Jack Stehlin founded Circus Theatricals in New York in 1983. Looking for a unique name, he decided to honor his family, who happen to have been very famous circus performers through much of the 20th century. His great-grandfather, (who's actual last name was Sullivan) was an Australian "take all comers" fighter at the turn of the century. Sullivan trained his nine children to be a traveling Australian circus act.
Known as the "The Colleano Family Circus," they eventually moved to the United States. Quickly signed on the the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the Colleanos performed center ring as tumblers, acrobats, and jugglers (and like every family, they even had a clown!)Stehlin's grandmother Kate "Colleano" was exceptionally strong. One of her specialties was balancing a ten foot ladder on the bottom of her bare feet. Her sisters would then climb the ladder and do acrobatic tricks on the top. Stehlin’s Aunt Winifred is in the Circus Hall of Fame for her unique trapeze act. Uncle Con Colleano was the most famous of all. Billed as "Con Colleano, Wizard of the Wire," Con is in the the Circus Hall of Fame and the Guinness Book of World Records for performing the first toe-to-toe forward somersault on a wire. His famous wire dancing and forward somersault are legendary.Jack Stehlin's mother Kitty O'Donnell "Kitty Colleano" was part of the second generation of Colleanos to join the famous circus act.
Performing under the moniker "The Juggling Colleanos," Kitty performed a juggling and tumbling act with her two brothers and two sisters. Besides traveling the United States, they were often seen on popular television programs such as the Ed Sullivan Show. Kitty officially retired from the circus shortly before Jack’s birth.