Randall Hellion was a noted stage magician and impresario that toured the vaudeville circuit in the late 1800s. Burnham and Sleighley recruited Randall for his strong and mesmerizing stage presence. They cast him as ringmaster and he became the face of Burnham and Sleighley’s new big top event.
Though no official records exist of his time with the circus, there are numerous eye witness accounts of his performances. His stage management techniques were rumored to border on the sadistic side. The only official record of Mr. Hellion is a photo taken the day after the “Burnem and Slayley Incident” that appeared in the fledgling St. Petersburg Times. The picture supposedly depicts the burning ruins of the circus with Burnham and Sleighley viewing the shrouded bodies of the riot victims. Sleighley is obviously distraught. However, there is a shadowy figure behind them. It is supposedly the only photo of Randall Hellion.
The picture itself has become a bit of a legend as it disappeared from the St. Petersburg Times’ archives. Reports of it surfacing from time to time is often marked by fire or other unnatural tragedy.
One noted owner of the picture was admitted to Fairchild's Sanatorium around 1920 for psychiatric care. He claimed to hear calliope music every time he walked by the picture. He also claimed to smell “brimstone and popcorn” if he stared at the picture for too long.
Timmy’s Note: It is unclear why Randall Hellion remains here in the cemetery and not Sleighley or Burnham. Perhaps he was the twisted genius behind the “Midway of the Macabre” and not the owners.
Researched by Dale Aden, Jr.