Frank T. "Frankie" Saluto
(1906 - 1982)
(1906 - 1982)
Born: Nov. 8 1906 in Massachusettes
Died: July 30, 1982 in Sarasota, Fla.
Exact height: 3' 10"
Known relatives: Lillian Saluto Cash, older sister
Frankie Saluto began clowning in 1928 and shortly afterwards joined the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He became known for his walkaround attempting to get a large live rabbit (the rabbit went through a long string of names before Saluto finally settled on "Buns") out of, and then back into, a large wooden box. His career highlights also include his uncanny minature Chaplin impersonation, playing the gas station attendant in Lou Jacobs' legendary car gag and being a member of the Ringling Giants, a midget baseball team that played exhibition games for circus publicity and charity causes.
In his will, John Ringling bequeathed a diamond stickpin to the one clown chosen "Most Popular" by his peers in Clown Alley. Saluto had the honor of winning that distinction, for which he was extremely proud.
Pictured frequently in circus programs as well as appearing in books on circus and clowning, he retired in 1974 at age 65 after 46 years of clowning.
One person's memories of a brush with Frankie...
I would like to inquire at this time about a photo that I have it was taken at the Ringling Bros, Barnum & Bailey Circus performance at New York City's, Madison Square Garden in 1965. I am featured in the photo, holding a mirror for a very friendly clown named Frankie Saluto. I clearly remember it because I was excited and a little afraid. I had never gotten so close to a clown before and I didn't realize until that moment that they really were just regular people under all that make-up. I think what really caught me by surprise was the fact that this clown was a midget and we were the same height; I was only 5 years old at the time!! I can still remember being introduced to him by my dad and the clown said his name was Frankie Saluto! My Dad, Mr. Louis Liotta, was a legendary N.Y. Post Photographer for 57 years and going to the circus each year was always a special treat and great memories of me and my dad. In those days we got to see the sideshow before the main circus events, ie, the skinny lady, the fat man, the man who swallowed fire, the snake man and up close and personal with all the animals! Wow, that was alot of excitement and fun when you are only 5 years old!! The photos are large black and whites and they are great photos of a great clown and friend, Frankie Saluto! - from the CHS message board