so much as a trained seal act. If the reason why is not self-evident to you, Gary Bohan's incisive new book will put you right, for it's not just a biography of showbiz's most famous sea lion, but a portrait of an entire family of successful animal trainers, the Hulings, and their delightful doings over the decades, from the days of tented circuses and vaudeville, to the time of The Ed Sullivan Show. While everyone from Milton Berle to Kitty Carlisle cherished memories of appearing on bills with Sharkey, Bohan's portrait of the old-school business universe overall and the place of animal acts within it, is the real attraction here. A valuable look at a neglected lane in entertainment history." -- Trav S.D., author of No Applause--Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous

"Vaudeville--a lost world--where animals performed on equal terms with humans, none more so than the intelligent seals Charlie and Sharkey. Their remarkable stories, and those of their ingenious human trainers, bookend the peak and decline of vaudeville. Along the way they encounter numerous celebrities and dramatic events around the world." -- Bill Egan, author of Florence Mills: Harlem Jazz Queen

"What an absolute joy to read this book! With Gary Bohan's words, I felt like I was transported to the 1940s and '50s with a front row seat to the sensational Sharkey! The story about Sharkey in the Harvard dorm room had me rolling! Through the years, one thing has clearly remained unchanged; the ability of sea lions to capture the hearts of trainers and audiences." -- Jennifer Rant, longtime professional senior sea lion trainer

"A beautifully written and impeccably researched tale of a bygone era when a fantastically trained seal--with his own unique sense of humor--traveled the country, stole the show on Broadway, appeared in movies and on television, and grabbed worldwide headlines. Bohan's book takes you on a journey through twentieth century history as a performing seal and his pals and dedicated trainers negotiate the Depression, two World Wars, new forms of entertainment, and changing fads, all the while capturing the hearts of those who witnessed them in action." -- Karen Berelowitz, Producer and Studio Manager at Blauweiss Media and coauthor of The Story of Historic Kingston: Featuring 950 Images and Connections to the Catskills & New York City