Saturday, August 18, 2007


I had planned on posting an excellent, very rare, video that I had been saving to appropriately commemorate CLOWNALLEY.NET's 1,000th post but that one will just have to wait.

This video arrived in the mail this afternoon.

It's 1969 Ringling Alley footage. Just a quick sweep across Clown Alley, past several early Clown College grads (and Bill Ballantine), before the camera stops on a young whiteface who quickly realizes that the cameraman is not interested in him, he's shooting Otto Griebling as he puts on his makeup.

And just about nothing makes me happier than finding footage that I haven't seen of Otto Griebling.

Friday, August 17, 2007


I stopped by the NY Goofs Ultimate Goof School yesterday at the Flea Theater, 41 White St. in NYC and caught up with head goofs Dick Monday and Tiffany Riley, Gautham Prassad, Brian Foley, Laura Kendrick and her beautiful baby daughter Pearl (named after Laura's mother, Pearl Bailey) and instructors Hovey Burgess, John Lepiarz and Jay Stewart.

Since I owe Jay $10., here's a photo of him and a link to a great article on what he's been up to recently if you'll just click on the title of this post.

CLOWN ALLEY: The Firehouse Gag, Ringling 1989

Video courtesy of "Super Steve" Copeland

The 1989 118th Edition Blue Unit Clown Alley performing the Firehouse Gag on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I believe this is the last time the Firehouse was (or likely will ever be) performed on the Ringling show.

At this point the Ringling Alley could do one entire edition of the show loaded with classic gags (Firehouse, Boxing, Washerwoman) not seen there in almost a generation.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


The King is Dead!

Long Live the King!

And Long Live His Spec Wardrobe!


Jonathan "Mitch" Freddes performing his barrel act on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Gold Unit a few years back.

The prop was given to him at Ringling Clown College when Mitch was a student there in 1974 by Lou Jacobs.

Lou had gone with Bill Ballentine a few years earlier and purchased some props from Glen "Kinko" Sunberry, a longtime circus clown now retired. The prop sat waiting for the right student and when Mitch came along Lou taught him a few of the moves and Mitch created this act which has served him well with circus audiences for many years.

Just proving that a great prop, and great clowning, never go out of style.


Kinko Sunberry and that same barrel at the Toledo, OH Grotto Circus in the 1950s.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


A photo of circus clown Eddie Dorey, circa 1912.

Is this the inspiration for, or a reaction to Felix Adler's padded posterior?

FUMAGALLI: More Fumagalli

Fumagalli at a circus festival in Moscow.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


In addition to apearing in a very well received stage show in Pittsburgh with Dramatic Fool Drew Richardson, my friend Jeff "Le Clown Gordoon" Gordon has just come back from visiting Amman, Jordan with Pittsburgh's Zany Umbrella Circus and teaching at the Amman Children's Museum, where he was joined for a week by NY Goofs Hilary Chaplain, Dick Monday and Tiffany Riley.

He'll be headed to China for a huge international festival with AEMI in October.

If you click the title of this post you can view a wonderful piece done on him recently by PBS that features several minutes of interviews and masterful performance.

CIRCUS KNIE: Les Rossyann

Longtime stars of the Cirque d'Hiver Bouglione, here's a recent shot of Les Rossyann on Circus Knie.

BOZO ROW: Los Angeles Magazine

Photo courtesy of Ron Jarvis, comments by Billy Baker

From the 1981 Los Angeles Magazine photo shoot here are the ex-Red Unit Ringling clowns of "Bozo Row"

STANDING: (left to right) Billy Baker, Ed "Smitty" Smith

IN FRAME: (Top to bottom) Kevin Bickford, Dolly (Spann) Baker, Robin Shaw-Bickford, Jimmy Briscoe, Ron Jarvis and Daniel Rogers


Billy Baker describes Bozo Row...

"I arrived in Hollywood in 1978, and ended up managing an apartment complex, that within a year or two, was full of Ringling rejects coming to Lotusland to try their luck. Out of 12 units, 10 were filled with Ringling grease paint comrades. There were also many, who passing through were adopted or too broke to go elsewhere. It was a circus train that never left the station."


THAT must have been SOME party!

Monday, August 13, 2007


Dr. L.C. Holland, a dentist and an amateur clown. He was a good friend of Felix Adler's (to the point where Felix either gave him old costumes or patterns) who used to clown with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus doing walkarounds during his two weeks of vacation from his practice each year back in the 1940s.

Strangely, I've never seen a photo of Dr. Holland performing the Dentist Gag, only walkarounds.


Video courtesy of Buldajay

Mooky (Laci Endresz Jnr) from England's Blackpool Tower Circus exploring the further evolution of the Spotlight Gag.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES: Rain or Shine (1930)

Comments courtesy of Aaron Neathery

One of the best early talking feature comedies and a record of both his greatest Broadway success and his numerous talents, Joe Cook plays circus manager Smiley Johnson who is forced to become a one-man circus when his performers go on strike in this scene from "Rain or Shine", released this week in 1930 and directed by Frank Capra

Joe's formidable juggling skills were documented repeatedly, but this is the only footage I've seen of his balancing and wire-walking abilities. Dave Chasen, later of Chasen's Restaurant fame, plays stooge for Joe in this sequence. He's rather like a less-subtle, talking Harpo Marx.