Otherwise Known As: Windbag (by Matriach Elephant)
Premiered in: Dumbo (1941)
Voiced By: Herman Bing
I’ll admit, I had planned on doing a segment about the Pink Elephants rather than the Ringmaster but given that even to this day, those oddly colored pachyderms still give me the heeby-jeebies… Yeah, so about the Ringmaster of Dumbo…
Though not widely recognized for it, the Ringmaster is one of the few Disney Villains who is not strictly a villain. Sure, nowadays how he runs his circus would get him thrown into jail faster than you can blink, and have more than a few dozen animal rights organizations after him, but everything he does he does for the betterment of the circus as a whole. Heck, he even “imprisoned” Dumbo’s mother, Mrs. Jumbo, only because he only saw her attacking kids without justification, something she did in fact have considering they were mocking her baby to the point of physical assault. Another example, he merely gave Dumbo over to the clowns to use for their, admittedly malicious, act only because Dumbo had screwed up what was to be the next major act of the circus. He could have done far worse considering Dumbo’s clumsiness caused the collapse of the tent (a disaster of epic proportions).
Though it can be argued that any of the human performers of the circus could serve as the Ringmaster’s “minions”, he doesn’t necessarily boss them around anymore than what can be expected from a ringmaster to his performers or employees. Heck, if anything, I’d say that they tend to push him around considering how much free reign those clowns had with Dumbo in their act… Sure it looks funny as illustrations but could you imagine any kind of circus act that involves such a scene as that, with or without animals?
Ultimately, the Ringmaster doesn’t even get a “comeuppance” as most villains do. Sure he gets a bit of humility served to him in the most humorous of fashions but overall, he simply promotes Dumbo for all that he is worth. He even goes so far as to not only take Mrs. Jumbo out of solitary confinement but gives both her and Dumbo their own train car. Though I’m not so certain if it was really his say or the train’s… Yeah, little known fact, the owner of the circus? The so-called Casey Junior? It’s the train. Official and everything but given that Dumbo’s ears are insured for a million a piece… yeah, nothing can surprise me in this movie.