Axel GautierElephant trainerGAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Axel...

DEATHS ELSEWHERE

May 07, 1993

GAINESVILLE, FLA. — Axel Gautier

Elephant trainer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Axel Gautier, 51, a leading trainer of elephants who had been a performer with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for 35 years, died Wednesday in Shands Hospital at the University of Florida.

One of the elephants with which he was working at the Ringling Elephant Farm in Wiliston, Fla., knocked him down and stepped on him, said Rodney Huey, a Ringling spokesman.

Long a featured performer and senior elephant trainer with Ringling, he had been appearing with the Blue Unit, one of the show's two traveling circuses, in Asheville, N.C., and in Baltimore and Washington last month.

He was making a brief visit to the Elephant Farm, where Ringling operates its elephant conservation and breeding program with a herd of 20 elephants.

Mr. Gautier's sons, Michael, 28, and Kevin, 23, had both been appearing in the show with their father and 18 elephants, and they performed after the accident on Wednesday night.

Born in 1942 in Breslau, Germany, which is now a part of Poland, he was descended from six generations of circus performers. His ancestors founded the Didier Gautier circus in France.

He joined the Greatest Show on Earth at the age of 15, worked as an apprentice with the elephant trainer Hugo Schmitt, and inherited the act when Schmitt retired in 1970.

Mr. Gautier, largely by voice command, trained elephants to stand on their heads, walk sidewards and lift circus performers

with their trunks and their mouths.

* Director Michael Gordon, 83, whose film credits included "Pillow Talk" and "Cyrano de Bergerac," died April 29 at a Los Angeles hospital. A Yale Drama School student, Mr. Gordon worked at the Group Theater in the 1930s on such productions as "Waiting for Lefty," "Golden Boy" and "Awake and Sing." Among his Broadway credits were "Home of the Brave," "Laura" and "The Gods Sit Back." Jose Ferrer won the best actor Oscar for "Cyrano," released in 1950. Blacklisted that decade, Mr. Gordon returned to Hollywood with "Pillow Talk," in which two people who can't stand each other fall in love via a party line. The 1959 production was the first to pair Rock Hudson and Doris Day and won an Oscar for its script.

* Rock guitarist Mick Ronson, 46, who played with David Bowie and Lou Reed, died of cancer Friday in London. Mr. Ronson first came into the public eye as guitarist and arranger for Mr. Bowie on classic albums such as "Hunky Dory," "Ziggy Stardust" and "Aladdin Sane" and at the height of the "glam rock" era played alongside the androgynous singer as part of his backup group The Spiders from Mars.

* Ronald Gow, 95, whose first hit play launched the theatrical career of his future wife Dame Wendy Hiller, died April 27 in

London.

* Leo J. Neuringer, 65, a physicist who helped pioneer a system for examining the human body that was more revealing than X-rays, died of cancer Tuesday in Boston.

* George Spota, 75, a writer, a producer and a talent manager, died of cancer April 30 at his home in Los Angeles. He conceived, created and produced "Will Rogers U.S.A.," a one-man show that opened on Broadway in 1974 with James Whitmore portraying the humorist.

* Dr. Morris H. Saffron, 88, a dermatologist who became an authority on colonial American medicine and archivist-historian of the New Jersey Medical Society, died of heart failure April 28 at his New York City home.

* Leo Srole, 84, a Columbia University social scientist whose research challenged widely held beliefs about mental health in American cities and rural areas, died May 1 in New York of a heart attack.

* Allen Grover, 92, former vice president of Time Inc. and longtime right-hand man to Time's founder, Henry Luce, died Monday at his home in New York.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.