Earle Landry Reynolds was born Earle Landr Schoene on October 18, 1910 in Des Moines, Iowa, the only child in a family of trapeze artists called the Landr Troupe, or The Flying Landrys. Circus life kept the family on the road during his early years, and as Earle remembered it,
"my best friends were the fat lady, the man with no arms and the wild man of Borneo."
One day in August 1918 his father, William Schoene, was killed in a fall from the trapeze. Shortly thereafter his mother, Madeleine Landr, left the circus and returned home to Canada. It was not long before she remarried, this time to an old circus acquaintance from Louisiana named Louis Reynolds. Promising to leave show business forever, Louis adopted Earle as his son, and the family settled down in Mississippi, where the boy earned his diploma from Vicksburg High School in 1927.
In Earle's senior year, Louis was bed-ridden with a terminal illness, and financial responsibility for the family fell to Earle. Three years later, after Louis had died and the final bills were paid, Madeleine sent Earle off to college with half of their remaining assets and the promise of support after she found a job.