Saturday, March 01, 2008


Congratulations go out today to two of my favorite people in the whole wide world, Lara and Mike Smith, who I've been told are expecting their 22nd child.

It isn't widely known but the reason that Kenneth Feld chose to close Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College in 1998 was that extensive research informed him that, rather than training young clown hopefuls, it was actually more effective to begin his own specialized breeding program.

Mr. Feld selected his very funniest and most virile of male clowns and his very best female picture clown, had them legally married, and let them roam free to breed at his new Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Clown Conservation in Kooskia, Idaho.

In this way Kenneth Feld was sure to have only the best looking, funniest clowns for the The Greatest Show on Earth®.

Jay and Kristin Stewart have been breeding beautiful whiteface cubs in the wild in various locations on the east coast for the last few years. I believe that the plan is to team each of these rare whitefaces with the Conservation Center's herd when each set reaches peak comedy potential.

Below is information on the Conservation Center's program...

A lifelong symbol of The Greatest Show on Earth®, the American circus clown is a respected and revered member of the Ringling Bros. family. In the interest of the species’ present and future well-being, the Ringling Bros. Center for Clown Conservation was established in 1998. Located in Kooskia, ID, this 200-acre, $5-million, state-of-the-art facility is dedicated to the conservation, breeding and understanding of these amazing performers.


Endangered species? Not if we can help it. With only a small handful of professional American circus clowns remaining in the world, circus historians and bloggers agree that it requires programs such as the Ringling Bros. Center for Clown Conservation to ensure the American circus clown population is guaranteed a long and safe future.


Threatened by the severe habitat encroachment of "featured clowns" (also known as "power clowns") in their usual spots, the Ringling Bros. Center for Clown Conservation provides a safe, healthy environment where American circus clowns are secure and comfortable. Our breeding program is one of the most flourishing of its kind, with twenty one births thus far.


Built upon the 137 years of experience and expertise of working with circus comedians, the Ringling Bros. Center for Clown Conservation has become a global focal point for the study of American circus clowns. The Ringling Bros. Center hosts researchers, academicians and conservationists to create new dialogue focused around clown care, conservation and health and to exchange knowledge. Experts from around the world visit the Ringling Bros. Center to study the American circus clown, including Dr. Bruce Banner, Professor at Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology, Dr. Nick Riviera, American circus clown expert and "Zippo", Belgian Party Clown and Chotchky Collector.

Why the Ringling Bros. Center for Clown Conservation?

With less than a handful of American circus clowns left in the American circus industry, and the opportunities outside of production numbers of those in the wild increasingly threatened, captive breeding programs like the one at the Ringling Bros. Center for Clown Conservation are vital to the future survival of this amazing species.

"A concerted effort to save the American circus clown is imperative. Cruise ships and China trips are doing their best with the resources they have, but most can't afford to maintain a large breeding group of clowns. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Clown Conservation is dedicated to saving the American circus clown and has both the resources and the commitment to succeed."
---Axel Foley, Director Emeritus, Donniker-Breath Circus

Quote from Dr. Troy McClure, AVPA (American Variety Performers Association) President, “Guidelines such as those issued by the PRCA and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus can serve as effective models for other groups and individuals using clowns in entertainment.” The article in JAVPA on June 1, 2003 went on to say, “…he visited the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Clown Conservation. He was impressed by the clown welfare guidelines and quality of animation DVDs provided by The DeSanto Center for Circus Comedy in Baraboo, WI, as well as the importance their staff placed on classic Warner and MGM cartoon watching for early comedy developement and well-being.” McClure added, “We must encourage the highest level of comedy education and welfare for all clowns, irrespective of their purpose.”

Ringling Bros. clown trainer Rusty Shackleford explains, "Because of the long tradition we share with our clowns and their integral role in our shows, it's important for Ringling Bros. to create entertaining and learning experiences for families to see first hand how intelligent these magnificent American circus clowns are. The kids here today will never forget seeing an American circus clown up close and personal and for a lifetime will have a better sense of our shared responsibility in protecting and caring for clowns, especially those who are whitefaces."

"The circus clown has always been a symbol of The Greatest Show On Earth®. The Ringling Bros. Center will ensure that people will be able to experience the joy and wonder of American circus clown up close and personal for generations to come." ---Kenneth Feld, Chairman and CEO Feld Entertainment

Friday, February 29, 2008


Link courtesy of jm5star

A insightful interview with Bindlestiff Co-founder Keith Nelson by Christopher Lueck. Video Tape by Jim Moore. Keith talks about his life on the road and starting a Cirkus company in the worst time in NYC's history.


Otto Griebling with wire service reporter Lee Belser in 1958.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I just got back home from my Clown Doctor duties at Jersey Shore to find that, in the very short month of February has already received over 10,000 hits and almost 22,000 page views for the month.

Thank you!


Voting will begin in the 2008 Felix Adler Awards this Saturday, March 1st, 2008.

Voting will continue through Monday March 31, 2008.

The winners will be announced on April 1st, 2008.

Voting will take place in the following two categories:


PAUL JUNG AWARD: For Duo, Trio or Ensemble Clowning

The LOU JACOBS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD will henceforth be voted on privately by members of "The Academy" and will be presented with the involvement, approval and at the discretion of the Jacobs family.

It is the decision of "The Academy" that the rules for this year's awards shall be:

1) The FELIX ADLER AWARDS are given to American or foreign circus clowns working in the United States of America between January 1st and December 31st, 2007.

2) It is the decision of "The Academy" that American circus clowns performing abroad between January 1st and December 31st are eligible for a 2007 "Felix".

3) It is the decision of "The Academy" that BOTH editions of the Big Apple Circus that appeared during the calendar year 2007 are eligible.

4) Ballots for the 2008 FELIX ADLER AWARDS will now be tallied by the accounting department at Mformation Technologies of Edison, NJ.

5) Information of how to cast your ballot will be announce tomorrow morning.

Congratulations once again to the 2007 winners, Tom Dougherty, Greg and Karen DeSanto and Barry Lubin and I look forward to watching Jay Stewart roast the 2008 winners ; )

PEPPI: Jay Miller Circus, 2007

JOE SHERMAN: In the Hospital in Cincinnati, OH


I wanted to let you know that Joe Vani, (Joe Sherman of the Sherman Brothers) is ill and in the hospital in Cincinnati. He suffered a broken hip and has been moving between the hospital and a nursing home. A bout with pneumonia brought him back to the hospital yet again.

Joe will be 95 this year on June 12th. He's at Bethesda North Hospital on Montgomery Rd. in Cincy.

I'm sure Joe would love to get some cards and letters.

His home address is:

Joe Vani
29 Tabaleen Lane
Milford, OH 45150

The address at the hospital is:

Mr. Joe Vani
Bethesda North Hospital
10500 N Montgomery Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45242

The Red unit opened in Cincy today. I'm hoping to get word to Bello that Joe's ill. They're good friends.

Please pass the word that one of the last great American clowns of the past is ailing.

Arte Bausman

WALTER GUICE: Janette Rainwater Series

Photos courtesy of Michael Rainwater

More from the Janette Rainwater series; here's someone that I know almost nothing about other than that he spent several years with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Walter Guice.

CARL STEPHAN: Janette Rainwater Series

Photos courtesy of Michael Rainwater

Another performer that I have no biographical information on, Carl Stephan.


New York Downtown Clown offers 2 workshops in March!

#1- March 3rd Clown Playground- Classic Clown Acts Video Presentation

The video presentation will be one hour and 30 minutes of classic
circus clowning from around the world, culled from hundreds of hours
of film and video that Pat Cashin has collected over the last 25

The March video presentation features:
Tom & Tammy Parrish, Lou Jacobs, The Rastellis, Walter Galletti, Otto
Griebling, The Pickle Family Circus clowns (Bill Irwin, Geoff Hoyle &
Larry Pisoni) , Barry Lubin, Jeff Gordon, George Carl and Charlie

WHEN: Monday, 3/3/2008, 9-10:30pm
WHERE:440 Studios, 440 Lafayette St. (btwn Astor Place and 4th St. and
across the street from The Public Theater.) Studio 4E, on the 4th Fl.
FEE: $10

Space is limited for the playground, so reserve your space by emailing them at


#2- Slapstick Dojo Starting March 5th!

As seen in BACKSTAGE Summer Training Spotlight!

The focus of this class is instruction and development of comedy
trips, falls, slaps, kicks and comic uses of props. This is an ongoing
class with rolling open admission. The class operates similar to a
yoga or martial arts class, where students of all skill levels are
encouraged to come to "work out" and further develop technique. Each
class will include instruction in specific skills and exercises that
will teach students the methods and moves of slapstick greats from
silent films, circuses, and contemporary physical comedy.

To sign up email them at info@...

Class taught by Joel Jeske and Christopher Lueck.

WHEN: Every Wednesday of the year from 6-7pm, Starting March 5th,2008.
WHERE: West Side Dance Project - 260 W 36 Street, 3rd Floor.
FEE:$15 per class or $50 for a month pass.

For more information on these classes visit

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


An udated photo that looks to be Chester Sherman minus his longtime partner Joe, performing a verbal gag into the mic on an outdoor dates.

BILL HANLON: Janette Rainwater Series

Photos courtesy of Michael Rainwater

More of Janette Rainwater's portraits of the 1954 Ringling Alley, these of William "Bill" Hanlon.

Bill, and his brother Fred Hanlon were descended from the famous Hanlon-Lee family of comedy acrobats.

From Wikipedia...

A group of pre-Vaudevillian acrobats founded in the early 1840s, the Hanlon-Lees were world-renowned practitioners of "entortillation" (an invented word based upon the French term entortillage, which translates to "twisting" or "coiling") – that is, tumbling, juggling, and an early form of "knockabout" comedy (later popularized by such groups as the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges). The troupe consisted of the six Hanlon brothers and their mentor, established acrobat Professor John Lees.

Originally billed as "The Hanlons," the group debuted in 1846 at London's Theatre Royal Adelphi. At this time, the company consisted of George, William, and Alfred Hanlon, who were essentially wards of John Lees until his death in 1855. After his demise, the Hanlons returned to England and enlisted their younger brothers – Thomas, Edward, and Frederick – and rechristened themselves "The Hanlon-Lees" in honor of their fallen friend and instructor.

The newly expanded troupe made its American debut in 1858 at Niblo's Garden in New York City, and spent the next four decades touring the United States and Europe. As their skills improved, their performances became more elaborate. When Jules Léotard introduced the trapeze in 1859, for instance, the Hanlon-Lees quickly adapted to the new device; their next production, Le Voyage en Suisse (A Trip to Switzerland) contained an aerial juggling sequence that stunned Emile Zola, who expressed utter astonishment at the vast number of airborne objects.

The Hanlon-Lees also patented several inventions, including the aerial safety net and a wooden brace used in the construction of scenery (which is to this day referred to as a "hanlon").

Despite the death of Thomas in 1868, the group continued to perform regularly until the early 1900s, at which point George Hanlon's sons Will and Fred assumed control of the company's repertoire. They would carry the company successfully into the 20th Century, going so far as to appear on film for Thomas Edison in a production entitled Fantasma. The Hanlons would endure for another four decades, adapting their acts for vaudeville and finally appearing in the Clown Alley of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

In 1979, six American performers sought out the final living descendant of the original Hanlon brothers and asked for her blessing upon their new company, dubbed the Hanlon-Lees Action Theater. This modern incarnation of the original troupe is best known for pioneering and refining a theatrical form of medieval jousting, an event which the company continues to perform at Renaissance festivals in the United States. The modern Hanlon-Lees also performs Western-themed shows such as fantasy rodeos and cowboy exhibitions.

POODLES HANNEFORD: Fare Enough, 1928

Comments and link courtesy of Aaron Neathery's THE THIRD BANANA

Kit Parker Film's Weiss-O-Rama has to be about the most Third Banana-y DVD set I've ever purchased; a collection of late-era silent comedy shorts from the low-budget Weiss Brothers' studio starring Ben Turpin (his last series), Snub Pollard (likewise), Jimmy Aubrey, Bud Duncan, circus clown Poodles Hanneford, and others. Three of the Hairbreadth Harry shorts are also included, letter-perfect adaptations of C. W. Kahles' wonderful comic strip, although, sadly, little is made on the DVD of the series' funny page origins.

Of particular interest to me are Poodles Hanneford's comedies. Poodles was primarily famous for his uncanny equestrian act and holds a Guinness record to this day for for performing a running leap onto a galloping horse, and then stepping off, twenty-six times in quick succession.

Each of the DVD's three Hanneford shorts include at least a few of Poodles' circus routines, most notably Circus Daze (1928) which features much of his equestrian act, albeit modestly (and unnecessarily) tricked-up. The severely disjointed Fare Enough (1928) stars Poodles in a much more traditional vein as an inventive Keatonesque underdog (and is that an uncredited Arthur Housman as one of the drunks?). While not possessing any great depth of character as a film comic, he's certainly engaging and, frankly, a more impressive and promising all-round talent than more famous names like Ben Turpin and Snub Pollard!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


A very happy 29th birthday to the man who led the American circus into the "age of blogging" and continues at it's forefront, Mr. Buckles Woodcock.


The Kelly-Miller Circus' 2008 season will begin on March 15th in Hugo, OK and the clown from opening day through April Fool's Day, April 1st will be... me!

Here's some scoop about the all-new 2008 edition of the show from David Hammarstrom's blog SHOWBIZDAVID...

A touch of Ringling magic has moved to a town called Hugo. Today, if lucky, you might spot John Ringling North II gearing up his staff for the second Kelly-Miller season operated by a real Ringling ... And from an anonymous source comes a prediction that what’s about to depart Hugo would delight the late Cliff Vargas: “All the pieces are there” is a promise that makes me wish I owned my own private jet, so I could swoop down and take in the grand opening on March 15 ... Jim Royal, by the way, who does the Concello thing for North II, before that served a number of seasons as production unit manager for Big Apple. Among the editions he supervised was Picturesque, a show I found quite wonderful (at least 3-1/2 stars wonderful). Jim reflects on the modern era: “It always seemed to me that the themes of the show never overwhelmed the performance. BAC never got too ‘high brow.’ Picturesque had many artistic references that some of our audience members appreciated. For those who didn’t catch them, that didn’t intrude on their enjoyment of the show.” Royal gave the climactic teeterboard Kovgars, who flew fast and last on the bill, the Royal attention they well deserved, heading for the main tent “damn near every show just to catch their act.” Great taste, Jim ...

The show, being owned by John Ringling North II, makes me the first American circus clown to work for an actual member of the Ringling family in 40 years!

There have also been discussion of me joining the show for some East Coast dates and doing some advance this summer but those are still in the works. So if you are in the Hugo, OK or Dallas/Forth Worth area be sure to come on out and say "hi" and, if you lower your expectations, you might just enjoy some of the classic-style hokey corn that I'll be selling.

Proud to be a real "Ringling Clown",
Pat Cashin


News flash!!!

Dateline: Hugo, OK...

Ladies and gentlemen, will be making a big announcement concerning the clowning on this season's Kelly-Miller Circus at 8:00 PM this evening!

Be sure to check back then!

CHARLIE BELL: Janette Rainwater Series

Photos courtesy of Michael Rainwater

Charlie Bell and a canine companion (Trixie? Peanut?) from the series of photos by Janette Rainwater.

OWEN MCQUADE: Janette Rainwater Seies

Photos courtesy of Michael Rainwater

More from the Janette Rainwater series, these were marked as "Duffy" and look to be Owen McQuade.


The charivari (comedy vaulting) act that strongly influenced all others to come, The Stupids.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Photo courtesy of Michael Rainwater, article scans courtesy of Bill Strong.

Paul Jung, Nov. 27, 1954 at the Winter Quarters of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Sarasota, FL by Dr. Janette Rainwater.

This is one of a series of color photos of Ringling clowns both in and out of makeup that was shot on spec., hoping that they could be sold to Ford Times or Friends (the Chevrolet give-away magazine), but they never found a buyer. The photos have been unseen since.

There were a few folks who had asked for a better scan of one of the articles from the other day, there were also some folks who asked why I was posting this unpleasant information at all.

I prefer to remember Paul Jung for the extremely gifted circus clown that he was, not for the sordid details of his passing, but think that this information (as disturbing and awful as it is) is a part of Jung's story and should be told.

The Hotel Forrest, friendly to musicians, actors and other performers, as it appeared in 1946.


A brief glimpse of Doodles the Clown (a.k.a. William Lauder McAllister) who appeared at the Blackpool Tower Circus 1915-1944, as well as Hengler's and Zalva's, Kelvin Hall Circuses & Bostock's Zoo.

This is taken from the 1934 film Sing As We Go.

For more on Doodles please click here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Artist: BarbBarcikKeith

Age: 61

City: Maple Heights

Country: United States

12×18 grey matboard, original sold.

Completed 1996