Omar or Olmer Kingsley aka Ella Zoyara (1840 - April 3, 1879) was an American art rider who for years kept his true sex secret and appeared as a woman. In Moscow, a Count, believing himself to be in love, offered a large sum of money to be introduced to her. In Italy the king, Vittorio Emanuele II requested that she visit him. Ella did so but always accompanied by a female companion. Back in America, Omar married Sallie Stickney, a fellow circus rider. In Manila, several military officers accused Ella of not being a woman after she had refused one of them. This resulted in a brawl and Ella and the circus director were thrown into jail. Ella's 'true' sex was then discovered. Omar gave up his life as Ella to become a partner in the circus, but continued to give benefit performances.

He was born in St Louis, MO. Kingsley joined the entrepreneur Spencer Q. Stokes, who owned a circus in Philadelphia, at a young age, probably as young as 8 years old. Various rumours have been circulated about his origins, including the release of the version that he was a gypsy child and the only survivor after a shipwreck off Mexico. Another version was that he was an Indian girl and had acquired his riding skills from the Apaches, while another had him land in Mexico as the illegitimate daughter of a rich Turk, where he was supposed to have been sold as a slave. Stokes trained him as an art rider and had him perform under the stage name Ella Zoyora or Zoyara, often only as "Miss Ella"; The true family of Kingsley was concealed. Kingsley accompanied Stokes to Europe – he made his first appearance in Berlin in 1854 – and also to Moscow. Several competitors such as Kätchen Renz, Louise Loisset and Irma Monfroid competed with "Miss Ella", whose jumping series could not be beaten by balloons or paper-covered tires.

"Miss Ella" was at times a veritable cult: "Who hasn't heard of that "Miss" Ella hustle and bustle, whose sonic name roared through Europe at the beginning of the fifties of the last century, of the tamtam of that mysterious Ella Zoraya, who suddenly stood in front of the audience as a blood-young but furious rider who [...] almost ignited a tumult of enthusiasm. Kings and workers paid homage to her," was read in 1910 in The Artistism and its story, [3] and Stephanie Haerdle reports: "A veritable miss-Ella fashion arises. Miss Ella's hairstyle is imitated, her way of laying the curls is taken over. One wears the waist with a poseed trim embellishment embellishment." [4] But there were also more critical voices: "Since Barnum, the humbug has made infinite progress. It can already be distinguished in categories and its individual varieties," wrote the author of the theatre-plauding, volume 1, in 1860. The category "Art-Humbug" was conied directly after Kätchen Renz staged a kidnapping in order to draw attention to herself.[5] As a rule, however, Kingsley's performances were apparently enthusiastically celebrated: on several occasions, influential personalities fell in love with the supposed young woman; Kingsley and Stokes had to leave from Moscow in a hurry because a rejected lover threatened with murder. Vittorio Emanuele was also said to be one of the admirers of the false "Miss Ella". He left Kingsley a magnificent stallion for his performances. Kingsley later sold this horse in Spain when he was in trouble.[6]

At the beginning of the 1860s, due to the emerging male characteristics, the first doubts arose as to whether Zoyara was a woman at all. In April 1860, on the occasion of the performances at a Broadway theater called "Niblo's Garden" (the theater existed from 1823 to 1895), his real name appeared on the posters along with his female stage name. Six months later, when he married a circus worker named Sally Stickney (sister of Robert Theodore Stickney of Cincinnati, she was probably the daughter of Benjamin Stickney (1811-1860) and Eleanor Ducrow (1814-1850)), Zoyara disappeared from the announcements. This fueled the doubts. After his marriage to Stickney, he took turns in women's and men's clothes, now separated from Stokes, and capitalised on the rumours about his true gender, as well as the attraction that this question brought. [7][8][9] He also toured Australia and Asia. According to some press reports, Kingsley died of smallpox in East India in 1879, but according to other reports he lived four years longer and died in Cincinnati.

The sculptor Anton Lußmann created a bust of Kingsley in 1886, which bears the title "Miss Ella" on the Plinthe. The bronze artwork shows Kingsley wearing a jockey hat and curling hairstyle. On the neckline of his dress he wears replicas of a horseshoe and a riding rod. [10] The stage name "Miss Ella" was the model for the "Ella-Polka" (op. 160, 1855) by Johann Strauss (son).

Robert Theodore Stickney (1843-1928) married into a circus family, his first wife being Kate Virginia Robinson, the only daughter of "Uncle" John Robinson, the founder of the Robinson Circus. Their oldest son was Robert John Danville Stickney (1872-1941), a vaudeville performer and circus rider. Kate died in 1874, shortly after giving birth to a second son, Charles. In 1893 he married Emma Rezac, also a circus rider, and they were parents of Emily Stickney, who inherited her father's love for the ring and became widely known as a bare-back rider. Emily maintains a home at Miami, Fla., and it was here that Stickney had been accustomed to pass his winters since his retirement from the ring. His entire life, passed in the sawdust ring with nationally known circuses, was a checkered one, and it contained many interesting features which had an important bearing upon his later years.


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