(This was Vern Woerner's first appearance in makeup)
From Dean "Elmo Gibb" Chambers...
I've been looking for this alley picture for quite some time. I'd forgotten how big this print was--I couldn't get the whole thing into the scanner. This alley was hired by Jim Douglass for Gracie McIntosh's M&M Circus Internationale February 1981.
Middy Streeter was a fixture on Shrine circuses for a few years. One helluva nice guy.
Bobby Davis was Billy Barton's right-hand man. Billy loaned him to Jim Douglass for the alley. Most audiences remember Bobby for setting web for Billy Barton, wearing only a feathered G-string and a jeweled headband, the briefest costume I ever saw on an American male perfomer. He had so much fun working with the group that he became a full-time clown. When Billy became too decrepit to do his cloud swing, he and Bobby did a clown drag number with Billy as Baby Jane (he had a thing for Bette Davis impersonation). I worked the 1984 Zerbini tour with Bobby. He was a world of fun. I miss him.
Rick Legg was a magician and pretty talented announcer. I worked the 1983 M&M tour with him. He clowned the indoor dates and announced the outdoor dates. Don Bridwell and I worked the toothache and camera gags with Rick on the microphone. avery performance was different and spontaneous, with all three of us egging each other on.
Vern Woerner was Jim Douglass' partner. Each winter Vern would build the props for Jim and I would paint them (sometimes I would do both). Vern drove the truck (Jim always carried three ring curbs, lights, sound, clown props, four floats and spec wardrobe) and supervised the set-ups and teardowns of the shows. He was the hardest working person I have ever known, and a fiercely loyal friend, once you got to know him.
For over 40 years Jim Douglass put together alleys. He usually hired eight professional clowns. Every year he produced three to five original ring gags or new variations on the classics. Although he was rarely on the big name shows (he was with Pollack Bros. for many years), he worked for 40 years (the first professional circus he ever produced was at the DeLand, FL at AGE FIFTEEN!), taking time off only for military duty. He is also on record as having twin dog acts with 21 dogs in each act!!!
Jim was also one of the founders of the Clowns of America organization. He also designed and built the original Ronald McDonald wardrobe--he lost out on the make-up design and the company instead went with the busted watermelon ass make-up we all know. In my estimate Jim Douglass is the most important US producing clown after Paul Jung. I hope some group eventually recognizes him for a lifetime achievement award.