Saturday, March 26, 2016

SLIVERS OAKLEY: Slivers' Clown Shoes

Photos courtesy of Gene Wolande

Photos of Slivers Oakley's clown shoes, quite possibly the first oversized clown shoes worn in an American circus, in the collection of the Ringling Museum of the Circus in Sarasota, FL

Thursday, March 24, 2016

CLOWN CARS: Billboard Magazine (November 13, 1948)

According to this article Hip Raymond, Kinko Sunberry and Bobo Barnett each took possession of their miniature clown cars within days of each other, all at the end of the 1948 circus season and all built for them by a Mr. Leo L. McKenzie of Wichita, KS.

1948 being the end of Lou Jacobs' first full season of performing his routine.

An earlier "midget auto" built by Leo McKenzie (whose family owned the Wichita Carriage Works)...

Title/Object Name: 
McKenzie Midget Auto
Creator: Unknown photographer
Date Original: Circa 1930
Physical Details: 4 x 3 inches
Description: Group of boys gathered around a miniature automobile built by Leo L. McKenzie. The clown in the driver’s seat and the flags may indicate they are about to participate in a parade. McKenzie built and sold these small cars as a sideline to his business, McKenzie Body Works.
Keywords: Business and industry, children, people, transportation, Wichita.
Subject: Wichita (Kan.) -- Pictorial works
Type: Photographic Contact Print
Collection Name: 
Date Digital: 2003
Identifier: wschm_T3-34.1.8

Mr. McKenzie passed away on January 30, 1977 at the age of 90 in Wichita, KS.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

AL MIACO: Obituary, NY Clipper (July 27, 1923)


Alfred Frisbie Mlaco, Al Miaco, died July 21 at his home in New York City. He had spent 66 of his 78 years as a circus clown. Born in Cortland, N . Y., he ran away from home at the age of nine and joined Yankee Robinson's Circus . He started by playing Humpty Dumpty, soon learning to be a contortionist, and then a pantomlmlst. At this time he met the late Al Ringling and became the chief clown of his show, remaining with it for more than thirty years. Every sort of Interesting adventure was his during this long period. He knew John Wilkes Booth, assassin of Lincoln, intimately, and was with him the night before he shot the great President. He met his wife, Laura, 56 years ago while travelling on the Mississippi. She acted as his Columbine for some time and nursed him since the time three years ago that partial paralysis caused his involuntary retirement. He was recognized as the dean of all Shakespearian clowns and won innumerable tributes from his associates, one of whom said, "This man has sense enough to play the fool."

A grandson, Al Renton, is perpetuating the name by appearing as a clown . The funeral services were held Monday and were attended by hundreds of circus people.
When Miaco lived in Cortland, it was a town of about 2,500 population. His homecoming and departure each year to or from the circus were the biggest events of the village.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

CLOWN ALLEY: "The B.B. Club", Ringling Bros. Circus (circa 1900)

I have seen newspaper accounts describe this as the "Button Boosters Club" but the back of the photo identifies it as the "Button Busters Club" (likely as in 'you'll bust yer buttons') and the Hagenbeck Wallace clowns had one as well.

 "B.B. Club" was a common newspaper abbreviation for baseball team at the turn of the century.

All the performers listed are clowns so some of the clowns either had their own 
social club within the larger alley or this is a baseball team comprised of Ringling clowns

A much better scan from the personal collection of Hank Peare (courtesy of Gary Peare)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

POODLES HANNEFORD: New York Clipper (April 7, 1920)


The complaint of Poodles Hanneford, the Hippodrome clown, charging the May Wirth act with infringing upon his material, which gave rise to considerable discussion among both vaudeville and circus folk when it was filed with the N. V. A ., has been settled in favor of the Wirth act. According to the decision of the complaint board, the infringements which Hanneford claimed against the Wirth act have and are being used by scores of equestrians. Expert testimony was given to this effect by Charles Ringling, Toto, and a number of other circus folk. However, it has been suggested that Phil, the comedian in the Wirth act, change his makeup, which, it was contended, is identical to that of Poodles .