Saturday, February 07, 2009


Happy 29th Birthday wishes go out today to my pal, Mr. Tuba Heatherton!

DOUGIE ASHTON: Photo in the Seats (1974)

RINGLING PR: Liberty Science Center in Jersey City Today!

Dan Berkley and I will be performing a Science of the Circus show to day at the Liberty Science Center 222 Jersey City Boulevard Jersey City, NJ (right in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty) at 1:00 and 3:00 PM to promote Ringling's upcoming appearances in Newark and the Meadowlands.


"Humans are not machines - we are something more. We have feeling and experience. Material comforts are not sufficient to satisfy us. We need something deeper - human affection."

BUSTER KEATON: "Pest of the West" (1938)

Buster Keaton attempts to serenade a senorita and discovers it's more trouble than it's worth. Made for Jules White at Columbia (same producer and studio as the Three Stooges) this is from Buster's first Columbia short"Pest from the West" made in 1938.

Knowing that he's going to be hit, and when he's going to be hit, but continuing to play on anyway makes this a "mechanical gag" (my own description, don't look it up) like Andy Kaufman's "Mighty Mouse", The Muppets "Mah Na Mah Na" or Ernie Kovacs' "Nairobi Trio" where the action continues "mechanically" despite some physical obstacle.

LE PETIT BONHOMME EN MOUSSE: Le Plus Grand Cabaret du Monde

Link suggested by Mike Naughton

Friday, February 06, 2009

BILLY LEVISHON: Kansas City Star (1962)

Billy Levishon (dressed for Coco's Painters and Decorators gag) and friend at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1962.


Photo courtesy of Robin Shaw-Bickford

That's Jimmy Graham in the back and Jimmy Briscoe on the right but who is that on the left?


"Time never waits but keeps flowing. Not only does time flow unhindered, but correspondingly our lives too keep moving onward all the time. If something goes wrong, we cannot turn back time and try again. In that sense, there is no genuine second chance."


Chaplin plays the role of a homeowner who, after a night on the town, comes home late, drunk and unable to find his key. He only wants to go to bed, but the inanimate objects around him prevent him.

For the next twenty minutes he staggers into, out of, and through the house in an inebriated confrontation with the house itself

One A.M. was a unique Charlie Chaplin silent film created for Mutual Films in 1916. 

It was the only film he starred in alone, except for a brief scene of Albert Austin playing a cab driver.

Directed by Charles Chaplin
Edward Brewer (technical director)
Produced by Henry P. Caulfield
Written by Charles Chaplin (scenario)
Vincent Bryan (scenario)
Maverick Terrell (scenario)
Starring Charles Chaplin
Cinematography William C. Foster
Roland H. Totheroh
Editing by Charles Chaplin
Distributed by Mutual Film Corporation
Release date(s) August 7, 1916
Running time 2 Reels (full length unknown)
c. 34 mins.

JOE E. BROWN: The Circus Clown Trailer (1934)

Joe E. Brown plays a dual role in The Circus Clown, as would-be circus entertainer Happy Howard and his rustic old father. When dad, a former circus man himself, disapproves of Happy hitting the sawdust trail, the boy does so anyway, smitten by a beautiful female bareback rider. So naïve is our hero that he doesn't realize that the "girl" is actually female impersonator Jack (Don Dillaway), who strings Happy along just for laughs. 

Once this plotline is straightened out, Happy becomes the hero of the day by substituting for a drunken aerialist -- and there is no more proud or enthusiast spectator than Happy's happy dad. If Joe E. Brown looks genuinely frightened in his scene in the lion's cage, he should; the lion affectionately pawed Brown during one take, resulting in six stitches in the comedian's arm. 

More serious than most Brown vehicles, The Circus Clown is distinguished by the star's spectacular acrobatics (the real thing -- no doubles), and by some excellent split-screen work during the "father/son" scenes.

Joe E. Brown - Happy Howard / His Father
Patricia Ellis - Alice
Dorothy Burgess - Babe
William Demarest
Donald Dilloway - Jack
Gordon Westcott - Frank
Charles Wilson - Sheldon
Harry Woods - Ajax
John Sheehan - Moxley
Bobby Caldwell
Spencer Charters
Ernest Clark
Ronnie Cosbey - Dickie
William B. Davidson
Tom Dugan
Poodles Hanneford
Earl Hodgins
Lee Moran

TOPPER MARTYN: Comedy Juggling and Magic

Link suggested by Mike Naughton

Thursday, February 05, 2009

ED WYNN: Piano Bike (10/27/1949)

Dinah Shore with Ed and his piano bike on The Ed Wynn Show.


"Circus Silliness" review by Chris Shelton

Andrew Scharff, Michael Rosman, Pat Cashin & Mark Lohr

Baltimore Entertainment
Chris Shelton

Hi All,

Just writing to say that myself and fellow clowns Keith Crabb, Brian Raboin, Brian's wife Noelle and daughter, Giavanna went to see "Circus Silliness: The Clown Symposium" in the Baltimore area this past Sunday. The first half of the show the performers were all kids, with some familiar last names: Ethan and Sophia Rosman (Recently of "Ellen Show" fame), Grace and Genevieve Lohr, and Veronica, Vonya, Valeria. Vayla, and Viahna LaMarra.

Sadly, missing from the cast was Shane Cashin. Shane was busy representing his school in the finals of a prestigious Spelling Bee contest! Congratulations Shane!

And all of the kids did a wonderful job in the show.

Two year old Giavanna was riveted throughout and so was I.

The second half performers were Pat Cashin, Mark Lohr, Michael Rosman, and Andrew Scharff. They did a first rate job and all worked well together. Pat's new character looks great! And his work with Andrew was very polished. Andrew's contortion was really cool. Mark did some wonderful physical comedy! And Mike was really great. His diabolo routine was the funniest I have ever seen (reminiscent of the style comedy of Andy Kaufman). Great job guys! Thanks for the entertainment and thanks for hanging around after the show (special thanks to Pat for making the extra effort to win over Giavanna...she was waving to you from the window as we left)!

Thank you, Chris! Your check is in the mail ; )

SANDY KAYE: Shanghai, China (2007)

The idol of billions, Mr. Sandy Kaye.



"We humans have existed in our present form for about 100,000 years I believe that if during this time the human mind had been primarily controlled by anger and hatred, our overall population would have decreased. But today, despite all of our wars, we find that the human population is greater than ever. This clearly indicates to me that love and compassion predominate in the world. And this is why unpleasant events are "news"; compassionate activities are so much a part of our daily life that they are taken for granted and, therefore, largely ignored."


Happy Birthday to yesterday's birthday boy, Jonathan Burns of The Showoff Show.

IN MEMORIAM: Erick Lee "Lux Interior" Purkhiser, October 21, 1946 – February 4, 2009

For Immediate Release:
February 4, 2009

Lux Interior, lead singer of The Cramps, passed away this morning due to an existing heart condition at Glendale Memorial Hospital in Glendale, California at 4:30 AM PST today. Lux has been an inspiration and influence to millions of artists and fans around the world. He and wife Poison Ivy’s contributions with The Cramps have had an immeasurable impact on modern music.

The Cramps emerged from the original New York punk scene of CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, with a singular sound and iconography. Their distinct take on rockabilly and surf along with their midnight movie imagery reminded us all just how exciting, dangerous, vital and sexy rock and roll should be and has spawned entire subcultures. Lux was a fearless frontman who transformed every stage he stepped on into a place of passion, abandon, and true freedom. He is a rare icon who will be missed dearly.

The family requests that you respect their privacy during this difficult time.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

BUSTER KEATON: Ringling Clown (1948)

Gary Cooper as Robinson Caruso and Buster Keaton as Friday performing a walkaround at a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus benefit show for to St. John's Hospital in Hollywood.


I'm not sending you any money.

I'm NEVER going to send you any money.

You can quit emailing me now.

CIRCUS SILLINESS: CCBC Theater, Essex, MD (2009)

Photos courtesy of the lovely Ms. Valeria Lamarra

Some photos from this past weekend's shows...

Andrew Scharff, Pat Cashin & Mark Lohr

Andrew Scharff

Michael Rosman

Pat Cashin as "Prof. Zudi Goosenagle"

Mark Lohr

Andrew Scharff, Mark Lohr & Pat Cashin (Michael Rosman booty shake not pitured)

The Cast

OLSEN & JOHNSON: TIME Magazine Article (1949)


TIME Magazine
Monday, Jul. 11, 1949

The studio audience recoiled under a shower of dried beans and pin feathers; then a covey of dead quail and a stuffed cow flopped down onto the stage. There were shotgun blasts, scampering midgets, severed arms, proscenium-climbing cupids and baboons in full cry. Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson, the rowdiest, slap-happiest zanies in show business, had moved into Milton Berle's time spot (Tues. 8 p.m. E.D.T., NBC TV) with their first television show.

Family Act: The Buick-sponsored, hour-long uproar offered explosive fragments of an act the comics have been working on for 35 years. It grew from the first prop they ever used — a brass rail to support their vaudeville rendition of Sweet Adeline. Today, their hundreds of props fill three baggage cars, their cast of 90 includes 35 stooges. For all its size, the show is still essentially a family vaudeville act. Johnson's pretty daughter, June, and his son-in-law, Comic Marty May, have leading roles. So does deadpan Ole's deadpan son, J. C. Olsen. Johnson's wife and Olsen's mother used to be in the act and are still on call. "We're more laugh manufacturers than comedians," says Ole Olsen, 56. "Our gags are kind of living cartoons with spoken captions. We operate on the theory that people want fun, fun and more fun. Mister, you can't stand still. Even when we make mistakes we make them enthusiastically."

Two nights after their television premiere, Olsen & Johnson unveiled their new revue Funzapoppin before 8,700 people in Madison Square Garden. Next morning the gun-shy critics produced mixed notices. "A gargantuan honky-tonk," sniffed the Time's Brooks Atkinson. "Olsen & Johnson would be practically scriptless if the Chinese hadn't invented gunpowder," grumped the Herald Tribune. "A cheerful nightmare," said the World-Telegram. Actually, Olsen and Johnson seem to be criticproof. Funzapoppin's predecessor, Hellzapoppin, was disdained by almost every critic, yet it ran for more than three years on Broadway.

Into the Parlor:
Last year Olsen & Johnson invaded Europe to satisfy a lifetime ambition to play in Scandinavia (Olsen is of Norwegian descent; Johnson, Swedish). They were so successful in London that the show never got to the Continent. One Hellzapoppin road company is still in England; another is touring New Zealand. Both men have invested their huge earnings (they grossed $227,000 in 16 nights in Chicago; $387,000 in 14 days in Toronto) in real estate and in such enterprises as a string of frozen-custard stands on Long Island and an ice-skating rink in California.

Though Olsen & Johnson did poorly on radio in the 1930's, they are confident about their TV future because "all our gags are ocular." The audience—under constant attack from live piglets, cakes of ice, skirt-blowers, chorus girls and clowns —has always been an integral part of their act. The comics have not yet quite solved the problem of framing their wide-ranging madhouse on TV's small screen. By using five television cameras (instead of the two or three used on most TV shows), Olsen & Johnson think they will be able to get the visual intimacy they need. Their only other problem, according to Chic Johnson: "We've got to figure a way of jumping out of the TV set and into people's parlors. It may take time but we'll do it."


"Just as rust, which arose from the iron itself, wears out the iron, likewise performing an action without examination would destroy us by projecting us into a negative state of existence."


This prime example of Soviet circus comedy from Circo Moscow includes one element that truly makes it quintessentially Russian...


THE THREE STOOGES: The Men Behind the Mayhem

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Information courtesy of Dave McKenna

Fifty years ago today, a plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson crashed in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Holly was the headliner of the Winter Dance Party tour of 1959.

The tour was promoted by Irvin Feld. 

Feld’s music promotion business, called Super Attractions, had its roots at a record store/drug store he and brother Israel Feld opened in 1940 on the 1100 block of 7th Street NW in Washington, DC.

By the next decade, according to to a 1956 story in the Washington Post, Feld’s music empire was grossing $5 million a year.

The Winter Dance Party, which had started about a week prior to Holly’s death, was a disaster even before the plane crash.

The tour bus lacked heat and broke down several times in the tour’s earliest days.

Holly’s drummer, Carl Bunch, was hospitalized with frostbite caused by waiting in the winter cold during one of the breakdowns, after a show in Duluth, Minn.

Two nights later, with Bunch still in the hospital, Holly and the other top acts chartered a plane with their own money rather than take a bus after the Clear Lake show on Feb. 2, 1959. That plane crashed a few miles after takeoff.

Other performers on the tour—including Dion and the Belmonts and the last version of Holly’s band, the Crickets, with bass player Waylon Jennings—were already on the bus on their way to Moorhead, Minn., where the next night’s show was scheduled, when the crash occurred.

From Wikipedia...

The Winter Dance Party" was a tour that was set to cover 24 Midwestern cities in three weeks. A logistical problem with the tour was the amount of travel, as the distance between venues was not a priority when scheduling each performance. For example, the tour would start at venue A, travel 200 miles (320 km) to venue B, and travel back 170 miles (270 km) to venue C, which was only 30 miles (48 km) from venue A. Adding to the disarray, the tour bus used to carry the musicians was ill-prepared for the weather; its heating system broke shortly after the tour began. Drummer Carl Bunch developed a severe case of frostbitten feet while on the bus and was taken to a local hospital. As he recovered, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens took turns with the drums.

The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa was never intended to be a stop on the tour, but promoters, hoping to fill an open date, called the manager of the ballroom at the time and offered him the show. He accepted and the date of the show was set for February 2.

By the time Buddy Holly arrived at the ballroom that evening, he was frustrated with the tour bus and told his bandmates that, once the show was over, they should try to charter a plane to get to the next stop on the tour, Moorhead, Minnesota. According to VH-1's Behind the Music: The Day the Music Died, Holly was also upset that he had run out of clean undershirts, socks, and underwear. He needed to do some laundry before the next performance, and the local laundromat in Clear Lake was closed that day.

Flight arrangements were made with Roger Peterson, 21, a local pilot who worked for Dwyer Flying Service in Mason City, Iowa. A fee of $36 per person was charged for the single engine Beechcraft Bonanza B35 (V-tail), registration N3794N (later reassigned). The Bonanza could seat three passengers in addition to the pilot.

Richardson had developed a case of the flu during the tour and asked one of Holly's bandmates, Waylon Jennings, for his seat on the plane; Jennings agreed to give up the seat. When Holly learned that Jennings wasn't going to fly, he said, "Well, I hope your ol' bus freezes up." Jennings responded, "Well, I hope your ol' plane crashes." This exchange of words, though made in jest at the time, haunted Jennings for the rest of his life.[3][4]

Ritchie Valens had never flown in a small plane before, and asked Holly's remaining bandmate on the plane, Tommy Allsup, for the seat. Tommy said "I'll flip ya for the remaining seat." Contrary to what is seen in biographical movies, that coin toss did not happen at the airport shortly before takeoff, nor did Buddy Holly toss it. The toss happened at the ballroom shortly before departure to the airport, and the coin was tossed by a DJ who was working the concert that night. Valens won a seat on the plane.[3]

Dion DiMucci of Dion & The Belmonts, who was the fourth headline performer on the tour, was approached to join the flight as well; however, the price of $36 was too much. Dion had heard his parents argue for years over the $36 rent for their apartment and could not bring himself to pay an entire month's rent for a short plane ride.[5]

At approximately 1:00 AM Central Time on February 3, the plane took off from Mason City Municipal Airport. Around 1:05, Jerry Dwyer, the owner of Dwyer Flying Service, could see the lights of the plane start to descend from the sky to the ground. At the time, he thought it was an optical illusion because of the curvature of the Earth and the horizon.

The pilot, Roger Peterson, was expected to file his flight plan once the plane was airborne, but Peterson never called the tower. Repeated attempts by Dwyer to contact his pilot failed. By 3:30 AM, when the airport at Fargo had not heard from Peterson, Dwyer contacted authorities and reported the aircraft missing.

Around 9:15 in the morning, Dwyer took off in another small plane to fly Peterson's intended route. A short time later Dwyer spotted the wreckage in a cornfield belonging to Albert Juhl, about 5 miles northwest of the airport (43°13′12″N 93°23′0″W / 43.22°N 93.38333°W / 43.22; -93.38333Coordinates: 43°13′12″N 93°23′0″W / 43.22°N 93.38333°W / 43.22; -93.38333). The manager of the Surf Ballroom, who drove the performers to the airport and witnessed the plane taking off, made the positive identification of the performers.

The Bonanza was at a slight downward angle and banked to the right when it struck the ground at around 170 miles per hour (270 km/h). The plane tumbled and skidded another 570 feet (170 m) across the frozen landscape before the crumpled ball of wreckage piled against a wire fence at the edge of the property. The bodies of Holly and Valens lay near the plane, Richardson was thrown into a neighboring cornfield, and Peterson remained trapped inside. All four had died instantly from "gross trauma" to the brain, the county coroner Ralph Smiley declared. Holly's death certificate detailed the multiple injuries which show that he surely died on impact: The body of Charles H. Holley was clothed in an outer jacket of yellow leather-like material in which 4 seams in the back were split almost full length. The skull was split medially in the forehead and this extended into the vertex region. Approximately half the brain tissue was absent. There was bleeding from both ears, and the face showed multiple lacerations. The consistency of the chest was soft due to extensive crushing injury to the bony structure. The left forearm was fractured 1/3 the way up from the wrist and the right elbow was fractured. Both thighs and legs showed multiple fractures. There was a small laceration of the scrotum. [6]

In 2007, Richardson's son had an autopsy performed on his father to verify the original finding. In part this was done because of the long known discovery of Holly's .22 calibre pistol in the cornfield two months after the wreck, giving rise to the question of whether or not an accidental firearm discharge had caused the crash, and to whether Richardson had walked away from the wreckage because his body was found farther from it. William M. Bass undertook the procedure and confirmed Smiley's report. The body of Richardson was in good preservation but showed "massive fractures" showing that he too had surely died on impact.[7][8]

Investigators came to the conclusion that the crash was due to a combination of poor weather conditions and pilot error. Peterson had performed poorly on his previous flight instrumentation tests and was not rated for night-time flight, when he would have to rely on his instruments rather than his own vision. They also found that Peterson was not given accurate advice about the weather conditions of his route, which, given his known limitations, might have caused him to postpone the flight.


"My message is the practice of compassion, love, and kindness. Compassion can be put into practice if one recognizes the fact that every human being is a member of humanity and the human family regardless of differences in religion, culture, color, and creed. Deep down there is no difference."


PLAYING BY AIR: Nashville Shakespeare Festival (2009)

Filmed at Nashville Shakespeare Festival's Vaudeville-themed production of Richard III in January 2009. Featuring Playing by Air performers Ben Detrick, Ted Joblin, and Jacob Weiss.

THE BRUTOS: Cera Gray Commercials (1964)

Monday, February 02, 2009


Ned! Ned Ryerson!!!


My thanks go out to Mike Rosman, Noelle Stone, my fellow Goosenagle Brothers, Andrew Scharff and Mark Lohr (more about that soon) and the "V Family" as well as the crew and staff of the CCBC Theater in Essex, MD for a wonderful weekend of "Circus Silliness".

The "Professor" character is now up and running. Thanks to Matthew Pauli, Christopher Hudert, and Chris Shelton for their feedback as well.


Happy 29th Birthday wishes go out today to...

Ms. Peggy O'Neill-Hull, a very funny and talented clown and my Clown College "Eccentic Dance" Instructor

One of my very favorite contemporary clowns and someone that
I'm very fortunte to count among my friends, Circus Bambouk's Brian Foley


"You can develop the right attitude toward others if you have kindness, love, and respect for them, and a clear realization of the oneness of all human beings."

VALERIE FRATELLINI: Concertino Pour un Clown (2008)

Photo courtesy of AUCIRQUE.COM

Ms. Valérie Fratellini, December 17, 2008 à l'Académie Fratellini dans l'Altair.

I BACCALA: Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain (2009)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

CIRCUS SILLINESS: Essex, MD Today at 2:00 PM

We had a great time last night performing at the CCBC Theater. The show came together very nicely and the house was just about sold out. We got a visit from Kevin Brown and his daughter in the afternoon, Matthew Pauli and Christopher Hudert for the 8:00 show.

We heard that we might also get visits from John Hadfield and Chris Shelton today.

Produced by Michael Rosman, “Circus Silliness” will be performed 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 1 in the B Building Theatre at CCBC Essex, 7201 Rossville Blvd. Tickets are $15 for all seats and are available through the CCBC Box Office at 443-840-ARTS (2787).


"It is our custom to say that someone is "lucky" or "unlucky" if they meet with fortunate or unfortunate circumstances, respectively. It is however, too simplistic to think in terms of random "luck." Even from a scientific point of view, this is not a sufficient explanation. Should something unfortunate happen, we immediately think, "Oh, how unlucky!" And yet this is not sufficient to explain what happened- there must be a cause. We seem to cal "luck" that factor which overrides external conditions to bring about a positive situation. But that too is a cause; it is an inner cause, which we call "merit."

TOTO: "Pink Lemonade" (1936)

Many thanks to Tommy Moore for the link

Toto (Arnold Nobello 1888-1938) in the Cabin Kids' 1936 Al Christie directed Educational Pictures short Pink Lemonade.