Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Charlie Bell

Two shots taken of Charlie Bell and Peanut from what appear to be the same Ringling photo session circa 1944.

The top one is an autographed photo from my collection, the bottom comes to us from the collection of Harold Barbour.


Anonymous said...

He's wearing more makeup in the top photo. Do you think he added more between shots, or was it painted onto the photo?

Pat Cashin said...

Both photos look to be clumisly retouched.

Before airbrushing, half of the clown publicity photos that I have prior to 1955 look to be painted to enhance the way they'd reproduced in newsprint.

Sometimes it looks OK, sometimes it looks just awful.

I have a photo of Ernie Burch where, my guess is, his eyes might have been closed in the original. His eyes have been painted in by the retoucher, sans pupils or light highlighting so they look like cartoon character or doll eyes, large and flat.

Really creepy and inhuman.

Anonymous said...

As to the amount of make-up worn by Charlie Bell, please keep in mind that on circuses in general, the press has a tendency to appear unannounced and unscheduled. Charlie may have been nabbed by the press guy and thrown on a quickie make-up just to get a shot in the afternoon paper. I have even done a 3-minute make-up totally unrelated to my own usual face, but gave the photagrapher a fake name to go along with it.

I was talking to Mark Anthony over at Jim Parker's place one winter, and they told me that when Charluie Bell retired, he sold the hunting routine to Lou. I dug back into old programs one time and found that, yes, indeed, Charlie did a hunting routine with his dog and another clown. Lou, however, turned the routine into a true work of art. I would occasionally sneak over to the Red Unit to visit and aleways managed to take in Lou's hunting routine or his little car.

If you did back far enough into the old Billboard magazine, you will find that it took Lou a few tries before the routine was put into the big show. It took Otto and Freddie Freeman about four years before they got favorable reviews on their boxing gag classic.

If youy watch a good print of "The Greatest Show on Earth" you will see Charlie walking his dog in an elephant suit. Parker told me that Felix Adler threw some big prima donna hissy fit, and DeMille only shot him from the rear!