Saturday, October 07, 2006

More Makeup: Jim, Tricia and Earle

Photos courtesy of Larry Hirsh

After stating yesterday that Leon and Frosty had two of the most instantly recognizable clown characters of the early Clown College era, here come two more...

Jim Howle and Earle "Mr. Clown" Chaney.

I've never had the pleasure of meeting Earle but I've met Jim on a few occasions and he's one of my FAVORITE people in the world to talk to. What a great storyteller!

We got to talking at the Clown College reunion in 2001 and were both so wrapped up in the conversation that we didn't realize that almost 2 hours had gone by, everyone else had left and that they'd closed the Adventuredome and we were both now locked in!

Jim's tramp makeup, which once seemed like such a unique and stylized break with tradition, now (thanks to Russian clowns in Slava's Snowshow, AGA-BOOM, "O", and La Nouba) looks amazingly contemporary and cutting edge! I doubt he has any idea just how avante-garde he is!

They are joined in the center by someone who deserves a lot of credit, Tricia "Pricilla Mooseburger" Manuel Bothun, a great clown and clown arts educator. She has helped hundreds of clowns to improves their makeups, costumes and characters through her many educational programs.

For more info on Tricia, Mooseburger Originals, Moose Camp, Moose Camp-On-the-Road or the Great Clown Adventure please visit

Charlie Frye on George Carl

Charlie Frye, a GREAT physical and visual comedian and former Ringling
circus clown knew George Carl very well clears up the mystery of yesterday's photo...


Hi Patrick,

George Carl is the third man across on the front row. He's in his
acrobatic costume with the Arabic looking doo rag. Thought you'd like
to know.


Thanks Charlie!

EVERYONE should check out Charlie's website at

EVERY performer should own all three volumes of Charlie's ECCENTRICKS series:

John Cooper on FUNNY BONES

This just in from my friend John Cooper in the UK.

I can't wait for more info on Jacko Fossett and Charlie Cairoli...


Hi, Pat.
As before, this is going to both addresses. If you
plan to hold on to it for a while, please let me know
it's arrived as I've been having problems with e-mail
of late.

Shortly I shall send a piece concerning Bubi and Jule,
who appeared on 14 July. You may want to dig out a

And then it must be Charlie Cairoli, although the
problem is what to leave out!

Still to establish contact with any member of Nuts and

At some stage I shall probably send something on Jacko
Fossett as it would be a sin to omit him from GREAT
Circus Clowns of the Past. I'd better try to find a
suitable photo and send it down the line. Not that I'm
really computerate - but I know a man who is!

Enough waffle.



Funny Bones.

Mention of George Carl on 6 October reminds me that he
appeared on 8 July as well, the movie/film (I'm
bilingual!) "Funny Bones" being mentioned at the same
time. Reference to that cinematic production also
occurs in connection with Ben Dova (10 and 11 July).

I must make one correction. The comedian/actor Freddie
Davies was known as "Parrot Face" and not "Parrot
Head" as stated.

My friend David Barnes was circus consultant for the
movie, the circus sequences being shot at Blackpool
Tower Circus.

It is Lee Evans himself who climbs the sway pole -
which is the connection with Ben Dova. The prop itself
belonged to a gentleman called Fattini, who had bought
the prop, the act and the name from a retired artiste.
Fattini had been booked to double for Lee Evans when
it came to climbing the pole. Lee decided he could do
it himself - and he did. Which must have amused the

David Barnes tells me that Lesley Caron (who also
appeared in the movie) dined with the crew rather than
disappearing in to her trailer.

If you haven't seen "Funny Bones", I should warn you
that the humour is very dark at times.


A question connected with Ben Dova. Did he have a son
who worked as "Gil Dova"? Gil was a juggler who worked
the cigar boxes whilst perched on a pedestal. He
married a French antipodiste, Regina Baranton, who
worked with her sister Eliane as The Baranton Sisters.

I worked a season with Eliane's daughter Sylvana.
Sylvana is French through her mother and Italian
through her late father ("Johnny" Biasini). Her
husband (Abdul Cheddadi) is Moroccan. Their son
(Brandon) is - well - confused! Not that he need be,
because he was born in England.

I think I asked you a question just now.

John Cooper.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Leon to Buttons

Photos courtesy of Larry Hirsch

The transformation of 9' 3" tall Leon McBryde, soft-spoken southern gentleman, into Buttons, alongside Frosty Little maybe the most instantly recognizable of all of the early Clown College graduates.

These photos were taken at the WRCA makeup demonstration in 2003.

In addition to being a wonderful clown and a master at the art of cicus advance work, Leon is has been a tireless educator to countless clowns throughout the years.

And the man makes excellent clown noses! I wear his Circus Pro CP-XL.


Tom Mix Alley of 1937

Photo courtesy of the Woodcock Circus Archives

I saw this picture today on Buckles Woodcock's outstanding circus blog.

It is reprinted here without permission yet because it's early in the morning and I don't want to bother a man like that at an hour like this.

This photo is interesting for a few reasons.

The Tom Mix Clown Alley of 1937 featured quite a few folks that we've seen here before.

Circus comedy notables amongst the crowd are the George Hanneford riding family, Bumpsy Anthony, Glen "Kinko" Sunberry (listed as "Glen Kinko") and his wife "Mary Kinko" ( MRS. Kinko was a clown too?!?), Jimmy Davidson (who worked many Shrine dates), Jack Knapp (most likely the "Happy" Knapp whose picture we saw here two weeks ago) and one name that jumped off the page at me...

George Carl.

Somewhere in this photo is the one and only George Carl, early in his career, working in whiteface.

By process of elimination, I believe that George Carl may be the whiteface in the front row, four people in from the left of the staples in the center, seated next to Bumpsy Anthony.

It would be easier if I knew how tall Bumpsy was and could get a close-up of that part of the photo from Buckles but, like I said, I'm not going to be the guy to wake him up!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Bozo as Lou/Lou as Bozo

Not a great photo but you should be able to make out Lou Jacobs in an unusual spec costume that seems to be inspired by the Commedia Dell Arte. This photo is from the early 40s and about the time that Capitol Record's artists would be looking through photos for "inspiration".

Another early 40s photo of Lou scanned from the Steinmetz book THE CIRCUS COMES HOME. Either Lou never washed his yak hair wig or he was experimenting with a fright wig at the time. Either way, the face, the hairstyle and the round rubber ball nose are all present in the illustration below.

The cover of the Capitol record-reader BOZO ON THE FARM. The makeup, trick wig, rubber ball nose, as well as that spec costume have all been combined to create Bozo the Clown.

It's pretty obvious that Lou Jacobs was the inspiration for the design of Bozo the Capitol Clown but I still talk to people who just don't see it.

The character that we all know as Bozo the Clown started out as "Bozo the Capitol Clown", was the mascot for Capitol Record's children's division (he was later redesigned after the character was purchased in the 50s by Larry Harmon and became "Larry Harmon's TV Bozo, the World's Most Famous Clown") and was the main character in the very first "record-reader".

A 'record-reader" is a book and LP set where actors read the text of the story and let you know when to turn the page.

Bozo's record readers were an immensely popular series that ran through the 40s and into the early 50s. They spawned a series of comic books, toys and a few early television shows. Bozo was played throughout the series by Pinto Colvig, a former circus clown and the voice of Disney's Goofy.

How did Lou feel about all this? He must not have minded too much. In the Winter Quarters scene where Charleton Heston walks through Clown Alley early in Cecil B. DeMille's THE GREATETST SHOW ON EARTH you can see very clearly that, taped to the inside lid of Lou's trunk, is a picture of "Bozo the Capitol Clown".

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Clown Removes His Make-up

A Clown Removes His Make-up

View on Grouper.comAdd to Blogger Blog

Growing up, this clip from Sesame Street (featuring comic and character actor Dennis Allen) was the only instruction that I ever had in the application of clown makeup.

It says nothing about powdering and it's all done backwards.

Which explains the trouble that I've always had with makeup design and application ; )

It's followed by the two online comments that the clip received.

Add a video comment to this video

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Aga-Boom - Theatre of Physical Comedy and Circus Arts

This technically fits the criterea for being "Great CIRCUS Clowns of the Past" as Dimitri Bogatirev toured with Slava in Cirque du Soliel's ALEGRIA and he and his wife Iryna appeared as featured clowns in Cirque's "O" in Las Vegas.

They are still clowns, but their circus days are behind them.

The whiteface character in the show is a Ringling Clown College grad and road veteran, Philip Karp-Briggs. I've been told he's no longer with the show and currently can be seen with his own JUMBO SHRIMP CIRCUS.

I saw AGA-BOOM two seasons ago at the New Victory Theater and enjoyed it quite a bit. Here's what their promo materials say about the show...

Aga-Boom is a 75-minute family entertainment created and directed by Dimitri Bogatirev, veteran clown of Cirque du Soleil, and produced by his Las Vegas-based Theatre of Physical Comedy and Circus Arts.

Aga-Boom (a spin on the Russian word for paper, boomaga) "fills the theater with the laughter, whoops and screams of children and adults alike. Masterly clowning with its own originality. Pure family fun." - The New York Times.

"Came closer to being literally riotous - as in so funny that the audience did more than just laugh - than any theatrical experience within memory. The kids in the audience were on cloud nine, but hardly more so than the adults. Infectiously silly fun." - Los Angeles Times.

"Aga-Boom is a unique theatrical event that will have the entire family - young and old alike - laughing, smiling and thinking. Rooted in the unique style and universal language of clowning, Aga-Boom cuts through the barriers of language and culture with art of slapstick, the humor of physical comedy and the delightful excitement of childhood." - The Burbank Times

More of Cowboy Mike's Artwork

In keeping with our recent Sunday morning tradition of turning the blog over to viewing great contemporary works of clown art, here's some Native American-inspired circus clown art from Cowboy Mike Keever.


Here are 3 of many, many different clown woodcarvings that I have made...I like Indian Art...many tribes like the Hopi, have Kachina dolls that are a tribute to their Sacred Clowns.......they know how important the healing power of laughter is...and continually celebate it!!! I have talked to some of my Native American Friends about the parallels of our worlds....I told them that I wanted to make these to celebrate the sacred clowns in my tribe...

"the Circus!"

They thought it was cool.... and especially with some of their artist who are colorist and use the bright colors like I do alot to say what I want to say in my work! Some may look like certain clowns I know..others are just kind of a tribal looking figure from my imagination.

It's all fun!!!!

God Bless
Your Friend,
Cowboy Mike Keever