Saturday, June 07, 2008

CLOWN ALLEY: Sells-Floto, 1931

Photo courtesy of Bill Strong

Just because this photo appeared in the 1931 Sells-Floto program it doesn't necessarily mean that these are actually the clowns that appeared on that show that year.

American circus programs from that era are notorious for reprinting photos from other shows (usually Ringling/Barnum) in their programs.

SCOTT & MURIEL: Monte Carlo 2008


And now, some of the items from the International Clown Hall of Fame's Mark Anthony collection...

Felix Adler's pet pig, Amelia.

Note that Amelia is not depicted smoking a cigarette. That is an unfortunate trick of the light on the glass of the display case.

A very lifelike skunk

A similarly realistic rabbit

Mark's trunk

And Mark. That's right, this is the urn containing Mark's ashes.

Mark "Mark Anthony" Galkowski's earthly remains are a permanent part of Hall of Fame's collection.

I would like to create a more reverential display setting for when the ICHOF moves to their permanent home.

In other news...

Drew "Drew the Dramatic Fool" Richardson visited the ICHOF yesterday and got the Cashin-guided tour of the collection and a chance to look through some of the files with me. We found some very interesting old press shots of Joe Jackson Jr.

The visit was cut short when we recieved word that a tornado had touched down nearby and was headed for downtown Milwaukee. We did what any sensible person would do; we got in our cars and drove away.

I have lived the first 40 years of my life without ever dealing with tornadoes even once. Now I've had two near misses in the last three months! of Summer Circus

The Taste of Summer Circus had the usual light audience for the first show but the biggest audience so far for the second show, which went very well. We are hoping that the families come out in full force for our three shows today.

After the show the cast visited a local German restaurant and a great time (and much shnitzle) was had by one and all!

Friday, June 06, 2008


It gives me great pleasure to announce that members of "The Academy" and the family of Lou Jacobs have decided the recipient of the 2008 Lou Jacobs Lifetime Achievement Award.

The 2008 award goes to ICHOF inductee Michael "Coco" Polakovs.

Mr. Polakovs has been invited to the Clown College 40th Anniversary reunion in Baraboo, WI this September where he will receive the award in a special ceremony at the Circus World Museum.

Congratulations, Coco!


Props belonging to Dimitri

The costume that Roy "Cooky" Brown wore as Bozo's longtime partner on WGN's Bozo Show.

One of Keith Crary's amazing costumes

Wardrobe belonging to Ms. Ceslee Conkling

Pro Knows creator Leon "Buttons" McBryde

And last, but certainly not least...Giovanni "Nino" Zoppe

I spent some more time at the ICHOF yesterday going through the files to make sure that only information pertaining to that person was in that particular folder and then arraigning the files alphabetically to make them easier to find.

The Taste of Summer Circus performed two shows yesterday but the entertainment on the main concert stage was Great White and Brett Michaels of Poison so there weren't a lot of families there.

There were alot of 40 and 50 year olds dressed like it was 1988. I don't ever want to hear anyone from Wisconsin make fun of New Jersey during the heyday of 80s hair metal! The number of men sporting unrepentant mullets and women prowling the fairgrounds dressed like Lita Ford's older sister (or Mom) proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is something in the water (or possibly the cheese) around here that needs to be looked into.

Mr. Bill, Michelle and their kids treated me to a great piece of salmon (and unlimited peanuts!) at the local Texas Steakhouse after their shows were finished. A great time with a great family. I never get tired of talking clowning with other clowns!

JOEL HEIDTMAN: Mac vs. PC Commercial Parody

From my friend Joel Heidtman, Clown College graduate, former Ringling road clown and Clown College instructor...


I recently made a commercial for The Gaming Standards Association, "an
international trade association that creates benefits for gaming
manufacturers, suppliers, operators and regulators. They facilitate the
identification, definition, development, promotion, and implementation of
open standards to enable innovation, education, and communication for the
benefit of the entire industry."

I have NO IDEA what any of that actually means... I just got the call for
the gig.

The video is a parody of very popular the PC vs. Mac commercials. In this
video I am "SAS", the outdated version of the gaming software that
apparently was the standard for a while. My "system" is being replaced by
G2S - the new industry standard.

I guess the agency that called me thinks that I look like a nerdy PC type.
(In the past they have always called me for juggling gigs). I am the guy on

Here is the link:

Enjoy... I hope!



Joel Heidtman


George Carl in the 1970s Swedish television special "Clowns" shot at Circus Scott.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

BOBBY KAY: Autographed Photo

ICHOF Inductee and Ringling Master Clown, Bobby Kay


Some of the few "international" artifacts that are currently on display in the ICHOF's temporary home just outside of Milwaukee in West Allis, WI at the Tommy G. Thompson Youth Center at Wisconsin State Fair Park.

When the museum moves to it's permanent home soon much more of the collection will be properly displayed...

Grock (Charles Adrien Wettach)

Antonet (Umberto Guillaume) and Grock

A Benny Schumann poster

Arthur Pedlar

Arthur Pedlar's whiteface wardrobe.

Greg DeSanto and I spent yesterday morning going through the photo files and video tapes at the ICHOF, identifying photos, cleaning up files and viewing videos; pure clown nerd heaven!

Things are far from perfect but we left the place a little better than we found it and I plan to head back over there today to continue what we started.

I opened with the Zoppe show at the Taste of Summer Festival in Waukesha last night. Crowds were light and the first show was a little creaky. The second show was much better and the evening was much easier to get through thanks to Bill "Mr. Bill" and Michelle Machtel being there performing on the Kid's Stage.

Note to Greg and Karen: There is a Culver's right near my hotel!!!



Click the title of this post to view video of classic whiteface/auguste duo Vinçent & Roko in the ring at the Circus Raluy, Cornellà Barcelona, Spain and the Cirque Medrano in Marseilles, France.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

2008 TEBALA SHRINE CIRCUS: Rockford, Illinois

The poster for this year's Tebala Shrine Circus. A great photo of me, except I'm not doing that Hamid-produced date this year, Greg and Karen DeSanto are.

If anyone out there knows any of the members of the Tebala Shrine, give them my best, and ask them if they could email me a copy of the original photo. My wig looks great in that shot!!!


Felix Adler carved from foam by Mark Anthony

Otto Griebling carved from foam by Mark Anthony

Mark's statue of Bumpsey Anthony. It was made in the 70s and has a different look to it than the other two.

Chester Sherman and Joe Vani Sherman's costumes, wigs and shoes.

Glen "Frosty" Little's suit and shoes.

I'm heading back over this morning and meeting up with Greg DeSanto to dig through some more of the collection (clown "nerd-vana"!) before I open with The Zoppe Family Circus this evening.

If you find yourself in the greater Waukesha/Milwaukee area this week, stop by the Taste of Summer Festival and say hello to me at the circus tent as well as Bill "Mr. Bill" Machtel and his wife Michelle who will be working on the kid's stage!

And speaking of the Taste of Summer, very special thanks go out today to Kenny Ahern. Thank you for the heads up!!!


Another in the series of great Russian entrees posted to YouTube by "bak65".

The only information that I can translate on him tells me that his real name may be "Bakalov" and this may be his photo...

Does anyone have any more info on who this "bak65" might be?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


After landing in Milwaukee yesterday afternoon my first order of business was to finally visit the International Clown Hall of Fame in the Tommy G. Thompson Youth Center at Wisconsin State Fair Park.

For all I'd heard about the ICHOF oer the last few years I was braced for disappointment. What I'd found was that the ICHOF has more right with it than wrong.

Things are in flux right now as they prepare to move to a new location later this year. Plans are underway and grants have been written (and some accepted) for the collection to have a permanent home nearby.

Current director Terry Hall is working 25 hours a day to pay off any and all past debts, catalog the collection and generally get the ICHOF back into shape.

Since my performance schedule is a little lighter than during the week than I'd anticipated (and I'm not complaining about that at all), I hope to be able to get back over there a few more time before the weekend.

Here are some photos that I took with my cellphone camera from my first visit...

Mark Anthony, whose carvings of Felix Adler, Bumpsy Anthony and Otto Griebling are really something to behold.

A costume and wig belonging to Ringling Master Clown, Bobby Kay.

A little something from the Jack Le Claire collection.

A suit and hat from Prince Paul Alpert.

A very nice display for Barry Lubin

CLOWN MAX: Circo Ivano Medini

The whistle really completes the package!


From Mark Evanier's blog NEWS FROM ME...

Every Saturday this month, Turner Classic Movies is running a pair of the better Laurel and Hardy movies. These are not as available as they oughta be so you might want to set the ol' TiVo. This coming Saturday, it's Sons of the Desert, followed by Our Relations. The following week, it's Blockheads, then Swiss Miss. On the 21st, they're running Way Out West and A Chump at Oxford. And then on Saturday the 28th, we get The Flying Deuces and Saps at Sea. This coming Saturday's parlay is the best one but they're all worth watching.

Mr. Evanier's brand new book on the life and career of comic book legend Jack "King" Kirby, KIRBY: King of Comics is out now and clicking the title of this post will take you to it's listing.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

CLOWNALLEY.NET: Off to Waukesha

Thanks go out this week to the folks at the Kelly-Miller Circus for allowing the kids from Michael Rosman's Circus Camp to return for a second year and work the pre-show for their two performances in Reisterstown, MD.

I got to spend time with friends on the show and catch up on everything that's been going on in the last few weeks as well as meet up with circus historians/fans such as Dick Flint and Smitty.

Thanks also go out to Mike Rosman for inviting me to take part in the event again this year and for giving me the opportunity to test-drive my new costume (courtesy of Mikee Maroney) for the summer season.

The makeup is a little less labor intensive ; )

This is the new look that I'll be sporting when I sub for Giovanni "Nino" Zoppe with the Zoppe Family Circus this coming week in Waukesha, WI (just outside Milwaukee), so if you're up in that area come and see us at the big Taste of Summer Festival.

Lastly, thanks to everyone who bought a copy of the DVD (it greatly helped to offset my travel expenses) on eBay this weekend! The discs are packed up and will ship out tomorrow morning.

For all of those that were disappointed that they didn't get one of these 10 copies: I'll get some more dubbed when I get back home next week and I hope to have a second volume available in a few weeks.

I don't know what the WiFi situation will be like in Waukesha but I'm taking the macbook and expect that will continue uninterrupted throughout the week.



Link suggested by Mark Evanier

From Wikipedia...

The Playhouse is a 1921 film written and directed by and starring Buster Keaton. The movie runs for 22 minutes, and is most famous for its opening sequence in which Keaton plays every role.

The film is set up as a series of humorous tricks on the audience, with constant doubling, and in which things are rarely what they at first seem to be. It opens with Keaton attending a variety show. In this first sequence, Keaton plays the conductor of the orchestra, every member of the orchestra, the actors, the dancers, the stagehands, the minstrels, and every member of the audience, male and female. This elaborate trick-photography sequence turns out to be a dream when Joe Roberts rouses Keaton from bed. The bedroom then turns out to be not a bedroom, but a set on a stage.

Keaton's portrayal of nine members of a minstrel show required the use of a special camera shutter. It had nine exactingly-machined strips of metal which could be moved up and down independently of each other. Elgin Lessley, Keaton's cameraman, shot the far-left Keaton with the first shutter up, and the others down. He then rewound the film, opened the second segment, and re-filmed the next Keaton in sequence. This continued for each of the remaining seven Keatons. The camera was hand-wound, so the Lessley's hand had to be absolutely steady, with no variation in its speed. Keaton had to move meticulously in each of his appearances, so he relied on a metronome to guide him, not a problem in a silent film. It was decades before Keaton, who masterminded this, revealed his technique to other filmmakers.

The second half of the film features Keaton's character pursuing a girl who happens to be a twin, and he can't remember which he has fallen for. The film also stars, uncredited, Virginia Fox as one of the twins and Joe Roberts as another actor and stage manager. Edward F. Cline co-wrote the production and appears, uncredited, as a monkey trainer, whose monkey Keaton impersonates after accidentally letting him escape. The impersonation is stunning in Keaton's movements and expressions. The facial markings contribute to the illusion, but it is his adopting of the mannerisms that give the scene its full impact.

The most famous quote from the film is that of an audience member in the first part, played by Keaton. When he reads the playbill listing Keaton in every role in the play, he remarks to his wife, also played by Keaton, "This fellow Keaton seems to be the whole show." This was a gibe at one of Keaton's contemporaries, Thomas Ince, who credited himself generously in his film productions.

In interviews with Kevin Brownlow (published in the latter's excellent study of silent films, The Parade's Gone By, 1968, pp. 491-492), Keaton claims he gave the director's credit to Cline mainly because he didn't want to appear too Ince-like, himself! "Having kidded things like that, I hesitated to put my own name on as a director and writer."

JACK MICHAELS: Al G. Barnes, 1920s

It's difficult to make out the signature but it looks to be "Jack Michaels" on the Al G. Barnes Circus in the 1920s.

Felix Adler's earlier porcine successes in the field of circus comedy seems to have had some influence on Mr. Michaels' own career.

CLOWN ALLEY: Ringling, Undated

Gene Lewis (foreground) and Billy Ward (background) making up in the Ringling Alley in a photo that could have been taken anywhere from the late 50s to the mid 60s.

Since the little clown is not yet in makeup and has his back to the camera I can't say for certain who it is, but I suspect that it may be Jackie Gerlic.

JOJO LEWIS: Undated Photo


Edwin "Poodles" Hanneford performing his timeless riding act.

Poodles with his daughter Gracie in an undated photo; most likely an indoor Shrine date in the late 40s or early 50s.