Tuesday, November 02, 2010

GLEN "FROSTY" LITTLE: Obituary, Sarasota-Herald

Glen "Frosty" Little taught others art of clowning


Glen Little, an early graduate of the Ringling Bros. Clown College, was known as "Frosty" the clown.
Published: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 at 8:42 p.m. 
In his off hours, Glen Little could easily go unnoticed, but when he spread white makeup all over his face and donned his trademark pointy red hat, thousands of circus lovers instantly knew him as Frosty.
One of the first graduates of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College who later mentored hundreds of younger clowns during a 23-year career, "Frosty" Little died Oct. 26 in Burley, Idaho. He was 84.

"We used to say that the Clown College was a salvation for American circus clowning, but I say Frosty was the salvation of circus clowning," said Chuck Sidlow, who studied under and worked with Little for several years.

Born in 1925 in Nebraska, Little developed a lifelong love for circus after seeing a performance as a child, Sidlow said. Friends said he got the nickname "Frosty" from a grandfather because he loved to play in the snow.

In 1968, he became part of the first class of Clown College, which was based for many years in Venice. He graduated at age 44, and quickly joined the newly created second touring unit. Within two years, he became the "boss clown," and for 11 years until his retirement in 1991, he served as "Executive Clown Director," overseeing clowns in both the red and blue units and helping to develop new clown gags. He also returned each summer to work with new Clown College students. He and his wife, Pat, lived in Venice during his Ringling circus years.

"He made young kids feel welcome and made sure the old-timers were treated with respect and honor," said Sidlow, who now works for Circus Sarasota. "He recognized their contribution to the circus and the art of clowning, and he carried the torch."

Sidlow said Little created more than 200 clown gags, designed and built props and taught many newcomers how to be better in the three-ring circus world.

"He was a father figure to almost everybody," Sidlow said. "He had a soft humane side that enabled him to mentor. He was such a giving person, and instead of teaching you about circus and clowning and comedy, you learned by osmosis, because it just came off him."

In 1983, Little joined Lou Jacobs, Otto Griebling and Bobby Kay as one of only four Ringling circus "master" clowns. He was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame in 1991, around the time he retired and moved with his wife to Burley, Idaho, where he ran a circus museum.

He also worked privately with many clowns to develop and perfect their acts, Sidlow said. In 1996, he also wrote a book about his clowning experiences, "Circus Stories: Boss Clown on the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus for More than 20 Years."

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his brother, Dixon, and a daughter, Tanya. No formal funeral is planned, but a celebration of life will be scheduled in Sarasota.

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