Monday, July 17, 2006

Bobo Barnett

Whenever I ask anyone who's been around the circus industry for any length of time who the very best clown they ever saw was, the answer almost always comes back... Otto Griebling.

On the rare occasion that they don't say Otto, they almost always say Chester "Bobo" Barnett.

Bobo would enter the ring in a midget car, similar to Lou Jacobs, Kinko Sunberry or Hip Raymond. He'd emerge from the car and then pull from it a full comedy dog act. He'd perform with the dogs and then finish by playing "Peg of My Heart" on the trumpet.

Sounds easy. Doesn't sound all that funny.

People assure me that he used to KILL with that act. Everytime. Everywhere. K-I-L-L!

There are tapes, somewhere I'm sure, of Bobo's appearances on Ed Sullivan and other variety shows of the era. I haven't been able to track any down yet but if you've got one, or know someone who does, I'd love to see it!

Chester's daughter, Bonnie Ann recently wrote a book. It's mostly about her own life's journey but contains a good amount of info on Bobo...


Anonymous said...

Had a great moment in my career when I worked on the same bill with"BO-BO". He was from the old school of showmen, very tight liped. I ask him how he got started in the business and after a moment and a question and answer period "BO-BO" let me have it. His career started out as a movie runner when he was a kid. He would bicycle the reel movies from one side of town to the other, to another movie house, so they coulld show it. The rest is history. "BO-BO" was a pro from the top to the bottom. An honor to work with him and to be in the same dressing room....Bernie Kallman

24-HOUR-MAN said...

Bobo told me that during prohibition he played trumpet in "speakeasies" for drinks. One night a young blonde haired guy approached him and said, "you're pretty good, how much do they pay you"? Bobo told him what he was doing & the guy suggested Bobo play and he would pass the hat & collect enough to get a room for the night. They did just that, the next morning the guy said they should go around all the joints that night, and maybe make bus fare home. They did & it worked out fine, Bobo said he didn't even ask the guy his name. Many years later Bobo booked his Dog Act on a little Circus out of Dallas, Tex. when he arrived on the lot, he thought he should let them know he was there, he knocked on the office door & when it opened him & the guy inside said at the same time,"don't I know you from somewhere", it was Bobo's second meeting with Gil Gray.

Anonymous said...

Had not heard that one about Bobo and Gil however Gil mention that being a song and dance man that he had pass the hat a many time at busking during the apprentiship of becoming a show owner and frist took his show by baggage car

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