Wednesday, April 25, 2007


It's time to get moving on something that Tom Dougherty had suggested when I saw him a few months ago...

Frank "Slivers" Oakley, the single greatest and most influential American circus clown of his generation, has been languishing in an unmarked grave in NYC for almost 100 years now and it's high time someone gave the man a marker befitting his enormous contributions to American circus clowning.

That someone really should be us.

So I throw this open to the floor: Does anyone have any suggestions on how to best raise the funds necessary to get Slivers a really world class monument?

I'm open to any and all suggestions on this one.

If this project is successful there are two far more cheerful and less expensive ones that I'd like to embark on before year's end.


Mike Naughton said...

What is the financial goal? I'd contact the cemetary first and determine the "allowable" marker size, etc. The cemetary will also have a list of "approved" monument makers and installers.

You will probably need a concrete "base" or footing and then the marker. I think an older cemetary would have very restrictive size limitations, thus narrowing the marker to one on the smaller, therefore less expensive model.

The marker's style should be in keeping with the markers used when Slivers died. A modern marker would not be appropriate.

I'm taking a guess that you would be looking at the $3,000 range.

There will probably be a charge to the cemetary for "installation", a charge for preparing the gravesite for the footing, the footing itself, the monument itself, the monument istallation and the engraving charge. It's NY so don't forget TAX.

Having grown up in a large Irish family with lots of elderly relatives, this discussion and its information was always a favorite subject to hash out over a cup of tea.

Woodlawn Cemetary in The Bronx was a favorite of show folks, Vern and Irene Castle; James A. Bailey and Oscar Hammerstein are all there. If they were all alive they'd be playing to standing room only houses.

Gary said...

Corporate sponsorship?


Anonymous said...

What Mike says makes sense to me on the eastern side of The Atlantic.
A few years ago we had the same sort of problem in that the grave of Jimmy Scott (ex Bertram Mills and just about every other circus of note) lacked a head-stone. An appeal was launched to raise sufficient funds, and it didn't take long!
The difference is that Jimmy was of recent memory, so known to many people, and loved by them.


Mike Naughton said...

From a showman's brain:

Big Apple publicity/photo opp: Have Fumagalli place a floral memorial on the new headstone prior to opening day in New York this fall.

Caption in the paper:
"Europe's beloved clown, Fumagalli, making his American debut, pays tribute to one of America's greatest clowns, Frank Oakley. Big Apple opens tomorrow night, good seats available as late as showtime."

Mike Naughton said...

Just a second...this could be done with either Big Apple this fall or Ringling next spring. Since Tom will be on Ringling next spring it might be more appropriate for Tom to do the "ceremonial wreath" placement.

When I suggested Big Apple I was thinking about the earliest possible chance for a photo opp.

Pat, also to consider: is there a clown convention/gathering anytime soon in Metro NYC?

What cemetery is it? Please note, I've corrected my spelling of cemetery. Now I'm working on correcting my stationary/stationery.

dazzy said...

Hi All,

Darren here,

Im looking into Jimmy Scott, as i came across his headstone in a local churchyard, St Nicholas in Boston.
Can you shed any light on him for me and perhaps his history? was he born in Boston, or did he just die here?
Was his headstone really bought by fundraising?
I would appreciate as much info as you are willing to give.