Tuesday, August 15, 2006

In Rehearsal, Out of Makeup: Soapy

Today's series of photos come from rehearsals for the 100th Anniversary Edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey and were taken in the Winter Quarters arena in Venice, soon to be demolished...

Duane "Uncle Soapy" Thorpe
(Bill Ballantine's portrait of Soapy, from his book CLOWN ALLEY, is of him wearing this spec costume)
___________________________________________________
THIS JUST IN!!!
This may not be a photo of Soapy after all as this message comes to us from ace Gold Unit clown Mitch Freddes...
"I don't think that is Uncle Soapy as he was not on the Blue Show at the time. As far as I know he was never on the Blue Unit. You are correct about the costume in Bill's book . I do remember seeing him in a costume similar to this one."
I've never seen a photo of Soapy out of makeup without his glasses (and the face isn't very clear) so can anyone else here confirm or deny this "Soapy Sighting"?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Soapy did one year on the Blue Unit, clowning and as assistant performance director. I seem to remember him saying he didn't get along with Charly Bauman and so Irvin Feld had him transfered back to the Red Unit.

I doubt that is him in the picture, I've seen other photo's of the clown in that costume and it was an unknown early Clown College graduate. I know Soapy did lead the clown band in similar wardrobe, and Bill Ballentine did alot of photo research on the units for program artwork, so it could have been him from a later period.

Great stuff...

Greg

Mr. Lee said...

Hey Greg, speaking of bands, Your spike Jones gag was great!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words...where do I send the 5 bucks?

-Greg

clownron said...

Please contact me off-list and I will tell you where to send the money.

Anonymous said...

Just to set the record straight - the picture in question is of the Red Unit at Winter Quarters, Venice, FLA - 1971 - 100th Anniversary. I remember the day the picture was taken. Bill Ballentine was there and the clown in question was Duane Thorpe's standin when they were setting up the "Spec" number. His name was Rex Hutchinson who fit in Soapy's costumes. Later he went to clown in Europe and died in an airplane accident in the late 1970's. Ken Barstow was a friend of Soapy's and the choreographer and he chose Rex to stand in for Soapy who was higher up the food chain. In the subsequent Spec Number during 1971 - Soapy was in drag in the costume of a Major Domo leading a clown band which exited out of the calliope that Rex is standing on and the floor would sink to the ground...
-Steve "Jocko" DiGiacomo Class of 1970 who roomed with Rex in New Orleans in 1972 after the 1971 season.... Jockmou@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Just to set the record straight - the picture in question is of the Red Unit at Winter Quarters, Venice, FLA - 1971 - 100th Anniversary. I remember the day the picture was taken. Bill Ballentine was there and the clown in question was Duane Thorpe's standin when they were setting up the "Spec" number. His name was Rex Hutchinson who fit in Soapy's costumes. Later he went to clown in Europe and died in an airplane accident in the late 1970's. Ken Barstow was a friend of Soapy's and the choreographer and he chose Rex to stand in for Soapy who was higher up the food chain. In the subsequent Spec Number during 1971 - Soapy was in drag in the costume of a Major Domo leading a clown band which exited out of the calliope that Rex is standing on and the floor would sink to the ground...
-Steve "Jocko" DiGiacomo Class of 1970 who roomed with Rex in New Orleans in 1972 after the 1971 season....Jockmou@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Correction: Ken Barstow was really Richard Barstow. - Jocko DiGiacomo

jerry digney said...

Duane was definitely on teh Blue in 1970--i was there for the tour and he was part of the alley along with Otto, Mark Anthony, Prince paul and the gang.

jerry digney said...

Duane was definitely with the Blue in 1970 along with Prince, Mark Anthony, Otto, etc. He also subbed for Harold Ronk.