Saturday, June 09, 2007

MITCH FREDDES: Mitch and Friend

I came back to my hotel room last night after a grueling three show Friday (a one o'clock show? On FRIDAY?!?) to find a very nice message from Mitch Freddes thanking me for posting those photos of him yesterday.

You're welcome, Mitch. Anytime!

Here's another that really spotlights the very special magic that Mitch possesses. It's great to be able to "play big" but it's just as important in today's circus to be able to "play small" for the meet & greet. Mitch is a master at both. He is, every inch, a "real" clown.

RINGLING: Adler and Jerome

A 1935 Ringling press photo, which looks to have been taken outside the old Madison Square Garden, featuring Felix Adler (l) and Paul Jerome (r). The woman is unidentified, but I my guess is that it is Lola Dobritch.

Does this photo scream "CIRCUS" or what? Just throw an elephant in there and it would be an all-time classic!


My friend Giovanni "Nino" Zoppe, "The Clown Prince of Italy" and the youngest inductee ever to the International Clown Hall of Fame performing his comedy trapeze act at the Melha Shrine Circus in West Springfield, MA.

"Nino" can currently be seen with Circus Flora but clicking the title of this post will take you to the Zoppe Family Circus website where you can view his full schedule. Catch him if you can, he's well worth it.

And tell him I said "Hi"!

Friday, June 08, 2007


I owe Mitch Freddes a very sincere apology for omitting his name from my discussions of the Slivers Oakley Project. I always credit Tom Dougherty, but that is because I had the original conversation with Tom backstage when I saw them on the Gold show a few months back.

Mitch deserves to be mentioned as well and will be from now on. He has done quite a bit to continue to preserve Slivers' memory and maintains a correspondence with Slivers' grandson.

In an effort to make it up to him, here are a series of photos of Mitch (and one with Tom) making up in the Gold Unit Alley and getting ready to show the audience exactly what classic Ringling circus clowning is all about: strong, appealing character, exemplary comedic skills and timeless material performed with unique style and flare.

And Mitch does that better than just about anyone working anywhere today.

BOZO HARRELL: Mystery Solved!

Photo courtesy of Marcelo Melison

"Hello there Pat:
I'm almost one hundred percent sure that the Clown in the above photo, who looks like Emmett, is this guy, Bozo Harrell. He was a burlesque comic and he was doing some circus clowning in the '40s and '50s..."

I would have to agree. The resemblance is uncanny.

Bozo Harrell looks like he might be the tramp clown that I've seen working with Olsen & Johnson on a lot of their early television dates. Among other bits, he performed a very quick midget car gag that combined elements of Lou Jacobs, Kinko Sunberry and Bobo Barnett's routines on an episode of the Steve Allen show that I saw at the Museum of Television and Radio (now called "The Paley Center for Media") in New York.

If he had a background as a burlesque comic, I'd bet dollars to donuts that it's got to be the same guy.

Thanks again Marcelo!!!

Anyone else out there have any info on Mr. Harrell?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

CLOWNALLEY.NET SHOP: Slivers Mug & T-Shirt

We've added an official Frank "Slivers" Oakley CLOWNALLEY.NET mug and t-shirt to the CLOWNALLEY.NET shop to help raise funds for The Slivers Oakley Project which will attempt to provide Mr. Oakley a grave marker.

The shop is open 24/7 and can be accessed by clicking the title of this post or the CLOWNALLEY.NET SHOP link under "Links" on the right hand side of this page.


Photo courtesy of circusbutterflygirl

Though identified here as Emmett Kelly, I don't have any photos of Emmett wearing a wig (after his Weary Willie character was fully developed) and I've never heard of him doing a drag routine. While it does look like Emmett's face from this angle, I'm pretty certain that it's not him.

Anyone out there recognize him? I think that it may be famous Middle Eastern Emmett impersonator Ahmet Kahli.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Photo courtesy of Bill Strong

From Bill Strong comes this undated photo of Charlie Hilderra, a member of the Alley on the Clyde Beatty Circus.

Please click the title of this post to visit Bill's blog YESTERDAY'S TOWNS.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


From Marcelo PEPPO Melison...

"About "Rumpy"... The correct spelling of his name is PRYSTANSKI. There is a nice article about him in the first issue of the Canadian magazine "The Funny Paper", page 20, Summer edition, July 2000... Wait a minute: according to the article, tomorrow, June 5, it would be his sixtieth birthday !!!. Is that a coincidence or what?. (The article says that he passed away in November 1993, and that he was born in what is now Thunder Bay, northwestern Ontario)."

Thank you very much for the info! What a strange coincidence. He must be looking down and reading the blog ; )

It gives me great pleasure to wish Mr. Roger "Rumpy" Prystanski a very, very Happy 60th Birthday by posting this Bill Ballantine pen & ink of him (cropped from a drawing of the entire Clown College class of 1969) from Bill's book CLOWN ALLEY.

Happy Birthday Rumpy! The Garden show just hasn't been the same without you.

If you get the chance, please say hello to the rest of the Alley up there for us and tell them to stop by too!


I've opened a CafePress store in an effort to start the fundraising ball rolling so that we can begin work on getting Frank "Slivers" Oakley a headstone by the end of 2007.

Our 2008 project will be to get Otto Griebling a star at the Madison Square Garden Walk of Fame, with another for Lou Jacobs as our goal for 2009.

Please click the title of this post to be taken to our new online store.

And if anyone knows how to center the logo on the header of this page, PLEASE let me know :)

Monday, June 04, 2007


The very influential and much imitated neat whiteface Harry Dann in fedora and sportcoat, yet strangely sans pants.

You'd think such a well known "picture clown" would have put on a pair of pants for this photo.

At the very least the lady in the Mother Goose hat should have reminded him that there was a photographer behind him and a strong wind might expose his "tuffet".


Some members of the alley of the Detroit Shrine Circus from what looks to be the 1960s...

Larry Cross and Billie Burke

John Toy

Kenny "Tweety" Dodd

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Concerning the posting from April 25th about Tom Dougherty's suggestion that we make an effort to gather funds for a proper memorial marker at the burial site of Frank "Slivers" Oakley comes this message from Gene Wolande, Los Angeles screenwriter and relative of Mr. Oakley...



Saw your April Blog and wanted to forward what information I have regarding the research I have done on Sliver's cemetary/gravesite.

Attached are files of what I have pasted below.

Please keep me posted on progress....would appreciate it... Any help I can be, I will do my best.

And how are things going for you?

Take care hope to hear from you soon.

Gene Wolande