Saturday, July 01, 2006

Paul Jung Sugar Smacks

Some examples from Paul Jung's tenure as the mascot for Kellogg's Sugar Smacks. Various clowns were used on the boxes from 1953 to 1956. The first two were Lou Jacobs and Paul Jung from 1953 through 1954. Then Cliff "Cliffy" Sobier from ABC-TV's Super Circus took over for 1955 and the last to be used was Charlie Bell in 1956. It was then that Kellogg's replaced them all with a seal named Smaxey.

It would have been nice if the series had continued and circus clowns had a place to be recognized the way athletes do on boxes of Wheaties.

Charlie Bell Sugar Smacks

Charlie Bell as the fourth (and final) clown featured on boxes of Kellogg's Sugar Smacks. I'm sure the excitement from Cecil B. DeMille's the Greatest Show on Earth had subsided and shows like Super Circus and Big Top were winding down so it was time for Kellogg's to move on to something a seal in a sailor sell Sugar Smacks. When I was growing up their mascot was a frog named "Dig 'Em". Makes about as much sense as a circus clown or a seal in a sailor suit I guess..

An extremely nice and very thoughtful note (and some more information on Charlie Bell's family) from CC grad and former Ringling road clown John Darragh...

This is a Sincere compliment , for the Beautiful work you've thus far displayed via your Blog. There is no doubt in my mind, that you will do your best to enhance this Blog dedicated to the Most Ancient and Honorable Art Form, to the fullest degree.

Sadly as time moves on, the Art of professional Clowning is further diminished and bit by bit the Men and Women who were at the forefront of our craft are sadly forgotten. Thank you for keeping the memories and spirit of those who travelled before us, alive and well.
Thank you also for providing the story regarding Marceline and as well Charlie Bell.

I had the Great fortune to join the show just in time to meet and eventually befriend Charlie's daughter Charlotte and Grand daughter Tessi (Dancer/Showgirl- Red show 81, 82- Sells Floto 84. I think she may have at one time married into the famous Knock Circus Dynasty, by marrying Joe Bauer jr. son of the legendary fearless sway pole artiste Joe Bauer, but I'm not certain. I lost contact with her many years ago, Unfortunately. The Humor, Charm and Talent of Charlie Bell certainly traveled through the blood line. His other Grand daughter Tosca was a headline aerialist attraction at the time I joined the show, but was married to Gunther's ex right hand man Henri Schroer at the time, so I never really got the chance to know her.

Frank and Charlotte's son was also an aerialist and trapeze flyer, performing most notably in the late sixties, early seventies with the likes of Keith Anderson and the various flying troupes that came out of Cape Town, South Africa during that period of time.In the obituary you posted for Charlie Bell, his Daughter's name is incorrectly spelt.Her marriage name is Kora, not Korak. I know for some it means nothing, but for others it makes a World of difference.

In closing, I would just like to say Once Again, Thank You- you're doing a Great job, and do so Hope you'll be able to maintain your Blog on a continuous basis. I give you a lot of creditfor creating this Blog, and I'm sure I'm not alone in my Thankfulness for someone to finally come forward and provide a site that is Seriously devoted to the Silliness of our craft and at the same time Very Educational and Extremely Entertaining. Sincerely, John Darragh

Friday, June 30, 2006

Bumpsy Without Makeup

A very rare treat from the Bill Strong Collection, George "Bumpsy Anthony" Hulme without makeup.

Billie Burke, Harold Simmons and ?

From Bill Strong...

These were sent to me by a friend, Paul Creason, who was on the Gil Gray Circus with us in the early '60's. They must have been taken either before we came in '60, or in '64, after we were gone, because I don't remember the 3rd clown. Paul said his name was Charlie Lewis, and he did a Clown Cop. The other two of course are Billie Burke & Harold Simmons. - Bill

Visit Bill's ebay store at...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lou Jacobs

Lou. The best. Ever.

Bozo and Burch

A photo from the Mike Martin collection...

Mike Martin back when he played Bozo the Clown live on-air six days a week at the Cincinatti Shrine Circus with Ernie "Blinko" Burch in the late 60s/early 70s.

Marceline Orbes

Born in Saragossa Spain in 1875 he began clowning in circuses, mastering his craft and working his way up to playing the London Hippodrome for five straight years.

He came to this country under the management of Thomson & Dundy bolster the lineup at the opening of the New York Hippodrome in 1905 where he was partnered with Frank "Slivers" Oakley. He played the NY Hippodrome successfully for nine consectutive seasons then he went back to circus clowning, just another Alley clown doing walkarounds with Ringling. He returned to the Hippodrome in 1920 but silent film comedy had changed the public's taste in clowning and Marceline had a hard time entertaining audiences who had adored him just a few short years before.

Like his former partner, he died alone and broken, committing suicide in 1927. The largest wreath on his casket came from Charlie Chaplin who had performed onstage with him as a small child.


From Time magazine November 14, 1927...

Essie Goodman, maid in a smallish Manhattan hotel, at two o'clock in the afternoon, tiptoed into a room, followed by the manager and a policeman. The room was in some disorder. Photographs were littered across the bed; a few had slid down to the floor. A picture of a girl was propped up on a chair near the window and in the corner three theatrical costumes were heaped on top of a trunk. A man was kneeling by the bed, his hands stiffly and desperately twisted together, his head pushed down against his arms. He did not say anything when the three people came into the room. The policeman touched him, shook him a little, then saw the smear of blood that ran down his cheek from a hole in his temple. "I guess he bumped himself off," said the policeman, "I'll have to have his name." "Orbes," the manager told him, "Marceline Orbes."

Twenty years ago the policeman would not have had to ask how to spell "Marceline." He would have been accustomed to seeing it in big shiny letters over the entrance to the Hippodrome, biggest Manhattan theatre. The little, inexpressive brown face with the smear of blood would have reminded him of another face, with the same features, set in a foolish pointed smile. He would have recognized the dusty, madly tailored evening clothes that Marceline had taken out of his trunk before he killed himself, as the uniform of the most famous clown since the days of Grimaldi.

According to legend, in 1876, aged three, Marceline, perched on the shoulder of an old clown, entered a bullfight arena where his helpless sprawlings made him funny. Marceline preferred to say that he had run away from the tailor to whom he had been apprenticed, crawled under a circus tent and fallen asleep. Then an old clown had saved him from the crouching lion against whose cage he had dozed and taught him the astonishing art of making people laugh. All the legends made Marceline a Spaniard, but he talked with a tight cockney whine in his voice.

In 1905, already famous after a five years' run in London, Marceline came to New York. The people who saw him during the nine years he played at the Hippodrome, damaged his reputation by trying to tell their friends how funny he was. "He just comes out," they said. "He sort of comes out on the stage and moves around ... he looks so funny . . . and his shoes, well they look like broken coal shovels . . . you have to see his face ... it makes you laugh. . . ." Marceline hated to be called a clown in those days. Clowns are the silly fellows in the circus who get guffaws by contorting their inane rubber faces, by painting big spots on their cheeks and putting putty on their noses. Marceline was a droll, or better still, an

"august;" he wore, not pantaloons, but a baggy tailcoat; he could make a thousand people roar with laughter by saying nothing, merely looking at his left foot.

In 1912, Slivers Oakley, his partner, killed himself. When Marceline came back to the Hippodrome in 1915 after a trip abroad, his crowds were already beginning to prefer the silent flutter of faces on a screen to the gayeties of a nimble droll. A mocking shadow ran after him for the next few years, whispering an insult in his ear every time the crowds at Ringling's sat silent when he twisted an eyebrow at them. By 1920, he used to pick up dollars by coming in at business men's dinners and trying to make the solemn faces crack.
All his money was gone, but he still gave his wife, who had left him, $35 every month. At the last he pawned his ring for $15. . . .

In his hotel room he got out the photographs that had been taken of him years ago. Marceline himself had to smile a little at those merry mocking faces. Then, at four o'clock in the morning, he reached for his revolver and shot himself. His body slumped down by the bed on which the photographs were spread out; when Essie Goodman came in the first time, she went out again very quietly, because she thought he was praying.


This from the "Dark Humor" website...


In the days before video games and pornography on the "information superhighway," people were often entertained by clowns.

Yes, gaily painted idiotic creatures in funny clothes with very little on their minds and no talent...would come into a theater to see clowns.

One of the greatest clowns was Marceline Orbes, who left our world on November 5, 1927.

As Mr. Smith, chronicler of chronic comics, reports in his "Who's Who in Comedy," tales of "defeated, broken-hearted "Pagliacci" clowns may have been widespread in literature, but it was the tragic reality of Marceline...Not confined to the circus, Marceline played the finest venues including five years at England's Hippodrome...One critic wrote of his stage act, 'part of his appeal lay in a bewildered expression, as though life puzzled him. He picked something up only to drop it. He sought to help others, but always got in the way. Children, and adults too, howled and rocked in their seats with laughter as Marceline grew entangled in the rugs...meanwhile dropping trays of dishes.'

"Just ten years later, the same Marceline played the Hippodrome in 1915 to far less praise. His comic routines were evidently now deemed old fashioned. Under such conditions, it was hard for him to even perform his old standards with enthusiasm.

Unable to recapture his old form, Marceline lent his name to a restaurant. When it failed, he invested his money in a second restaurant. It too failed. He and his wife separated and his remaining savings withered away.

"The proud Spaniard couldn't find a way create new material or to revive an act that was now viewed with scorn and indifference. The years passed slowly for him, but quickly enough to make his name only a dim memory for audiences. Nearly broke, he checked into the Hotel Mansfield at 226 West 50th Street in New York. The manager recalled that in many months, "Nobody ever telephoned him; he never received mail, he never smiled or complained. We knew nothing of his business."

"On November 3, he pawned his diamond ring for $15. Two days later, between midnight and 4am, Marceline knelt at his bed, staring at the photographs of himself he had placed there, like cards. His first trembling pistol shot went into the wall. The second did not miss.

"Marceline was found "kneeling as though in prayer" the following morning. The shots had been heard and had been ignored. Six dollars was all he had left besides the pictures of a once-loved clown."

His ex-wife was one of the few at the funeral. She had great compassion for the great Marceline. As reporters gathered around, she announced, "I expected something like this."

Happy Kellems

From Jerry Jay...

Pat, I really enjoy your blog(s). Here is a photo I shot of Happy Kellems in the 60's. It was in Cleveland (a winter date). Keep up the good work. Jerry Jay

Thanks for the kind words and for sharing the great picture Jerry!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cole Clowns with Equestrienne

Posing with an unidentified woman is Dick Lewis, unidentified and Horace Laird on the Cole Bros. Circus in the late 30s/early 40s.

Polack Alley

This photo from the Tegge Circus Archives, Lou Jacobs, Rudy Dockey and Charlie Cheer from a Polack tour in the mid-50s.


Confirmation of Charlie Cheer's identity comes to us from Bill Strong.


More on the story comes courtesy of our intrepid reporter in the field, Robin Estes...

This one is from the 1954 Polack show. I don't really know if Lou ever actually played a fiddle, but he did indeed play the accordion!—Tim Tegge

The year I have verified that Lou Jacobs was with Polack Bros instead of RBB&B was 1956. I have a Polack Bros program from that year which lists his Lunimobile as a featured act. He was assisted by Harold Simmons and Jackie Gerlich in his little car act that year. I believe when he was with RBB&B, Frankie Saluto assisted him most often as the gas station attendant. I've heard references to him being with Polack Bros for more then one season, but I don't know which other years, if they were consecutive or not. The 1956 season was the year AGVA went on strike against RBB&B.The 1956 Polack Bros clown alley was Lou Jacobs, Rudy Docky, Chester Sherman, Joe Sherman (actually Joe Vanni), Harold Simmons, and Jackie Gerlich. The Sherman Bros. duo have been inducted into the ICHOF. That would have been some alley to see.Emmett Kelly, Otto Griebling, and Felix Adler were the clowns with RBB&B who honored the picket lines and didn't appear with the 1956 production. Emmett never returned. In 1957, when the strike was settled, Emmett was the mascot of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team and St. Louis Hawks basketball team. He was a natural as mascot for the Dodgers since their nickname at the time was Dem Bums. He was with them only one season because the next year they moved to Los Angeles and he thought their new stadium was too big for him to be effective in.—Bruce Johnson

Lou Jacobs was on the Polack show for three seasons... 1954, 1955 and 1956. Lou and my dad were very close and I have letters from him to my dad during this period of three seasons, talking about various things on the Polack show. Also have some wonderful, candid shots of him backstage at Chicago's Medinah Temple, in 1954, as well as 16mm color footage of Lou, Rudy Dockey and Charlie Cheer doing their musical routine on an outdoor Shrine date, possibly out West.—Tim Tegge

A Collection of Photos

From the upper left: Felix Adler and Paul Jerome (tramp makeup) with Lola Dobritch, Charlie Bell and Peanut, Lou Jacobs and lastly Paul Jerome (whiteface).

Glen Tracy portrait of Harry Dann

The face that launched a thousand imitators: A fantastic pencil drawing by Glen Tracy of Harry Dann. It is signed and dated upper left hand corner...Harry Dann, April 1950.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Charlie Bell

The extremely classic early century whiteface of Mr. Charlie Bell. 35 years on RBB&B, dog trainer extraordinaire and creator of the hunting gag that Lou Jacobs kept alive for the rest of his career, Charlie was featured extensively in Ceil B. DeMille's THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH.

In the 1950s Charlie was also featured on boxes of Kellogg's Sugar Smacks in a series that also included Lou Jacobs and Paul Jung.

From the New York Times Sept. 26, 1964:


(SARATOGA (sp) Fla., Sept. 25 (AP) Charles D. Chase, an acrobat and circus clown for 63 years died today in a Saratoga (sp) hospital. He was 78 years old.

Mr. Chase started his career at the age of 7 when he ran away from home in Barnesville, Ohio as an acrobat in a medicine show. He adopted the owner's last name, Bell, as his own and was known thereafter as Charlie Bell.

During his early career he was billed as the world's greatest tumbler. In his main act he would somersault from a springboard over a small herd of elephants.

Later he worked in a comedy acrobatic team called Rice, Bell and Baldwin. He spent 35 years with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey before he retired in 1956.

He is survived by his widow, Gertrude, also a circus performer; a daughter, Charlotte Korak and a brother, Harry.

Nairobi Trio Video

Ernie Kovacs gave us one of the most perfect clown gags in the world and to the best of my knowledge it's never been performed in a circus. I think this would work just fine in a one ring format or as a track gag.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Charlie Rivel

A link to a 2:55 film of ICHOF inductee Charlie Rivel (possibly the greatest circus clown of all time) from 1979, very late in his career...

Lou Jacobs in Whiteface

A color photo of Lou Jacobs in whiteface. Just in case anyone had any questions about where Capitol records came up with the design for the face of Bozo the Capitol Clown. If you look inside the top of Lou's trunk in his first scene (the one in the Alley in Winter Quarters) in the GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH you'll see that he has a very large picture of Bozo taped up in there.