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Gillian Rodger

[Antonio]

(b New York, NY, 26 April 1833; d Elmhurst, NY, 26 Aug 1908). Circus performer and variety manager.

He was the third of six children of a Spanish immigrant barber, Antonio Pastor, and his American wife Cornelia Pastor (née Buckley). He was apprenticed to John Jay Nathans, a circus equestrian, in 1847, but gravitated towards a career as a clown. In the latter role he was expected to sing and dance as well as take part in comic minstrel and pantomime skits, which were a standard part of 19th-century circus entertainments.

By the end of the 1850s Pastor had moved into variety entertainment. It was not uncommon for variety theaters to hire circus acts, and Pastor found his first steady employment with Frank Rivers, a Philadelphia manager, and then with Robert Butler, the manager of the American Music Hall in Manhattan. Pastor worked with Butler for several seasons and established himself as a hugely popular performer with a diverse range of skills. A new theater licensing law in ...