Filmmaker Leslie Zemeckis Launches New Documentary Featuring Mabel Stark, the World’s First Female Tiger Trainer

Mabel Stark Official Movie Poster

by Nicole Muj

Award-winning filmmaker Leslie Zemeckis previews her latest documentary “Mabel, Mabel, Tiger Trainer” in Los Angeles on March 8 – International Women’s Day – to coincide with Women’s History Month. The feature-length documentary, distributed by Cinema Libre Studios, tells the tale of an abused Mabel Stark who left home and eventually became the first woman in the world to train tigers.

From Leslie’s best-selling book about Lili St. Cyr, history’s most legendary burlesque artist, to her award-winning documentary about Siamese twin superstars in “Behind the Burly Q,” Leslie has been featuring inspiring and misunderstood women for years, and her newest project continues Leslie’s career-long exploration of influential but lesser-known women of history.

“Mabel, Mabel, Tiger Trainer” depicts Mabel’s remarkable story through rare footage and stills dating back to the early 1900s, along with interviews from family members and proteges. Narrated by Oscar-winning actress Melissa Leo, the team behind “Mabel” includes husband Robert Zemeckis as the film’s executive producer, along with producers Jacqueline Levine and Sheri Hellard, and associate producer Donnalee Austin.

The film reveals Mabel’s fascinating career, from dangerous stunts for Mae West, to entertaining audiences as a sexy cooch dancer in the circus. But it was the day Mabel locked eyes with a 400-pound cat that she found her true calling. In that moment Mabel knew she wanted to train tigers, a talent reserved entirely for men, and something she was told no woman could ever do!

“When I first started researching Mabel Stark I thought it was going to be a story about courage,” stated Zemeckis. “What I discovered was that her story was really a love story. She loved her tigers so much she would give her life for them.

For more details on the Los Angeles screening this March, visit



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