Saturday, January 27, 2007

Photos of Funny Felix

Felix Adler was the consummate American three-ring circus clown in the first half of the 20th century, an asset to the Alley in the ring, on the track and as a "picture clown", as these photos show. Felix was also instrumental in schooling many young clowns in the classic Ringling/Barnum style.

He wasn't called "The King" for nothing!

Willie, West & McGinty: NBC Comedy Hour 1/21/51

When Marion Spitzer, chronicler of vaudeville’s golden era at the great Palace Theatre in Manhattan, asked ten distinguished critics and aficionados to assemble their dream bill for the Palace, the act most frequently mentioned (7 out of 10) was Willie, West & McGinty. Known variously as the “The Comedy Builders,” “House Wreckers,” “Comedy of Errors” and “A Billion Building Blunders,” they were a sure-fire act in the USA and the United Kingdom.

Personnel changed with the decades. It began as a gymnastic duo but soon took on a third member, and it remained a trio for most of its 50 plus years on the boards. The act was a carefully calibrated and timed ‘ballet’ of inept workers creating a shambles instead of the building they were supposed to construct. Fortunately, they committed their act to film several times.


For more info on Willie, West and McGinty please click the title of this post to order Volume IX, Issue 1 of
Vaudeville Times

Friday, January 26, 2007

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday wishes go out today to two of my favorite performers...

Mr. Ron Jarvis, seen above in the early 70s sharing a sandwich with Frankie Saluto, and Ms. Dolly Jacobs (daughter of Lou Jacobs) seen on Big Apple as well as her performance (along with cameos from Bubi and Jule, Jim Tinsman and Barry Lubin as well as proud "Papa Lou") at the 4th annual Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo. Her roman ring act is, to me, probably the single greatest American circus act of the modern era...

Bill Strong sends this photo (along with Happy Birthday wishes from himself and Trudy) that clearly illustrates what sets Dolly apart from other performers...

There are 20 horses waiting to make their entrance on back track of this huge arena but I bet your eye gravitates towards the tiny figure with the perfect posture making her exit in the dark on front track. That's Dolly at the Tarzan Zerbini Detroit Shrine date.

Pedro and Dolly's show, Circus Sarasota (featuring Greg and Karen DeSanto), opens Feb. 2nd with tickets available online at

A very happy birthday to you both and many, many happy returns.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Ladies and Gentlemen, the polls are now open and votes are being taken for the 1st annual Felix B. Adler Awards for American Circus Clowning.

Cast your votes in the following catagories:

1) OTTO GRIEBLING AWARD: solo circus clowning

2) PAUL JUNG AWARD: for ensemble circus clowning (duos, trios, alleys)

3) LOU JACOBS LIFETIME ACHEIVEMENT AWARD: Awarded for a lifetime's work dedicated to the advancement of American circus clowning.


Nominees for the Griebling and Jung awards must have appeared in an American CIRCUS, or a CIRCUS that worked within the 50 United States or their territories, in the year 2006.

Nominees for the Jacobs award must have careers in circus clowning and/or teaching that span a minimum of 20 years.


Votes should be sent to:

only one vote per email address account will be accepted.

Winners will be announced here during halftime of Super Bowl XLI.

Sa-So on Hamid-Morton

Sa-so, a fixture in the Hamid-Morton Alley of the 50s, makes the cover of the program for this 1954 PBA sponsored date.

Ruth, Peggy and Kathy

Ruth Chaddock, Peggy Williams and Kathy Herb together in a photo from the 107th edition Ringling show.

Ft. Worth Shrine Circus Clown Alley 1953

It looks like pro clowns Eddie Dullam, Jojo Lewis, Kinko Sunberry and Happy Kellams and a few others are joined here by a few locals and Shrine clowns in this photo from the 1953 Shrine Circus in Ft. Worth, TX.

The Three Stooges on Ed Wynn

The Stooges appearance as meddling television executives driving Ed Wynn crazy on an episode of Wynn's early (1947-48) Emmy award winning TV show.

Monday, January 22, 2007

George Carl on Hollywood Palace

George Carl (introduced by Jimmy Durante as "One of the World's Funniest Dancers"?!?), performing pre-Microphone Act, on Hollywood Palace.

Does anyone know the name of the piece of music Mr. Carl used as the end of his act?

Harry Dann?

Further evidence that the picture from last week was, in fact, a very young Harry Dann, here's another photo of the same clown working with one of Harry's favorite kind of comedy partners, a trained performing duck.

Frankie Saluto

Frankie Saluto in a photo which looks to have been taken at the annual charity performances at Bellvue Hospital in NYC that Ringling used to do during their lengthy stay at Madison Square Garden each spring.

Danise Payne

When's the last time you saw a clown finish to a standing ovation at an American circus performance?

Ladies and Gentlemen, Ms. Danise Payne at the UniverSoul Big Top Circus in 1994.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

L & H's Culver City Locations

From Mark Evanier's blog, NEWS FROM ME:

"I live a few miles from a portion of Los Angeles known as Culver City. Although it's presently going through a heavy influx of new businesses and structural upgrades, there are still a lot of old buildings in Culver City, which makes it a delight for us Laurel and Hardy buffs. The Hal Roach Studio was located there and though it's long gone, you can still spot a lot of the street locations where Stan and Ollie filmed. Several are strikingly identifiable from their old films even 70-80 years later.

Piet Schreuders is a designer and pop culture historian. Not long ago, he did extensive research of the area, as you'll see in this clip. You'll also see a little of what he did with it, which was to create a computer model of the main streets of Culver City, regressed to the era when Laurel and Hardy filmed there. This runs a little less than five minutes and some of it is in Dutch but you'll get the idea. Thanks to Don Brockway for sharing this with us."

European Musical Clowns on Hollywood Palace

Herb Alpert introduces European musical clowns the Sorolettis (sp?) on a mid-sixties episode of Hollywood Palace.