Monday, December 07, 2009

IN MEMORIAM: Michael "Coco" Polakovs (1923-2009)

MICHAEL “Coco” POLAKOVS, 86, of Catlettsburg, Ky., husband of Hazel Fannin Polakovs, died Sunday in Kings Daughters Medical Center. He was a professional circus clown, “Coco” notably with Ringling Brothers. Funeral service 1 p.m. Friday, Neal Funeral Home, Catlettsburg; burial at Rose Hill Burial Park, Ashland, Ky. Visitation from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home. Contributions may be made to East Fork United Methodist Church Building Fund, 20100 State Route 3, Rush, KY 41168.

Michael “COCO” Polakovs


By David Polakovs

Michael “COCO” Polakovs, 86, of Catlettsburg, Kentucky, passed from this life Sunday to that great center ring in the sky, December 6, 2009 at Kings Daughters Medical Center.

Michael was born February 23, 1923 in Riga, Latvia. He was the son of the late Nicolai and Valentina Novikoff Polakovs. Michael was a professional circus clown for nearly 80 years. COCO is a third generation Russian circus clown, who achieved his fame in England where the family came while he was a youth. He was associated wit the Bertam Mills and Billy Smart Circuses in England, which later included tours of Europe. He came to the U.S. in 1953 to work for a limited time with the Mills Brothers Circus, before returning to England. COCO later joined Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus 8 years as advance man and goodwill ambassador. He developed several classic clown routines. He later became an independent working clown, sometimes acting as an advance performer with similar shows. Additionally Michael was a member of Greenhill Masonic Lodge 521.

Michael leaves behind Hazel Fannin Polakovs, his loving wife of 49 years, and six children, Graham Ahrhart, Sarasota Fl., Patty Dale Dalton her husband Perry Dalton, Ashland, Ky., Byron Laird, Pippa Pass, Ky., Bruce Laird, Ashland, Ky., Michelle Polakovs, Catlettsburg, Ky., and David Polakovs his life partner, Wayne Houck San Francisco, Ca., Five grandchildren Mike Ahrhart, Melody Dalton Hogsten, Christopher Dalton, Stephanie Laird Maynard and Amanda Laird, fivegreat-grandchildren, Emma Dalton, Kayla Rice, Cole Maynard, and Alex Ahrhart, and a sister Olga Kerr of England.

Preceeded in death by three sisters and one brother.

A funeral ceremony to honor the extraordinary life of COCO will be conducted Friday December 11, 1PM at Neal Funeral Home, Center Street in Catlettsburg. A message of inspiration will be offered by Pastor Richie Gindlesperger and Donnie McKenzie. Final rest at Rose Hill Burial Park, Masonic Rites will follow committal. Those wishing to call on the Polakovs family may do so Thursday evening from 6PM until 8PM and one hour prior to service time on Friday.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to East Fork United Methodist Church Building fund, 20100 State Route 3, Rush, Ky. 41168.

Our deepest and most heartfelt sympathy goes out to Hazel and the family.

Mr. Polakovs was a true master of his craft and the impact of his work, as a performer, instructor and as an inspiration, will continue to be felt throughout the international clown community for many, many years to come.


Anonymous said...

Coco was a great friend and my earliest inspiration in my clowning career. To Hazel and his family, our deepest condolences and you remain in our thoughts and prayers.

-Greg & Karen DeSanto

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, Coco was doing advance work for RBB&B. There was a small ad in the paper with a phone number so you could talk to Coco live and in person a couple weeks before the show came to town. I remember him being so gracious and friendly over the phone, not to mention funny! It was the thrill of my life at the time.

My heart goes out to his family. May he rest in peace.

Sandy Weber

Anonymous said...

This is a sad news that has been felt here in Belarus. I never had the pleasure to meet COCO, but he trained and worked side by side to my mentors Leon "Buttons" McBryde and Jim Howle. What a sad day it is for all who work and love the art form of clowning. On behalf of The Belorussian State National Circus in Minsk Belarus, our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to the entire family, friends and all who had the pleasure to meet, learn and call him a friend.

With deepest sympathy,
Miguel Angel Juan & The Belorussian State National Circus

Anonymous said...

Coco was one of my childhood heros! I'm so thankful that I had a chance to spend time with him and his family in Baraboo.
Pat, you and the Desantos were a blessing to all of us for getting Coco to Baraboo..... and for your quiet and gentle service in helping shepherd Coco around to the various festivities at the reunion. I am sad for our loss... and very thankful for Coco and his family.
This is another day that will live in infamy!
Please keep us posted on memorial details.
Jeff Darnell


Michael paid me the greatest compliment of my clowning career so far. I will never forget the short times we had together. Rest Well Friend, Rest Well.