LIVING Award-winning documentarian Leslie Zemeckis returns with a film about Mabel Stark, another fierce and fearless Hollywood trailblazer, writes Elyse Glickman
Elyse Glickman is US west coast editor of Lucire.
Mabel Stark was not afraid of the Hollywood jungle. By the time she arrived in Los Angeles, she had already survived her abusive family and childhood poverty in rural Kentucky to eventually forge a path in the entertainment industry.
After making her mark as stunt double for Mae West during Hollywood’s Golden Age, and making a living in a circus as an exotic dancer, Stark ultimately found her calling when she locked eyes with a 400 lb tiger. Though training big cats was a vocation reserved exclusively for men at that time, Stark clawed her way up the circus hierarchy and refused to let a little gender bias stop her.
In Mabel, Mabel, Tiger Trainer, writer, producer and director Leslie Zemeckis documented Stark’s ascent to superstar–folk heroine status as the most famous and highly regarded tiger trainer in the world. After collecting awards in the film festival circuit in recent months, the documentary will go into wide release in March 2018, with exclusive previews in Los Angeles and New York City.
‘When I first started researching Mabel Stark I thought it was going to be a story about courage,’ states Zemeckis. ‘I discovered however, that her story was really a love story. She loved her tigers so much she would give her life for them.’
Stark’s weapon of choice was using only positive reinforcement with her cats. At a time when most of her peers had considerably short careers, she continued training the exotic “stripes”, and during her 30-year career at Jungleland in Thousand Oaks, she transformed the suburban theme park into a world-famous southern California attraction.
Stark’s rise to fame was itself fraught with peril and some heartbreak. After multiple failed marriages, she increasingly took solace in the company of her cats. Although her body was broken and scarred from numerous attacks by her beloved tigers, it was the scars from her childhood that affected her most profoundly.
Zemeckis is joined by executive producer Robert Zemeckis, producers Jacqueline Levine and Sheri Hellard, associate producer Donnalee Austin, and the film’s narrator, Oscar-winning actress Melissa Leo. The documentary, released to coincide with Women’s History Month, continues Zemeckis’ career-long exploration of influential but lesser-known women of history. •
Express your burlesque
comments powered by Disqus
Related articles hand-picked by our editors
Gal Gadot makes waves
In another look back through our first 20 years, Jack Yan spoke with Gal Gadot in 2009. Back then she was beginning to make a splash in Hollywood, years before she was cast as today’s Wonder Woman. We had the foresight to put her on the cover
photographed by Andrew Matusik
hair by Jonathan Hanousek/Exclusive Artists
make-up by Elaine Offers/Exclusive Artists
styled by Cliff Hoppus
digital post by DigitalRetouch.net
photography assisted by Kirk Palmer
From issue 27 of Lucire
In another look back through our 20-year history, Jack Yan talks to Allie Gonino, the actress who found fame on The Lying Game, in this 2014 interview, and finds her role in The Red Road one with a greater underlying message that taps into her own desire to make our planet a better place
Photographed by Courtney Dailey
From issue 34 of Lucire
The art of Joanne Gair
Janie Duneas looks at a different side to Joanne Gair, internationally known and sought after for her make-up and body-painting work, on the eve of an exhibition opening of her paintings at Blikfang in Auckland
Order a print copy
Download the Ipad app
Download the Android app
Download the PDF edition
Watch Lucire TV
|Lucire on social networks
Lucire Facebook fan page
Lucire on Instagram
Lucire on Dailymotion
Lucire on Google Plus
Lucire on Twitter
Lucire on Tumblr
Lucire on Mastodon
Lucire on Pinterest
Lucire on Vkontakte
Selected team Instagram accounts Jack Yan | Summer Rayne Oakes | Sopheak Seng | Elyse Glickman | Jamie Dorman | Doug Rimington | Tanya Sooksombatisatian