Saturday, December 02, 2006

Unidentified #1

Bill sent this photo of a clown with some of the lovely ladies of Ringling-Barnum 1946. The young woman in the front row, right side is Evelyn Theron, mother of Ninette Theron Parker

The unidentified clown in the center of the picture looks to be Harry Dann.

Unidentified #2

Photo courtesy of Bill Strong

Bill had this picture of an unidentified clown from Ringling 1952. It looks to me like Eddie Dullam.

The little girl is Michelle Olsen, daughter of flying act catcher (and Superman's Pal ), Jimmy Olsen & his wife Flo Theron.

Clowns Elephants & Pretty Girls (Minus the Elephants)

Photo courtesy of Bill Strong

The pretty girl is Ninette Theron Parker of the Fabulous Theron Family Bicycle Act. The clown is Gene Randow, Polack Bros. 1953

Click on the title of this post to visit Bill's circus blog YESTERDAY'S TOWNS

Friday, December 01, 2006

Clowns, Elephants and Pretty Girls

An unidentified clown (I can't imagine who this would be), two elephants, the smaller of which was named Baby John and a really strikingly beautiful showgirl take a dip in a Motel pool in this publicity photo from the Ringling 100th edition Blue show.

Ben Vereen

Ben Vereen, who to the best of my knowledge has never made disparaging remarks about clowns, outside the Alley in the Venice Arena surrounded by Master Clown Glen "Frosty" Little and several others including current Ringling Gold Unit ringmaster Jon Weiss smack dab in the center.

Slaton, Saluto and Ronk

Photo courtesy of Robin Estes, from the Estate of Mr. Harold Ronk

Dick Slaton, Frankie Saluto and Harold Ronk.

I was sorry to hear from someone who was there at the time that Frankie was picked on mercilessly in the Ringling Alley in the late 60s/early 70s because people found his hot temper very funny and enjoyed getting him all wound up just to sit back and watch the fireworks.

I don't know if that's true or if the way that Frankie was treated throughout his Ringling career or not, but I wish he'd have been afforded at little more respect at the end of it.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Swedish Police!

100th Edition Ringling Blue Show 1970: I'm not positive of the ID of the young Clown College grad emerging from the Lou Jacobs-style car but the cop is none other than Swede Johnson.

The photo brings two questions immediately to mind:

1) Who had the nerve to ask Lou (if they asked at all) if they could replicate one of his signature props (and paint it all psychedelic colors, damn hippies) for the Blue show? Kinko Sunberry was on the show from '66 to '68 and had spent probably 20 years doing a midget car act but there is no evidence that he EVER did it on Ringling, where the gag belonged to Lou.

2) Speaking of Kinko, how could the Felds justify "retiring" some of their senior (and I DO mean SENIOR) clowns in 1968 for being too old and then hire Swede Johnson who was just as old if not OLDER than the guys he was replacing?!?

Great ring mats though.

Jimmy James 1967

I believe I've posted this photo before but now we have an exact date for this early version of James "Jimmy James" Plott's classic whiteface makeup, 1967, on the Frank McClosky and Walter Kernan owned Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus.

Next season the Cole show is set to go out with rumors that the reins have passed from John Pugh to the Davenports. The new Clyde Beatty Circus (no relation to last year's Dick Garden produced show) comes from the west with Frank McCloskey's nephew at the helm.

John Ringling North III is now at Kelly-Miller, a new version of the 3 ring LE Barnes Holly, Jolly and Whatever coming and "Bello-bration", the new Ringling Red show with triangles, blue diamonds, green stars or purple horseshoes instead of rings (or no rings)...well, 2007 should be interesting to say the least.

I just wonder how many of these new shows will carry "real" alleys? I haven't heard a word about the clowning on any of them.

They are all going to have a hard time beating this year's Big Apple Circus, they have ANOTHER truly oustanding show this year.

Mr. Robert Smiley

Photo courtesy of Robin Estes, from the Estate of Mr. Harold Ronk

An undated photo of Master Clown and International Clown Hall of Fame inductee Robert "Bobby Kay" Smiley, out of makeup.

By all accounts, a truly wonderful man.

Lester and Stanley Janus

Photo courtesy of Robin Estes, from the Estate of Mr. Harold Ronk

Lester and Stanley Janus in the 100th edition Blue Unit show in 1970.

"Show me the mun-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

106th Edition: Group Shot

Photo courtesy of Robin Estes, from the Estate of Mr. Harold Ronk

The assembled Clown Alley of the 1976 106th edition Blue Unit of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

I believe all but four of the clowns pictured here (Mark Anthony, Prince Paul and the Severinis' dogs) were Clown College graduates.

106th Edition: Mark Anthony

Photo courtesy of Robin Estes, from the Estate of Mr. Harold Ronk

Clown prince of the 106th edition, Mark Anthony seen here kicking out the jams with future Clown College dean Ron Severini on the left and Terry Parsons on the right.

106th Edition: Gale Lajoye

Photo courtesy of Robin Estes, from the Estate of Mr. Harold Ronk

106th Edition Advance Clown, Gale Lajoye.

I was in Irowood or Iron Mountain, we play them both but I'm pretty sure it was Ironwood, in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula) of Michigan last year playing a Shrine date at the local arena with Cindy Migley's Circus Spectacular. After the show I went looking for any open nearby restaurant but, like most of the country, the town was pretty well put to bed for the night by the time I got out.

The only place with a kitchen that was open was a bar & grill downtown where, after taking my seat, I was comped for my entire dinner since I was the clown with the circus. Seems that the owner was a good friend of Gale's, who lives in town but was away performing, and she was extending every courtesy that she could on his behalf.

Sorry I missed him, hope to meet him one day and I definetly owe him one.

Nothing tastes better after a two show day in a one day town than a free dinner across the street from the hotel.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Circus World

Photos courtesy of Robin Estes, from the Estate of Mr. Harold Ronk

Keith Crary, Lou Jacobs, Irvin Feld, Harold Ronk and Michu with two unidentified "suits" (possibly Florida politicians or execuives from Mattel), an elephant and some other clowns at the opening of Circus World near Haines City, FL.

Lou Jacobs: the man ALWAYS had the right idea.

Clowns , elephants and pretty girls... well, two out of three ain't bad!

"OK, Mattel says it's time to put everything away."

Monday, November 27, 2006

Otto with...

Photo courtesy of Robin Estes, from the Estate of Mr. Harold Ronk

Presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey literally throwing Harold Ronk's ringmaster hat into the ring in, I believe, 1968. On the left is Otto with a small microphone wearing a baseball cap and the ear phones he had on when Harold was "interviewing" him in one of the earlier photos Robin shared from the Ronk collection.

Otto with... #2

Photo courtesy of Robin Estes, from the Estate of Mr. Harold Ronk

Harold Ronk, two unidentfied men and Otto Griebling

Otto with... #3

Photo courtesy of Robin Estes, from the Estate of Mr. Harold Ronk

Otto Griebling, unidentified, Paul Jung and Harold Ronk, 1964

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Classic Clowning: Jerry Lewis

From the Colgate Comedy Hour: Jerry Lewis' typewriter bit, the type of "record act" that he was doing in nightclubs before teaming up with Dean Martin.

Sunday Morning Art Gallery w/ Cowboy Mike Keever

Garden Variety Clown by my pal, Cowboy Mike

Click the title of this post to link to the Cel-ebration Art Gallery in Red Bank, NJ and find out more about Mike and his artwork.