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Mabel, Mabel, Tiger Trainer (2018)

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A story of the world's first female tiger trainer who claimed her love for her tigers was so great she wanted to die in the ring.


Leslie Zemeckis


Leslie Zemeckis
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Melissa Leo ... Narrator
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Linda Barber ... Herself - Niece
Janet M. Davis Janet M. Davis ... Herself - Author
Roger Smith Roger Smith ... Himself - Trainer
Trudy Strong Trudy Strong ... Herself - Trainer
Patricia White Patricia White ... Herself - Trainer


Raised in poverty in Kentucky, Mabel Stark joined the circus in 1911 and became the first woman to train tigers, earning the center ring despite being told that women couldn't work the big cats. In a 57-year career, she headlined shows with Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey, survived multiple maulings and marriages, starred in Hollywood movies, and managed up to 20 cats by forming intimate relationships with each, rather than using the whip. Her life ended tragically just outside of Jungleland in Thousand Oaks, CA, and her legacy and the golden era of the American circus is recounted by former animal trailers, performers and historian Janet Davis, with Mabel's voice, from her memoir "Hold That Tiger", provided by Oscar ®-winner Melissa Leo. MABEL, MABEL, TIGER TRAINER is written, produced and directed by Leslie Zemeckis (BEHIND THE BURLY Q, BOUND BY FLESH) and produced by Sheri Hellard, Jacqueline Levine and Robert Zemeckis.

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

10 April 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mabel, Mabel, Tiger Trainer See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mistress Inc. See more »
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User Reviews

Fascinating, Powerful, Exciting, Exquisite storytelling by Leslie Zemeckis
7 February 2018 | by swissmiss-67697See all my reviews

This fascinating and powerful story about Mabel Stark's life, one of the first women in the world spending her life as a Tiger trainer in the 1920s had me intrigued from the beginning to the end. Her Passionate journey and devotion for her Tigers is so exquisitely told by Filmmaker Leslie Zemeckis. I highly recommend this must see documentary !

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