Friday, July 21, 2006
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
The DeSantos have produced a homage to Spike Jones for the Ringling show (one of my favorite gags of the entire Clown College era) and Todd Robbins has honored the legacy of Spike and the City Slickers on the Big Apple's Happy On tour.
Here is the original, Mr. Lindley Armstrong "Spike" Jones from his rarely seen feature Fireman, Save My Child (a remake of a Joe E. Brown vehicle that was supposed to star Abbott & Costello) featuring the All-Star classic City Slickers line-up including Earl Bennett (as Sir Frederick Gas),
Dick Morgan, Freddy Morgan (a truly funny guy who was a fantastic banjo player), Georgie Rock and Joe Siracusa. Music lovers, enjoy.
Monday, July 17, 2006
When I was a kid you knew that the Red Unit was back at the Garden because the papers were always filled with photos of 'Cowboy Mike' Keever.
'Cowboy Mike' Keever graduated Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College (the year Emmett visited) in 1977. He performed with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for 13 years. First with the Red Unit, from 1978 - 1983, then as Advance Clown from 1983 - 1990.
I met Mike a few years back at the Cel-ebration Art Gallery in Red Bank, NJ. He was there in makeup and so was I (I was just coming back from a show and didn't want to stop home and change for fear that I'd miss him), we had a great talk. He struck me as just as wonderful a guy as I remebered seeing in the ring all those years before.
To see what Mike is up to now visit...
I've been told by several reliable sources that Harry Dann NEVER worked on the Beatty-Cole show but here we see SOMEONE who looks an awful lot like him in his usual whiteface, small peaked hat but sporting a baggy, plaid suit.
I knew I had seen pictures of SOMEONE who looked like Harry but was always told that it could never have been him.
Submitted for your approval: Above we have a Beatty-Cole publicity photo from the spring of 1967 featuring several clowns identified (top to bottom) as Eddie Dullam, John James, Marvin Gauger and Cliff Cowen.
Now the guy on top certainly looks like Eddie Dullam so I'll buy that one. The third one down could be Marvin Gauger, I don't know. I've never heard the name before. The bottom guy looks to me to be Jimmy Armstrong not Cliff Cowen. Cliff Cowen is identified in another press photo and the person in the picture is neither a little person nor a clown on the show.
All of which brings us to the man second from the top.
Folks, that's Harry Dann. It's not Billy McCabe or "John James" or Jimmy James or even Jimmy "J.J." Walker... that is Harry Dann in a plaid suit looking quite a bit like what Frosty Little would look like just a year or so later on the Ringling show.
Just because Harry is in the photo doesn't mean he toured with the show. He may have just been there for press photos. And just because the photo was published in 1967 that doesn't mean that's when it was taken.
But that's Harry Dann in a plaid suit working for Beatty-Cole. So there!
THIS JUST IN FROM BILL STRONG!!!
"According to "Encyclopedia Herriott", when Harry Dann first came to Beatty-Cole he announced the show, wearing a red Blazer, he indeed did clown on the show. Marv Gauger & Cliff Cowen were very close friends and often attended Circuses & CFA functions together. I spent 3 years with Marv at CWM, and feel like it is Marv in the picture, BUT, that is Jimmy Armstrong on the bottom sure as you're born. On top is Eddie Dullum, and if that's not Harry Dann, I'm not Bill Strong, and I'm going this afternoon to get a DNA test to confirm that I am really me. I am enclosing a scan of the same pic that I made off an 8X10 glossy that I sold earlier.
One place Harry Dann definetly DID work was the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus...just NOT in 1973 when this postcard was being sold at the Circus World theme park in Haines City, FL.
(From the back of the postcard) "MASTER OF MIRTH AND MERRIMENT, Harry the Clown and his young friend Herman typify the wholesome amusement the Circus brings to the young and young at heart."
To that I say, "Well, sure. If a confirmed bachelor wearing makeup and holding a duck is your idea of wholesome then more power to you!" ; )
Photos from this session are STILL being used on shows around the world. Outside of Lou Jacobs, Harry Dann has posthumously promoted more shows he wasn't on than any other clown in history!
From new contributor and former "Boss Clown" of Circus World in Haines City, Fl. Mr. Donald "Donni" Stambaugh...
Thats a me lower left side of photo which was sold at park as a post card. Photo also was on bi-centenial brochure, handout map etc. This photo was taken 2 hours after I got to the park to work there. Still hadn't even been in the place. Well there's a teaser of my C. W time More later if you want---------Donni
I think we'd all like to hear more Circus World stories!
For more on Circus World...
And especially the Circus World clowns
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...
Catch ‘em when they’re young – as the Jesuits know – and they’re yours for life.
If your first memory of circus clowning is of the classic, three-ring American clown - part cotton candy cartoon character, part sawdust Santa Claus, made from the same stuff as fairy tales and Mickey Mouse... the very living personification of fun and childhood dreams - then the mark left by the experience tends to be indelible.
Believe me, I know!
In this increasingly cynical world, every child should be given the opportunity to discover afresh the eternal joy of the circus clown as "every child's pal". As Spike Milligan recalled of Laurel & Hardy: "From the moment I saw them on screen, I knew they were my friends."
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages...1996 International Clown Hall of Fame inductee..."the Children's Clown"...Mr. Jackie LeClaire.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
The other day I had posted photos of Mike Coco and stated that he had walked high stilts on the Ringling show in the 60s while posting a later photo of him posing outside a photographer's studio.
Here is Mike in action, walking the track during the 1966 Ringling spec, in all his three ring, star-spangled glory...
I have no information on the year or the show but I would have to guess that's it's an indoor winter Shrine date back during Otto's Cole Bros. days; he stopped wearing his wig by the time he joined the Ringling show.
Pictured (left to right) are Otto Griebling, Happy Kellams, Unidentified (possibly Charlie Lewis or Art Cooksy judging from the painted, scarecrow-style triangle red nose) and Joe Lewis.
Anyone want to try to tell me why Jojo Lewis, one of the most famous circus clown cops of the "Golden Age" is NOT in a cop suit, but the other guy IS?!?
A true gentleman and a great person to work both with and for... Mr. Mike Naughton.
The photo bears the legend "MIKE NAUGHTON presents 'KOSCO THE CLOWN' APPEARING IN THE WORLD'S FINEST CIRCUSES".
Take a moment and see what Mike has been up to with his own show, the Yankee Doodle Circus
"America's Number One Circus for Children": http://www.yankeedoodlecircus.com/
This just received from the one and only Bernie Kallman...
"I did want to mention Mike Naughton. We had the joy of working together on Shrine dates back in the dark ages with a Producer/Director Don Francisco. A marvelous man and great lover of the American Clown. Mike was producing clown for one of the dates and we had as much fun doing the gags as the audience did seeing them. It was one of the highlights of working with a guy like Mike who loved doing what he loved best, Clowning. If you get a chance, remember me to him would you?" - Bernie Kallman