Saturday, April 12, 2008

FROM JERRY JAY: Hoxie Bros. w/ Pepo

Photo courtesy of Jerry Jay

From my new CircuSpace friend Jerry Jay, here's Jerry with Pepo on Hoxie Bros.

Dig that purple truck!

CLOWN ALLEY: From the Circus City Diner

From the wall of the Circus City Diner in Hugo, OK comes this wall hanging that looks as though it may have been done by a local sideshow banner artist.

Featured are: Paul Jerome, Larry Cross, Albert White, Gene Lewis, Ernie Burch and Charlie Lewis.

MYSTERY CLOWN: From Bill Strong

Photo courtesy of Bill Strong

If I had to guess, I'd say it was one of the Hanlon brothers based solely on the eyebrows but I could be way off.

Anyone out there know this one?




Browsing the site, I noticed that Bill Strong had sent a photo of an unidentified clown. That clown is Tom Sink, from Ohio.

Arte Bausman

Friday, April 11, 2008


The clown "Wall of Fame" at Slappy's Puppet Playhouse in Dallas, TX, owned and operated by Dick Monday and Tiffany Riley.

I had just enough time to make it to the Galleria, visit the Playhouse (unfortunately Dick and Tiffany weren't there) and grab some lunch before I had to hightail it to the Dallas Hilton to meet up with my sister-in-law for dinner before flying home.

My son Shane saw a show there a few months back and still raves about it.

For more on Slappy's Puppet Playhouse please click here. For more on Dick & Tiff's NY Goofs (and their Ultimate Clown School) please click here.

CLOWN ALLEY: From the Circus City Diner

Found on the wall in the Circus City Diner in Hugo, OK this is a photo of Lou Jacobs and Emmett Kelly leaving the massive RBB&B big top tent.

This must have been taken between 1943 and 1947 when Robert Ringling was in charge of the the Big One and reverted to it's traditional, light-colored, big top.

When JRN returned to the helm in 1947 he brought back his darker big top, seen in the film The Greatest Show on Earth.

SEPARATED AT BIRTH?: Wade Burck and Peter Criss


You'll be a Hard Luck Woman, baby, 'til you find your man.

Sing "Baby Driver"!



MITCH FREDDES: Teeterboard

Jonathan "Mitch" Freddes, Clown College class of '74 and veteran of the RBB&B Red and Gold units (among other circus accomplishments) seen here performing during the "All-Access Pre-Show" of the Ringling Hometown Edition.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Yesterday we featured several videos of legendary Disney performer, Wally Boag. Today we spotlight Gene Sheldon, who you may remember as the clown in films such as Toby Tyler and Three Ring Circus with Martin & Lewis...

Here's another clip from the Perry Como Show with the same intro...

Two clips from Disney's Babes in Toyland...

CLOWN ALLEY: From Robin Shaw

Photo courtesy of Robin Shaw-Bickford

Earl Chaney, Bob Casanova and Billy Vaughn 1973.

LOU JACOBS: August 16, 1960

A photo of Lou taken many, many years before but published again on August 16, 1960.

This photo was used in the artwork on the cover of the program about this time, but with Paul Jung's head in place of Lou's.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Photo courtesy of Robin Shaw-Bickford

Keith Crary, Kevin Bickford and Billy Baker.

From Mr. Billy Baker himself...

I have full head of hair which dates this photograph to be the Super Bowl of 1988, at Kevin's house, adjacent to the old Bozo Row apartment dwelling.

I was in Los Angeles (on winter's leave from Dollywood) working on a writing project when this was taken. I remember it as if it were yesterday. Don't remember much about the game but we were always more entertaining anyway.

MIKE BOURBON: Beatty-Cole, Undated

Photos courtesy of David Powell

LOU JACOBS: October 2, 1957

The little boy in this photo is older now than Lou was when the photo was taken.


From Wikipedia

Boag was born to Wallace B. and Evelyn G. Boag. He joined a professional dance team at age nine, later established his own dance school, and by the age of 19 had turned to comedy. He toured the world's stages in hotels, theaters and nightclubs. While appearing at the London Hippodrome in Starlight Roof, he brought a young 12-year-old girl on stage to help with his balloon act. The girl, a young Julie Andrews, astonished the audience with her voice and was kept in the show. In 1945, Boag signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and appeared in films such as Without Love and The Thrill of a Romance, albeit uncredited.

In the early 1950s, while appearing in revues in Australia, he met tenor Donald Novis. It was Novis who got Walt Disney to audition Wally for the Golden Horseshoe Revue, a 45-minute stage show which was written by its first pianist Charles LaVere and lyricist Tom Adair. Novis was the show's first tenor and was replaced by Fulton Burley when he retired in 1962. Both Wally and The Golden Horseshoe Revue were cited in The Guinness Book of World Records for being the longest running revue in the history of show business. The 10,000th performance of the Golden Horseshoe Revue was featured on NBC's The Wonderful World of Disney.

Boag's Pecos Bill/Traveling Salesman character was a fast-paced comedy routine featuring slapstick humor, squirt guns, a seemingly endless supply of broken teeth which he would spit out throughout the routine, and his signature balloon animals (Boagaloons).

In 1963, Julie Andrews once again performed with Boag on the Golden Horseshoe stage along with the Dapper Dans, at a special press-only event to promote the following year's release of Mary Poppins. Together, Andrews and Boag recreated their act of long ago and sang "By the Light of the Silvery Moon."

While Walt Disney was alive, he did everything he could to further Wally's career. Boag voiced Jose in "Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room" and also wrote much of the script for the attraction, participating also in the development of "Haunted Mansion" in Disneyland.

Disney had small roles written for Wally in The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber. It was Disney's intention to use Wally as the voice of Tigger in Winnie the Pooh, but Disney died in 1966 and the role ultimately went to Paul Winchell.
In 1971, Wally took his Pecos Bill character to the newly-opened Walt Disney World and re-crafted the saloon show into a faster, funnier Diamond Horseshoe Revue. Three years later he returned to Disneyland and finished his career there, entertaining adoring crowds at the Golden Horseshoe, retiring in 1982. The Golden Horseshoe Revue closed in 1986. In 1995, Wally was inducted into the ranks of the Disney Legends and has his own window on Main Street in Disneyland above the Carnation Company. The inscription reads "Golden Vaudeville Routines - Wally Boag - Prop."

Wally's performances have influenced many later performers and comedians, most notable of whom is Steve Martin, who studied Boag's humor and timing while working at Disneyland as a teenager. Boag's performance appears on Week One of the Mickey Mouse Club DVD collection, and the soundtrack of the Golden Horseshoe Revue has been released on CD.

Wally is currently working on his autobiography, entitled "The Clown Prince of Disneyland", which is to be published in 2008. He lives in California with his wife, Ellen Morgan Boag.

RUFFLES: Being a Whiteface Clown

This should answer just about any question that you might have.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

LOU JACOBS: September 1, 1961

Further proof that the three classic clown types were not solidified in the United States until Clown College in the late 1960s: Here Lou Jacobs, America's preeminent grotesque auguste, is identified as a "character clown".

BEATTY-COLE: Jimmy Douglas

Longtime Beatty-Cole Producing Clown Jimmy Douglas.

Monday, April 07, 2008

CLOWN ALLEY: Carson & Barnes, Music Box Gag

File under: Spaghetti

LOU JACOBS: With Billy Merchant

Lou Jacobs and Billy Merchant in a 1961 photo that is one of the best that I have ever seen of Lou and his car.

More Lou photos tomorrow!


TOP: Source Unknown BOTTOM: RBB&B 117th edition

JOE VANI: Obit from the Cincinnati Enquirer

Link courtesy of Don Covington

Inducted into Clown Hall of Fame


MILFORD - Old clowns don't retire. When they can no longer do pratfalls, they still work hard to make people laugh.

That held true with Joseph Robert Vani. When he approached 90, he told funny stories to visitors at the International Clown Hall of Fame in Milwaukee. He used a walker, but his eyes twinkled. He could still make people laugh.

Mr. Vani - thought to be the world's oldest professional circus clown - died March 21 at Meadowbrook Care Center in Montgomery after breaking his hip. The Milford resident was 94.

He was "sharp as a tack and a real fast wit," said his niece Marlene Lorenz of Twin Lakes, Wis. He was "always kidding around with everybody."

Mr. Vani performed with Chester Sherman, a Greater Cincinnati native, as the Sherman Brothers from 1937 until 1975. In one popular routine, a clown gobbles hot dogs he has stolen from a clown vendor. He gets sick and when his stomach is pumped by clown doctors, out pops a little dog. The clowns take a bow and exit followed by the dog walking on its hind legs. Audiences roared.

The Sherman Brothers were inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame in 1995. Their clown wardrobe and effects are prominently displayed.

Mr. Vani was born in Chicago. His father, a firefighter, was trampled to death by runaway horses while responding to a fire. Because his mother was unable to care for him and his three brothers, Mr. Vani was sent to an orphanage until the sixth grade.

In his teens he answered an ad for an acrobat with the Kenneth Waite Trio. He performed with Waite and Chester Sherman for several years until Waite retired. He and Sherman put together a clown act and entertained across the United States, Mexico and Canada.

"When they weren't on the road, they would be back at Chester's house" in Greater Cincinnati, said Lorenz. "When he joined the circus, he just became very close to Chester's family and they treated him like a son for most of his professional life with Chester." After Sherman died in 1976, Mr. Vani moved to Covington. He had lived in Milford for the past 20 years.

Mr. Vani used to play Santa Claus at Shillito's downtown. About 10 years ago, he became the adopted grandfather to a local first-grade class. Each spring he took the class to the Shrine Circus, his niece said.

"He just had the best attitude about life," his niece said. "His favorite thing to say was 'Everything is wonderful.' He had lost his vision. He had a very bad back and knees - probably from the hardships of clowning. But he never ever complained.

"He'd say, 'If I had it all to do over again I'd do it exactly the same.' "

Survivors include a brother, Frank Vani of New Port Richey, Fla.; and other nieces and nephews.

Services have been held. Burial was in the cemetery at St. Alphonsus Church in New Munster, WI.

Memorials: Shriner's Hospitals for Children, 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607-1460.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

VANCE COLVIG: Bozo's Got a Secret

Link and comments courtesy of Mark Evanier

The guest in this segment of I've Got a Secret is Rodney Dangerfield but that's not what's interesting about it.

His secret involves a gentleman named Vance Colvig. Actually, his name was Vance Colvig, Junior. His father (Vance Colvig, Senior) was also known as Pinto Colvig, the voice of Goofy and many other classic cartoon characters. Dad was also the original Bozo the Clown, initially on records and then on early television.

Later, Vance Junior became a Bozo. He was Bozo the Clown on Los Angeles TV, appearing every weekday on KTLA, Channel Five from 1959 to 1964.

He was also an occasional cartoon voice, most notably playing Chopper the Bulldog on the Yakky Doodle cartoons for Hanna-Barbera. Later, he did all sorts of film and TV acting jobs and for some reason, usually wound up playing a wino or derelict. One of his last roles — as a bum, of course — was in the Weird Al Yankovic movie, UHF. Anyway, if you were a fan of anything he did, here's a rare chance to get a look at him.

To visit Mr. Evanier's excellent blog NEWS FROM ME please click the title of this post.

ALFREDO RASTELLI: Hugo Public Library

Alfredo Rastelli from a European circus book found at the Hugo Public Library.

LES BARIOS: French Television

The Barios, sans makeup, in the 1960s performing on the French equivalent of Shindig/Hullabaloo/Where the Action Is/American Bandstand.