Saturday, February 23, 2008

PAUL JUNG: Newspaper Articles

Scans courtesy of Bill Strong

This year will mark the 43rd anniversary of a horrible event, the death of Paul Jung.

Ringling's run at the Garden is now so short that I believe that they will have played the Meadowlands twice and already be in Philadelphia by then.

The impact of the loss of Paul Jung on Ringling clowning cannot be overstated. The last few years of the pre-Feld era as well as the early years Clown College would have been quite markedly different had events not transpired the way that that they did.

Aside from the tremendous loss of Paul Jung himself as a performer in the Ringling Alley, the loss of his unique genius as a prop designer and builder for others was a catastrophic event on the clowning of his era.

TITO PEREZ: Director de Cine


Friday, February 22, 2008


Frankie Schmitz, Producing Clown with the Gainesville Circus.


Otto Griebling in an undated photo with an unidentified child, possibly one of his daughters.


A perrenial favorite here at, here's another photo of Coco's Crazy Calcimers. This shot is from the end of the act when Coco scoops Kelley Anne Holmes up in the wheelbarrow.


Today's posts will be delayed.

We're a little busy right now.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Photo and comments courtesy of Mike Naughton

Diamond Jim Parker posing in Michu's carriage behind the arena during the Clown College 20th Reunion, Venice, Florida.


Photo courtesy of Bill Strong


Photo courtesy of AUCIRQUE

Mr. Yann Rossi, classic whiteface of Les Rossyann, on Wereldkerstcircus at Theater Carre in Amsterdam, Holland.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Very happy 29th birthday wishes go out today to the Grand High Exhaulted Mystic Ruler; The King of Soap himself, Mr. Greg DeSanto. Mr. DeSanto is respected from sea to shining sea (and as far away as Morrocco and Hangzou) by those "in the know" not only as a performer but also as a clowning director and historian.

If Feld Entertainment were still bestowing the title of "Master Clown", I can think of no one more deserving of the title.

I wish that I'd been able to post the video I've been working on, but the camcorder that I use to transfer video into the mac has died and so my birthday gift will have to wait a few days.

Sorry, Brother Raccoon.

Now, in honor of Mr. DeSanto's birthday, let us all now gather and sing our Alma Mater...

From the hallowed streets of Greenpernt,
To the shores of Sheepshead Bay,
From the Verrazano Narrows,
To Canarsie across the way...
We have come together, one and all,
In fellowship to commune,
And to glorify the Grand Exalted
Brotherhood of Raccoons.

Fingers to fingers, thumbs to thumbs, watch out below, here she comes.

CHARLES POST: Undated Photo

Photo courtesy of Bill Strong

An undated photo of Charles Post.

To view Bill Strong's excellent circus blog YESTERDAY"S TOWNS please click here.

DUANE THORPE: On the Track

Shamelessly stolen without any permission whatsoever from the MySpace page of Greg DeSanto

Uncle Soapy doing exactly what it was that Uncle Soapy did best.

Magical. Classic.

Bob Hunt is the whiteface about to pass behind him on the unicycle.

This is what my favorite Ringling clowning will always look like to me: clowns on the track, before the show, during the show, during the intermission... clowns on the track.

Slaps, falls, juggling, explosions, 108s... all on the track.

Now the rings are gone, the track is gone, the wigs, noses, shoes, props, the Clown College... a lot has changed in the last 10 years.

It's now supposedly "hipper", "edgier" and market research has molded it into something "more in step with today's audience". That may or may not be but it's very unlikely at this point that it will ever be this timeless, simple and purely joyful again.

1ST NY CLOWN HANG: Wednesday February 1, 2008

Photos courtesy of Brian Foley

The Big Apple Circus' Mark Gindick hanging with The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus' Keith "Kinko" Nelson

Background: Former Big Apple Circus announcer, NY Goof and Red Nose NY co-founder Joel Jeske hanging with the NY Downtown Clown Revue's Christopher Lueck.

Middleground: Mark Gindick hanging with Downtown Clown and Spiegelworld's Amanda Pekoe.

Foreground: R. David Robinson hanging with Keith Nelson.

You know that really great, very funny "What? Who? Me?" look that Mike Smith does in some photos? Yeah. Don't try for it unless you're sure that you are going to hold it until the photographer actually takes the picture. If you relax your face before the flash goes off you just come out looking like I do here.

From left to right: John Manigrasso, Writer/Producer for Showtime Networks, me and the "Cat in the Hat", fellow Guinness enthusiast Robb "Mr. Robb" Zeiser.

Keith Nelson shows off "The Finger That Made New York Famous" as John Manigrasso shouts something underwhelming to Amanda who ignores them both.

Unseen in these photos: Circus Bambouk's Matthew Duncan and Brian Foley.

The next "hang" is rumored to be scheduled to take place at the palatial beachfront estate of the lovely and talented Ms. Brendolyn Swanson.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Photo courtesy of Bill Strong

CLOWN ALLEY: More With Milton

Scans courtesy of circusbutterflygirl

Last week we saw, courtesy of Greg DeSanto, a Hy Gardner column from the Roanoke Times dated May 21, 1970 that featured Milton Berle with several members of the Ringling Clown Alley.

Today we see, courtesy of circusbutterflygirl, two other Hy Gardner columns, one from the Salina Journal in Salina, KS dated August 5, 1969 (featuring a different photo from the same photo op) and another from an unidentified source date May 28, 1970 with wider version of the first photo.

And this info comes to us from Michael Karp, who can be seen on the far left in all three photos...

The photo itself reveals less than meets the eye! It is a living example of the old PR dictum, often quoted by George Burns: "If the legend doesn't agree with the truth, print the legend!"

For example: the clipping is dated May 21, 1970.

But the photo itself was taken in the summer of 1969, at the Inglewood Forum outside of Los Angeles, and was merely a straight-ahead photo op.

Jack Ryan of Solters and Sabinson, who handled the show's national PR, simply hustled several of us out of the alley, shot the photo and whisked Berle away!

Contrary to what's implied in the caption, there was no sitting around with Berle shooting the breeze, telling stories of legendary vaude performers, dissecting comedy...nor any CC Graduation appearance!

The photo became a "stock shot" to be used for whatever publicity hook Ringling's various press agents could come up with!

The photo first ran in the LA Times during our run in Inglewood...Now, a couple of weeks later, in Long Beach, the paper there ran a "Local-Boy-Makes-Good" story on Scott Bryan and used the same photo.

BUT! Since the article wasn't about Berle, they cut ME out of the photo entirely, and pasted MY face on Milton Berle's body!!!!! Berle wasn't mentioned in the caption at all!

(Scott tells me he has a copy of that photo; maybe he could post it's a hoot!)

I often wanted to send a copy of that photo to Berle and tell him, "With your body and my head, we could really go places..." Thank God I never did!


Brazilian Leandro Calado and company.

To find out more about MimiCalado please click the title of this post.


A David Cash photograph of Dick "Rocko" Lewis (r) and partner performing in the Moeller Hippodrome of the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI.

This must have been towards the end of Mr. Lewis' long career, the very late 50s or very early 60s, as he passed away on a Texas Shrine date during a break from his performing at the CWM.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Link suggested by Raffaele de Ritis

The great Leonid Engibarov in the 1960s, the first of the soviet "mime-clowns".

I remember seeing the blow-off trick with the cane, hat and vest being done by Charlie Frye on the Ringling show when I was growing up.


Comments and link suggestion courtesy of Raffaele de Ritis

From Raffaele...

I vaguely remembered that he tried to be funny before turn himself into an intellectual.
I finally have found the confirmation.

The young Slava Polunin in his piece "Tango".

Don't miss the audience's reactions at the end.


Scan courtesy of Marcelo Melison

Both Bill Strong and Marcelo Melison seem to feel that at least one of the clowns in last Friday's Mystery Clown photo from the 1947 Kansas City Police Circus was Ray Cosmo, seen here lower right.

Ray had a good run on the Shrine circuit but never became a "householdname".


Photo courtesy of the Food Network

Look, if you'd rather send your homemade cookies to Rich Potter than to me that's one thing but will you please stop taunting me about it!

To find out more about my friend Chris Allison and his wife Gina, The Cookie Nazi ("No cookies for you!") please click here.

ODD-O-T's ENTERTAINMENT: St Augustine Record

Link suggested by Don Covington

Former Ringling Blue Show performers David Kiser, Thom Wheaton and Zoe's parents Todd and Timea Zimmerman got a nice write up for their recent library show in the St. Augustine Record. You can read the article here.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

MYSTERY CLOWN: John A. Strong Circus

Mystery clown in an undated photo taken on the John A. Strong Circus.

Was this the same show as the Big John Strong Circus?