Born Merlin Hinkle in Mt. Carmel, PA on Nov. 13, 1905. Known in the circus world as Shorty Hinkle. In 1929 Shorty, not wanting to work in coal mines or silk mills as his family did, answered an ad in “The Billboard” magazine for clowns on the “All American Circus”. The Circus folded 2 months after Shorty joined leaving Shorty stranded. He then found work on the Downie Bros Circus for 15 dollars a week.