Stunning never before seen pics of the American circus in its 1940s heyday

A SERIES of stunning unseen pictures capture the American circus and actors during its 1940s heyday.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, known as The Greatest Show on Earth wowed the world for decades with daring tricks, acrobats and stunts.

The group started as two separate entities in 1871 before joining forces in 1919 and together put on shows for decades before calling the final curtain in 2017.

Photographer Charles Weever Cushman from Indiana, followed the troupe in the late 1940s.

He captured the daring actors, their training, and colourful costumes during the troupe's Chicago tour.

Using a Kodachrome, he collected a massive library of around 14,500 snaps.

Mr Cushman captured Clayton and Rose Behee, known as the 'Flying Behees', said to be the greatest flying trapeze act in the world at the time.

And the talented photographer even captured the most famous hand balancer Unus mid action.

One cool shot shows the actor, born Franz Furtner, balancing upside down on top of a ball.

In another hair-raising photo, a trapeze walker was pictured practising walking along the tight rope that was attached to the circus tent.

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