Wednesday, April 15, 2009

POODLES HANNEFORD : Gracie's Estate Creates Scholarship Fund

Article courtesy of Don Covington


Post Star
Glens Falls, New York
April 15, 2009

LAKE GEORGE - Gracie Hanneford made a career as a circus performer, like her family did for generations, before moving to Lake George in the 1950s.

Before her death in 2006, she wanted to create a scholarship in memory of her father, Edwin "Poodles" Hanneford IV, a seventh-generation circus performer.

So she contacted Rosemarie Earl, a guidance counselor at Lake George High School. She told Earl her will would include a donation to provide Lake George students with scholarships, but she never mentioned the amount.

It was not until a few years later, after Hanneford died and her assets were sold, that the Lake George Scholarship Association learned the gift was more than $900,000, the bulk of Gracie Hanneford's estate.
"When I got the letter from the attorney, I was flabbergasted," said Jim Mathis, president of the association, which doles out scholarships to Lake George students and graduates each year.

Earl, who is also on the association board, said families will sometimes donate money to honor someone. A $1,000 gift is a common amount, and she originally thought Gracie Hanneford's donation would be around $1,000.

"I thought it was wonderful," Earl said, of the bequest. "It's going to be there, really, forever. If we give away the interest of that money, the principle will always be there."

Hanneford put stipulations on the money.

Known as the Poodles Hanneford Scholarship for the Performing Arts, awards will be given to qualifying students who intend to study subjects such as theater, film, television, radio, music, literature, screenwriting, journalism and circus arts.

Lake George graduates now enrolled at a college can apply, too. Students can continue receiving the scholarship if they show they are still studying the written or performing arts.

Gracie Hanneford never attended Lake George schools. She came to the area with her family in 1956, after a career as a horseback rider in her family's circus act, an act that was part of several top circus shows in the early to mid-1900s.

After moving to a home on the east side of Lake George, her family set up a dog act at Frontier Town, the former theme park in North Hudson.

Later, Hanneford moved to California for a time but eventually returned to Lake George.

She served on the altar guild and was a vestry member at St. James Episcopal Church, and she was part of the Glens Falls Hospital ladies auxiliary, according to her Dec. 20, 2006 obituary.

Her father, Poodles, was born in a circus wagon in England in 1891. He began performing at 5 as a bareback rider, turning his skills into a career that took him across England and to Ireland before bringing his act to circuses in the U.S.

He was known as Poodles the Riding Fool, a clown who set a world record by making 26 consecutive running leaps on and off a horse, according to a press release from the association.

Poodles was inducted into the Clown Hall of Fame in 1965. He died two years later.

Now his name will carry on for years as the scholarship helps students pay for college.

The association received a portion of the endowment from Gracie Hanneford last year and used it to give two scholarships of at least $1,000 each, Mathis said.

Mathis said the association could give out as much as $20,000 from the Hanneford fund this year. Students have until next week to apply.

The Hanneford fund is the largest at Lake George High School. The association raises money each year for scholarships and hands out other awards through other bequests.

The Hanneford endowment is among the largest recent bequests to local schools for scholarships.

At the Hadley-Luzerne High School, officials two years ago were shocked to receive $1 million from the late Alice Harris, a former student who later owned a grocery store in Lake Luzerne and often loaned money to students so they could pay for college.
The Harris fund provides scholarships to students who cannot afford college.

Other local high schools have numerous scholarships created by area groups or businesses, along with those made in memory of others.

Some scholarships are given to students who study a particular subject.

Queensbury High School once received $50,000 from Sarah McEchron, a Queensbury teacher when the district was made up of one-room schoolhouses.

Only the interest from the McEchron bequest can be used, with the money going to students who pursue teaching careers, said Kathy Fisch, Queensbury's director of guidance.
High schools like Granville, Hudson Falls and Saratoga Springs have similar scholarships, but none from bequests as large as the Hanneford fund.

Peg Earl, the mother-in-law of Rosemarie Earl and a friend of Gracie Hanneford, knew Gracie was interested in the performing arts and wanted to honor her father's legacy. But Peg never imagined her endowment would approach $1 million.

"She wanted to keep her father's image alive as long as she could. To tell you the truth, I couldn't believe the amount myself," she said.

While Peg Earl said she could only assume that most of the endowment came from the sale of Gracie Hanneford's home, Gracie was a frugal person.

"She was one of those people who never bought a new car. She always bought a used car," Peg Earl said.


"Indulgence in resentment and vengeance will only further increase miseries to oneself and others in this life and the lives to come."


CLOWN COLLEGE: Audition Reports

Another piece from last week's audition in New York.

A piece from the Chicago auditions at the end of 2008.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

GLEN "KINKO" SUNBERRY: Animal Walk (1968)

Photo courtesy of Stephen Sullivan

Glen "Kinko" Sunberry talking with James E. White who had clowned with Barnum & Bailey in 1917, outside the train in Boston, MA in 1968.

BILLY MCCABE: Circus Vargas (1984)

Billy McCabe, one of the last of the great whiteface picture clowns

DICK "ROCKO" LEWIS: Circus World (Early 60s)

Dick "Rocko" Lewis on the footbridge of the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI.

GENE LEWIS: Backyard (1953)

SPADER JOHNSON: Very Early Undated Photo

A photo of Spader accompanying a biography by his wife Millie that appeared in Circus Review.

DIAMOND JIM PARKER: In the Navy (1959)

Before he was Assistant to the Dean of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College he was yeoman third class James Parker in the United States Navy's 14th Naval District Passenger Transportation Office at Pearl Harbor. 

CLOWNALLEY.NET: Hiatus will be going on hiatus as of May 2, 2009. 

This does NOT mean that the site is coming down. This does NOT mean that the site will never be updated again.

It does mean that I need a break. With another baby coming I need to focus 100% of my attention on generating as much revenue around here as I can before I spend another year or two as a stay-at-home dad.

It may mean a few days. It may mean a few weeks. It may come back daily. It may come back weekly or monthly. That all depends on fate.

But right now what I need is a great big Visa Check Card commercial-sized pile of money. 

This does NOT mean that is going away and it does not mean that I am accepting the offer to sell the domain name.


"If you help others with sincere motivation and sincere concern, that will bring you more fortune, more friends, more smiles, and more success.

If you forget about others' rights and neglect others' welfare, ultimately you will be very lonely."

CSI: Hackneyed Dreck

For those of you who don't know, clowns always sit around their dark, dingy agent's office in full makeup and costume all day and wait for a call. We're a lot like firemen in that respect.

Michael Bongar's very busy New York office even has an alarm that goes off when you get a booking and a fireman's pole down the subway platform so his clowns can get to gigs even quicker.

And no one who books me on a regular basis has any idea who I am. 

Now if you'll excuse me, Flappy, Flappy Jr. and I have to grab some coffee before we do another police party. I really need the money, my annual clown registration is almost up. I don't want to let is lapse and risk not getting in this year's book.

BALTIMORE MUSEUM OF ART: Dominique Jando and Tom Dougherty (March 31, 2009)

Dominique Jando performed as a clown in Paris with the legendary Cirque M├ędrano and has written prolifically on circus history, including the recently acclaimed book The Circus: 1870-1950. He reflects on his experience of circus life and invites audience members to participate in an interactive discussion. 

The talk was followed by a panel discussion with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® circus performers: hair hanging woman Andrea Ayala-Raffo, clown eccentric Tom Dougherty, and ringmaster Chuck Wagner. The discussion wass moderated by Circus Historical Society president Richard Flint.

EMMETT KELLY: Wedding to Evi (1955)

Footage from a British comedy show laying Saggettesque, Funniest Home Videos-style voiceovers to old newsreel footage of Emmett Kelly's 1955 weddings to Evi Gebhardt, first in front of a North Jersey Justice of the Peace and again later, in makeup, in the center ring of Madison Square Garden with the entire Alley.


Monday, April 13, 2009

DON BRIDWELL: Al G. Kelly & Miller Bros Circus (1963)

Don "Whizzer" Bridwell

MARK ANTHONY: With Helena Rassy (1965)

I've posted this picture before but now we have two things that we didn't have before, a year for the picture (1965), and a name for the woman in it with Mark.

This is Ms. Helena Rassy, who had a dove act in the Ringling 95th edition. 

COCOS: (1965)

Nicolai "Coco" Poliakovs (Poliakoff)
Bertram Mills Circus 1965

Michael "Coco" Poliakovs
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus 1965


"We are all on this planet together. We are all brothers and sisters with the same physical and mental faculties, the same problems, and the same needs. We must all contribute to the fulfillment of the human potential and the improvement of the quality of life as much as we are able. Mankind is crying out for help. Ours is a desperate time. Those who have something to offer should come forward. Now is the time."


DAVID VASSALLO: IX° International Circus Festival City of Latina

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Spring Solstice! Happy Sunday!

Anything that I forgot, I purposely left open for Elijah.