Saturday, January 26, 2008

PAUL JUNG: Envelope


One of Paul Jung's envelopes.

Even in mail Jung is more visually interesting than just about any clown in history.

GRANDMA IN MONTE CARLO

Photo courtesy of AUCIRQUE, comments courtesy of Barry Lubin


From Barry...

I am in Monte Carlo and what an experience this has been!

There were four shows in the competition with Grandma performing 4 acts in two of those shows. I won no major prize, but I seemed to have succeeded here otherwise.

The audience received the character very nicely, and now we are doing shows post-competition and the audiences are fantastic. What fun finally to just go out there with no other agenda than showing up and having fun doing my thing.

The festival performances have been running 4 1/2 to 5 hours each. Amazing huh, but people do stay and frankly, they are witnessing some of the greatest talent the world has to offer.

I have met some wonderful folks and have joked around with the producer of the Festival, Princess Stephanie. She is a huge fan of the circus and has been quite gracious to all of us. Tonight she personally asked me to sing Unforgettable in the show with her bodyguard, which I considered a great honor and it was my pleasure and the audience's to sing and dance with this huge, bald man.

Life is good!

Barry Lubin


Friday, January 25, 2008

JEFF DARNELL REMEMBERS: Peare Family at Cobo Hall


Photo and comments courtesy of Jeff Darnell




From Gary Peare...

I think this was '79. The Blue Show played Detroit when I was in Venice. Tom Dougherty did my dad's (Gene Peare) make-up. The design looked as though my dad had used it for years. It became his makeup for the rest of his life!

His costume is entirely vintage. Those are my great-uncle Hank Peare's shoes (Lou told me they were made out of felt boot liners); they used to be about 30 inches longer. Hank, Bobby Clark, and Paul McCullough all took turns wearing them. The pants and coat were made by Hank's brother-in-law who was one of those Circus Fans of America guys who used to be allowed to work spot dates when shows came to town. He reused all of Hank's stuff


From Jeff Darnell...

Here's another one! Thanks for confirming the date Gary.

JD

Folks in photo: Peare family..... Mom? brother?
In make up: Kelly Tansy, Tom Dougherty, Jeff Darnell, Mr Peare.

A POEM

Scans courtesy of Bill Strong

From Bill...

Almost posted this, but decided it belongs in "The Alley", I was barely able to get it scanned but only lost a couple words on one page. It's from the Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Shows, 1901 route book.








Thursday, January 24, 2008

CLOWN ALLEY: Sawing a Woman In Half, Ringling 1969

video

From Michael Karp...


The "Sawing the Woman in Half" gag was written and produced by Prince Paul Alpert (you spell his name "Albert" on the blog, but I remember it as "Alpert"--at this distance in time, I can easily stand corrected, however) for the Red Unit's 1969 season...

The cast included Billy Ward and Scott Bryan (and later, Chuck Sateja, replacing Billy) as the Magician's assistants, Dalton Dearborn (clown school grad) as the Woman, Paul and Mike Padilla as the Woman after Sawing, and me as the Magician.

The prop box and mammoth saw were rented to Ringling for the gag by Paul Jung's widow, Elsie Jung, who had warehoused all of Paul's props, costumes and gag paraphernalia and made it available--for a fee--to clowns in need of sure-fire material...And I will say, she kept the old props in terrific condition, even though they were not always easy to use...

For example, the saw was supposed to hook a latch in the box which held the two halves together. At the appropriate moment, one assistant would hook the latch on his side, the other would quickly hook the latch on HIS side and the two halves would be released, letting the two halves of the now sawed Woman run out and around the ring...

I suppose it COULD have worked that way, but it never did. The assistants had to pop the latch with their fingers, which often caught them in the mechanism and pinched them hard. Billy complained so much that Paul later had Chuck do the First Assistant part in his place.

Prince Paul and Elsie were long-time friends and Prince was one of Paul Jung's friends and favorites, so he got first dibs on :Paul's old props...

And Paul was among the few of the veteran clowns that Irvin Feld liked and/or respected (the Kings of the Alley comprised the rest: Lou, Mark, Bobby, Otto and, of course, the younger ones--Dougie and Lazlo). Prince's warm relationship with Duane and Harold Ronk also guaranteed him good parts in spec and production numbers since they, in turn, were tight with Richard Barstow...

Which is not to say that Prince was not an excellent performer in his own right and probably the best, among the little people, that the show had by that time in its history! But his political skills didn't hurt, either.

(And, of course, Irvin needed the gag, since we all had heard he was disappointed by that first class to graduate from Clown School, for reasons that were not really the fault of those initial clown grads..Most of that first class had great potential and were certainly willing to learn, but were ill served by the very loose structure and informal nature of the training the first organizers gave us--although I will say that Danny Chapman worked very hard and had a great deal to offer! We all thought Irvin's dismay was the real reason that the Firehouse gag never made it to the Garden (aside from its bulk--it included a pretty sizable fire-engine, after all--that made it difficult to transport) and why he brought in the Brizios as comedy insurance!))

As for Prince...Bright, swaggering and tough with a low threshold for annoyances great or petty, he was easily the most well-spoken of the little people (and many of the big ones, too) with a ready laugh and good, albeit sarcastic and often raunchy, sense of humor.

He and I got along well, after the first months in which I "took the water" severely! And I was really flattered that he cast me in the gag!

But he got mad at me for "overreacting" when he and Mike came running out of the box and he fired me!!! He replaced me with Scott Bryan and shifted around the others to cover for Scott...

The firing only lasted a few weeks: Scott decided to go back to school, so Prince put me back in, with the warning to play it with less animation!

As far as "overreactions" go, Dalton ad-libbed that first pratfall when he entered the scene! So there! (Petty old resentments die a hard death, don't they???? Keeping them going is one of the comforts of middle age!)

I was surprised that Dougie and/or Latzie didn't pitch a fit when the gag got chosen for TV; but they were pros, understood the nature of the biz, and, in those bygone days, not everyone felt that an appearance on television was the sole standard by which their worth as performers could be judged! Dougie was much more interested in getting into movies, I think...and was very proud of his appearance (as part of his family's risley act, "The Seven Flying Ashtons") in Red Skelton's movie "Public Pigeon Number 1."

As far as Arthur Godfrey was concerned, I enjoyed working with him immensely! I did an Axion Detergent commercial with him as part of the special (and I wish I could find a video of that commercial now!). After rehearsal, he walked over to the agency reps from Procter & Gamble's ad agency and invited me to join them in the impromptu meeting.

"Well, Arthur," one of the reps asked deferentially..."How did you like the copy?" Godfrey paused. "I think it stinks!" he said, with a sneering emphasis on the word "stinks." Each one of the reps raised their cigarettes robotically to their lips and, as one, took a loooooong, deeeeeeep drag....

Godfrey had "the suits" on the run and it was great!

He analysed what was wrong with the script and told them, "I know what to do...Just leave it to me..."

During the actual taping of the commercial, he ad-libbed the copy in his inimitable, folksy, cornpone style...The spot came out on time to the second! And he got in every cue for my bits of business!

Say what one will...and there's a lot to say...about Godfrey's arrogance and nastiness...the man was a real pro!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

BIG APPLE CIRCUS CLOWN CARE



I have an audition this morning for the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit.

Wish me luck!

JEFF DARNELL REMEMBERS: Clown Car, Ringling Blue Unit 1979

Photo and comments courtesy of Jeff Darnell



From Jeff...

This photo was taken in 1979 in Cobo Hall.... (I think.)

Peter Pitofsky is adjusting Guest Clown Mr. Peare's hat (I believe this is Gary's dad)

Checkered shoes of Scotty Parker then Tom Dougherty with the flowered lapel, JD in the striped shirt to Tom's right in the back ground, and the little person is Elizabeth in the police uniform.

For the life of me, I can't remember the clown in the "car wash" overalls is.

I think Michael Brevig's curly wig is poking out from behind Peter's head.

FETTUCINI BROTHERS: Plate Spinning in the Great Hall

Video courtesy of the Fettucini Brothers



My pals Captain Mike Heidtman and Steve Langley perform at the Zhejiang People's Great Hall in Shanghai, China.

From their original post...

This is a video from one of our China performances. This is from the Zhejiang People's Great Hall, which is like The Lincoln Center of this area. This was the kick-off show for the whole festival and was performed for government officials and invited guests. We were asked to do our plate spinning routine. They love the spinning plates in China. Go figure...


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

JEFF DARNELL REMEMBERS: Ringling Blue Unit, 1980

Photos courtesy of Jeff Darnell


Jeff Darnell performing a walkaround.



Tuba Heatherton using Richard Fick's falsie as a drumpad



Peter Pitofsky in the Alley.



Michu getting ready to rush into a phone booth to change into Alf.



Jeff Darnell practicing his drumming at his trunk as young Florian Richter looks on.



Portrait of The Artist As a Young Kid: The man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo, a young Florian Richter.

Monday, January 21, 2008

STANLEY AND LESTER JANUS


Stanley Janus passed away on January 17th, 2008 at age 84.

If anyone has any photos or video of Stanley or his brother Lester (who passed away several years ago) that they'd like to share with the family, please send them to their nephew, Mike Janus at maddogjanus@yahoo.com

They still have two brothers alive and living in southern Florida.

Sunday, January 20, 2008