Diamond Ring for Otto GrieblingBEQUEST OF DENVER, COLO. LAWYER TO SAD FACED CLOWN
From Peru Republican, April 20, 1951. Hobby Bandwagon, Vol. 6, No. 5 (June), 1951, p. 7.
Sitting upon the floor and knitting a sweater the famous Peru clown Otto Griebling with Ringling Circus now in New York City was found recently by Sidney Fields, who writes under the heading "Only Human" in the New York Daily Mirror, as follows:Otto Griebling: A Grin Out of Any Grouch
Ten years ago a rabid circus fan died in Denver, and his lawyer spent the next three months hunting for a little clown. The lawyer finally caught up with the clown in Rochester, Ind., and showed him a portion of the will, which read:
"Because no one has ever made me laugh like the sad little tramp, Otto Griebling, I bequeath him my diamond ring valued at $500."
Over at the Garden the other day Otto sadly showed me the ring. This is his first year with the Ringling Circus. He's a round little man of 52 with woeful eyes, who has been in circuses for 38 years, and a clown for 31. Even experts like Emmett Kelly consider Otto a master at the serious art of clowning; and they will watch him to learn.
During his early days Otto was a trapeze man for five years, when they worked without nets. One day he fell 18 feet, and broke his leg. They said: "You're no good to us anymore," and gave him $5 and left him lying on the empty lot, crying. Four weeks later Otto was well enough to join another circus.
"Selling candy," he says. "But I was fired in five days. I happened to overcharge a lady. There's 5,000 people in the tent and I overcharge this lady. She happens to be the boss' wife."
And back in the early days he worked with Tom Mix who shot Otto in the leg during one performance. They were great friends - Tom was best man at Otto's wedding.Unclamping The Iron Jaw
Otto has three children and two grandchildren. After he and his first wife, an "Iron Jaw" who hangs from the circus top by her teeth, were divorced three years ago, Otto married a St. Louis real estate woman.
Another friend of Otto's was Jack Dempsey. They worked together when Dempsey and Carpentier were doing exhibition bouts for the circus.
"When we went fishing once," Otto says, "I pushed Dempsey off a bridge into the water. He got mad, so I got scared and run like crazy."
Otto arrived here from Germany by way of Yokohama. His mother come here alone after his father died. His brother, Emil, now a Wall Street man, worked his way over on a boat, and his mother thought Otto could do the some thing.
"I go to Bremerhaven and get a cabin boy job. Three days out to sea I ask the other boys when we dock at Hoboken. They tell me, we're out. We're going to Yokohama. So I have to go back to Bremerhaven. But this time I take the right boat."
His mother was about to make a tailor out of him, but Otto read an ad calling for an apprentice bare-back rider. He ran off and joined the circus. His boss whipped him every day, as part of the regular instruction. One day the boss sent Otto out with a five dollar bill to get one loaf of bread and one bottle of milk. Otto had never seen that much money before. He took off, and spent the next two years logging and farming in Wisconsin. Then he read an ad in the paper about the some circus he left.Delayed Errand
Otto went back. Before he saw the boss he bought two bottles of milk and two loaves of bread and brought them in with the right change of the late five dollars.
"He counts it very carefully and says: 'Now get to work.' He was strict, but he knocks it into me. He taught me everything, dancing, bare back riding, pantomine, juggling, the trapeze."
He never taught Otto how to be a clown. In fact, he told Otto: "Whatever you do, don't try to be funny. It's not in you." Otto says that settled it because the boss was always wrong. When Otto wanted to be right, he'd always ask the boss what to do and then do the exact opposite. So he become a clown, the unsmilingest clown in the world.
But with his studied sadness he makes a grin out of any grouch. He sits and knits in the ring, or gets his finger caught in a bottle, and manages to trip and kick himself in the mouth.
There's an apocryphal story about Otto, which he will not deny. One day his friends sent him to a psychoanalyst to find out why Otto never smiled. The analyst said:
"I know the cure. You go to the circus and see this clown, Otto Griebling. He'll make you laugh."
"Pardon me, Doctor, said Otto. "I'm Otto Griebling." The analyst sighed sadly and said: "Well, then there's nothing I can do for you."