Some photos and memories from the collection of Mr. Jeff Darnell...
This photo of Otto is from 1968. I was in second grade at the time. I started writing Clown College about that time requesting info about how to apply as well as begging for autographs from clowns. I got one from Otto first, and later one came from Coco that same year. I think the Coco photo is still at my folk's house in Greensboro. I will send you that when I can find it.
The other one is from 1970, I was in 4th grade and Coco, advance clown at the time, actually came to my school to visit me. I think this was cooked up by my mother, the promoter and the GM of the Greensboro Coliseum who new me and my family by then because I had become a fixture around the building and train yard when the circus came to town.
It was a wonderful surprise for the "shortest kid in school" and the turning point in my academic career. I was convinced that Clown College was where I wanted to get my "edumacation." Coco encouraged me to stay in school, however, (as a former advance clown, I guess that's what you're supposed to say to a kid) .... and go to college before trying to go to Clown College. But, being the rebel I was, I didn't heed his advice. I attended CC in 1978 right after high school and then to college after my stint with the Blue Show.
Maybe that's what fate had in store for me though. Doubts yes..... regrets no!
I'm only including the poster shot so you'll know what I looked like back in the 1900's. I was very humbled and honored to be included on the 110th edition poster with Prince Paul! Not sure I was worthy at the time... but it didn't stink! :-) I need to get a bigger scanner and I'm embarrassed that Prince isn't cropped very well.
I can't count the number of times I made my Dad drive up and down the road that ran parallel to the train yard where the circus train parked in the hopes of catching a glimpse of a "real" circus performer. That was always the highlight of the new year in February..... and it definitely helped to brighten a kid up with the post Christmas blues.
I lost my dad this summer and I'm so thankful for those days when we got to dream together about the things that kids like to dream about...... like, running away and joining the circus!
What great memories your website has brought to mind. Thank you Pat.
The act is Trio Munoz, and the video is shot at the 26th Monte Carlo International Circus Festival in 2002.This was the first Festival at which Bronze Clowns were awarded, and the act won a Bronze Clown.
The personnel:- Principal Auguste is Angelo Munoz (Portugal). I first saw him with his family's water act on Billy Smart's in 1961. He is now retired. His son Celestino ("Tino") handles the lighting for Germany's Cirkus Krone.
Second Auguste is Enrico Caroli (France) who is now virtually a permanent fixture with Circus Knie in Switzerland, usually as ringmaster or ring foreman, although he has taken part in riding acts. Both disciplines are in his blood, his grandfather being Enrico Caroli of the noted clown act Les Francescos, who started out as riders.
White-face is Orlando Arias (Colombia) of whom I hadn't heard until he joined Angelo. And I've heard just as much since Angelo retired.
Clearly the clip is cut to fit a 5 minute slot. I don't think it will spoil any enjoyment to say that it is necessary to plant something in the audience, thus creating a human plant. The gentleman here I do not recognise, but he plays his part very well. And to save you re-running the clip, the camera misses the switch.
Alfredo Landon and his Politically Incorrect Act Description: featuring Nino, Victor (we're trying to get last names for these two fine gentlemen) along with the man in Lou's Baby Carriage, the driver of Lou's Water Skiing speedboat, direct from Chile...Mr. Mike Padilla.
Clockwise starting top left: Javier "Peluza" Esparza, George "Sonny" Riley, The Sherman Brothers, Big Chess (Chester), & JoJo (Joe Vanni), Li'l Johnny ( John Cirillino), Acky (Al Ackerman, former acrobat) and Jimbo( James "Jimmy" Douglass) & Flip (Arthur Gallagher).
Has anyone out there in Vegas come across Peluza yet?
Photo courtesy of Robin Estes, from the Estate of Harold Ronk
From left to right: Albert "Flo" White (back to camera), Gene Lewis, Harold Ronk, Prince Paul Albert (face obscured) and Michael "Coco" Polakovs without his trademark baggy suit and sailor's cap, looking pretty sharp in his straw boater.
Photo courtesy of Ribin Estes, from the Estate of Harold Ronk
Whoever said that circus performers never sit on the ring curb facing out must have forgotten to tell Otto as he sits down to read the L. Frank Baum classic and kick off the Wizard of Oz spec in the late 60s.
The photo is personally autographed from Mr. Griebling to Mr. Ronk.
Photo courtesy of Robin Estes, from the Estate of Harold Ronk
Otto meets the new bosses; Judge Roy Hofheinz seems to be reasonably amused by Otto Griebling, one the greatest circus clowns of the 20th century. Irvin Feld looks slightly uncomfortable. Maybe the Judge was laughing so hard he spilled some of his Dr. Pepper on him.
Well dressed crowd though, all the dads in slick looking 60s narrow-lapelled suits and skinny ties. From everyone's thick black eyeglass frames I would have to guess that this picture was taken on "NASA Night" and the show was playing at Cape Canaveral to celebrate the impending moon landing.
Or maybe it was "Buddy Holly Look-A-Like Night" at the Garden?
Photo courtesy of Bill Strong Bill Strong answered a longtime question of mine when he sent this photo of Johnny Day. I'd seen a picture of Johnny a few years ago and wondered if it was Harry Dann or one of his numerous imitators but no one seemed to know anything about a clown with a Harry Dann-like makeup with a question mark in the center of his forehead.
Seems Mr. Day combined the makeup of Harry Dann with the sparkled nose and center-of-the-forehead insignia of Ernie Burch's "Blinko" makeup with Albert White's eyebrows thrown in for good measure. Eddie Dullam also used puncuation in his makeup: an exclamation mark in the center of his forehead. Eddie's makeup was an exaggerated adaption, but not an outright duplication, of Harry Dann's classic face.
So much for all that malarky you read about clown's never duplicating one another's makeup...
A New York Times article on Buster Keaton from about 1945-46 when he was a gagman at MGM for folks like Red Skelton. Of particular interest is the 2nd to last paragraph where he is asked who he thought were the outstanding stage comedians of all time. He lists Marceline Orbes, Slivers Oakley and Fred Stone.
In his autobiography he singles out Poodles Hanneford as the absolute best comedy acrobat he ever saw.
Remember, Buster grew up in show business and worked with and watched EVERYBODY!
High praise for the clowns and their craft from the undisputed master of physical and visual comedy.