Friday, November 04, 2022

Clyde Beatty Cole Bros Clown Alley T-Shirt

 


A t-shirt showing the members of the 1990 Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. Clown Alley.

Clockwise from top: James Houser, Jeff Day, Mugwump....(beats the hell outta me!), Dave Williams, Ricky Ardelli, Doug Keady, Greg Long, and Robert Temple. 

Circus Vargas Clown Band

 


Chris Green and George Clyatt performing in the Circus Vargas Clown Band sometime in the mid 1980s. 

Dennis Hall

 


Dennis "Dash" Hall. Graduate of the Clown College Class of 1972, and briefly on tour with the Ringling Blue Unit in 1973.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Billy Ward and Frosty Little

 


Billy Ward and Frosty Little on the Ringling Red Unit in the early 1970s. One of the rare photos of Frosty in a different costume than the one he became known for.

Lou Jacobs: 20th Anniversary of Clown College

 


Lou Jacobs posing behind his likeness, which was part of the set for the 20th Anniversary of Clown College in 1987. The set was designed by CC 1971 graduate, Mitch Greenburg.

Alan Ware

 

Photo by Paul Gutheil

Alan Ware, better known to audiences of the Greatest Show on Earth as Grandpa, graduated from Clown College in 1996. He toured with the Blue Unit from 1997-1998, and when he returned to the Ringling Red Unit from 2001-2007, his Grandpa character had fully emerged.

Monday, September 05, 2022

Roncalli: Busy Bee


Bernard Paul, Angelo Munoz and Francesco Carol performing the classic entrée Busy Bee on Circus Roncalli in 1991.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Arturo Figueroa: Rola-Bola


Arturo Figueroa performing during the Come In of the Ringling Red Unit's 119th Edition in 1989.

Arturo performed with all three Units of the Greatest Show on Earth, and is currently the ringmaster of Flip Circus, a new show from Circo Hermanos Vazquez.


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Elmo Gibb: Advance Clown


Elmo Gibb giving a morning TV interview to promote Clyde Betty's run in Ladsen, SC in, I believe, 1990.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Anatoli Akerman


From Anatoli's website:

Anatoli Akerman is a clown, physical actor, and a true and passionate artistic soul. He is one of the most intuitive comic performance artists in his field.

Among his career highlights, he was a member of the creation team and performed as a clown in Cirque du Soleil’s “KA” in Las Vegas and later in Cirque’s “ZED” in Tokyo, Japan. He has toured with the world-renowned Circus Roncalli and was cast as a clown in Walt Disney’s feature film Dumbo, directed by Tim Burton.

He has thrilled thousands on stages worldwide, including Cirque du Soleil at the MGM Grand Las Vegas and Tokyo Disney ResortWintergarten Varieté in BerlinFriedrichsbau Varieté in Stuttgart, Cirque Bouffon tour of Germany, Pomp Duck Circumstance Dinner Show in Berlin, Circus Roncalli tour of Germany & Austria, and many more…

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Danise Payne’s Memoir Available Now!

Danise Payne’s memoir, Elbows In My Ears: My Life With Little People, Tigers, and Wardrobe Trunks, was released yesterday, just in time for International Clown Week! I picked up my copy last night and can’t wait to dive in!


                                  PURCHASE HERE


Like many other African American women, Danise Payne graduated from a university and headed out into the world. But she finds herself spellbound on a different path and discovers her life's song includes elephants. 


Enter the circus. 


Elbows in My Ears uncovers a never-before-told tale of a black woman with a career among little people, tigers, and wardrobe trunks. Travel with Danise on a compelling journey inside the massive Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. View an all-black production called UniverSoul Big Top Circus. And witness her life as the first African American woman clown in a circus in Europe-a culture that is uncomfortable with women clowns. 


This intimate memoir reveals the author's encounters with prejudice, exclusion, and her fight for acceptance. It delivers adventures of hilarity and perseverance. What a testimonial to triumph over naysayers! Enjoy this behind-the-scenes peek at a traditional circus that will capture your imagination.


If you love stories that inspire you to live the desire of your heart regardless of obstacles, this must-read account invites you to join the pomp that caught national attention. 


About the Author

DANISE PAYNE holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and is a circus clown with twenty-five years' experience. She graduated from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College in 1978 and toured with the Red and Blue Units of The Greatest Show on Earth. She has performed with five circuses and became the first African American woman clown in a circus in Europe. Ms. Payne was featured in Ebony magazine, on Entertainment Tonight, and NBC's Today show. She is a member of The Circus Fans Association of America, the Circus Historical Society, and the Screen Actors Guild. She and her husband live in Las Vegas, Nevada. Discover more: www.danisepayne.com



Thursday, July 28, 2022

Happy Birthday Scott O'Donnell!


All of us here at Clown Alley would like to wish Scott O'Donnell a very happy birthday! Scott has performed on circuses in Canada and the US, performed on AND ran Vidbel's Olde Time Circus, was Boss Clown and later a talent scout for Ringling, worked in management for Big Apple Circus, and is currently the Director of Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI.
On top of all of that, he is an amazing friend and fantastic clown!

Here he is performing the classic boxing gag on Vidbel with Mike Snider, John "Eggroll" Kane, and ringmaster Billy Martin.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Milo and Roger


From Magicpedia:

Milo & Roger was the comedy and magic act of Arthur "Milo" Brandon (1916-1998) and Roger Coker (1930-1997). They traveled the world from the mid 1950s until well into the 1990s. 

They appeared on television many times around the world including "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" and "The Hollywood Palace".[1][2][3]

After retiring, Milo Brandon gave Ted Lesley all of their equipment and the rights to perform the act.[4] Then a father and son team from Germany, Adi and Phillip Becker, purchased the equipment and rights with a goal to resurrect the act.[5][6]

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Remembering Pat Cashin

Pat Cashin, the founder and namesake of this blog, passed away six years ago today. He was one of the funniest people I've ever met, and his love for his family and the art of clowning was immeasurable.

Please feel free to leave any memories of Pat in the comments below.

 












Saturday, July 16, 2022

Cirkus Olympia: Toto and René


Toto Johnson and René Coker performing their laundry gag on Cirkus Olympia in Sweden during the 1990 season.

Toto and René performed a version of this gag as a Come In track gag on the Ringling Red Unit in 1989 before taking it to Sweden and making it an entrée. 

The next year John Winslow, their Clown College classmate and Red Unit Alley-mate, joined them for the Olympia 1991 season. 

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Mary Kelly Rayel

 



Please join me in wishing a very Happy Birthday to Clown College 1990 grad and trapeze superstar, Mary Kelly Rayel!

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Cole Bros Clown Alley 1999

 


Bacca-Choo is my favorite clown.....

Circo Hermanos Vazquez Clowns 2015


The clowns of the two Circo Hermanos Vazquez units at the 2015 end of the year party. 

From the East Unit: Mr. Bells, Tin Tin, and Pancho the Martian

From the West Unit: Carmelo and Steve & Ryan

Clown College: Camel Gag


Mark Branner and Greg May (the camel) performing a gag during the graduation performance of the Ringling Clown College class of 1990.

Mark and Greg both received contracts to tour with the Red and Blue Units respectively. Both completed a year on tour and Greg later returned to the road on the Red Unit for 1994 and part of the 1995 season.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Maude “Flip” Bayless

 


Today we celebrate Maude “Flip” Bayless on what would have been her 76th birthday.

Maudie attended the Ringling Clown College in 1970, and she and Peggy Williams were the first female clowns to be hired on the show during the Feld era: Peggy on the Red Unit, and Maudie on the Blue Unit.

Maude spent five seasons on the Blue Unit, and she was also Boss Clown on Carson & Barnes Circus for a number of years.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

EZ & Kozy

 


Eric and Kolinda Zander-Hussy have performed together on the Kelly Miller Circus during its final years, the International Clown Festival in India, Circus Osorio, the Three Ring Super Circus, and they are currently on tour of the United States with Loomis Bros. Circus.

Monday, June 06, 2022

Tina "Skeeter" Bausch


Tina Bausch graduated from the Ringling Bros. Clown College in 1985 and has been on the road working as a circus clown since then.
She has performed with the Toby Tyler Circus, the Kelly Miller Circus, and has been the advance clown for Culpepper Merriweather Circus for a large portion of her career. 
Just a few years ago she was awarded the Lifetime of Laughter award from the International Clown Hall of Fame in Baraboo, WI. 

Sunday, June 05, 2022

Gina Allison & Jessi Hoffschildt

 


Gina Allison began her circus career as a dancer for the Ringling Red Unit in 1986. In 1988 she attended the Ringling Clown College and performed in the Blue and Red Unit Clown Alleys from 1989-1996.
She and Chris Allison started the company Cirque DuJour that has provided entertainment for events all over the northeast, and she more recently performed with her dog, Zeus, and a rotating cast of performers at events all over the Orlando, FL area with her company, Gigi and Friends.

Jessi Hoffschildt studied at the Circus Arts Conservatory in San Francisco before joining the Ringling Red Unit Clown Alley in 2004, where she stayed through 2006.
After that Jessi performed as a clown at Sea World San Diego, Culpepper Merriweather Circus, Circus World Museum, Huis Ten Bosch in Japan, and also as a dancer and teacher on Kelly Miller Circus.
She has been performing off and on at Kinoshita Circus in Japan for close to ten years. Jessi and Gina are performing together at Kinoshita Circus for the summer of 2022.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Colleen Linnehan Duffy: Put On A Happy Face


Colleen Linnehan Duffy graduated from the Ringling Clown College in 1982 and toured with the Red Unit from 1983-1985. She also toured with Circus Vargas and was a part of the Circus Circus Clown Alley in Las Vegas, NV.
To children of my generation, she was best known for appearing in the Kidsongs: A Day At The Circus Video, which was filmed on Vargas.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Peggy King

Peggy King and Jim "Enof" Killebrew performing their trapeze gag during the Come In of the Ringling Red Unit's 115th Edition in 1985.

Peggy King graduated from the Ringling Clown College in 1977. She spent the 1978-1981 seasons on the Blue Unit, and was on the Red Unit from 1983-1985.
She also performed at Circus Vargas, Carnival Plaza in Japan, and was a member of the Circus Circus Clown Alley in Las Vegas, NV.
Please let me know if I forgot anything!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Gardi Hutter


From Wikipedia:

Born on 5 March 1953 in Altstätten, Canton of St. Gallen in Switzerland, Gardi Hutter graduated at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zürich (Schauspiel-Akademie Zürich) from 1974 to 1977, where she absolved an induction and training in theatre education and theatre pedagogy. Gari Hutter gave lessons to the students, but she felt unhappy not to practice what she taught. At the Centro di ricerca per il teatro (CRT) in Milano Gardi Hutter graduated as maestros (master), being also her so-called Clownsgesellenzeit (literally: apprenticeship as a clown) of three years to become an approved member of the Clown community. Gardi Hutter was taught by Mario Gonzales, Pantalone of the Théatre du Soleil, Nani Colombaioni (I Colombaioni) and Ferruccio Cainero of the Teatro Ingenuo.,[1][2]

For the national "700-year anniversary" of Switzerland, Gardi Hutter played the women jester in the Federal Assembly Chamber of the Swiss Parliament in 1991. For the festival "700 years" of 1998 of her hometown, Gardi Hutter acted as co-writer. In the winter season 1997/98 she was starring in Romulus der Grosse at the Schauspielhaus Zürich.[2]

Since 1981, Gardi Hutter had more than 3,300 performances in 30 countries and four continents, including Andorra, Brazil, China, Russia, Spain, Sweden, USA and Switzerland. There were also recordings on TV stations of 17 countries and auditions in numerous radio programs.[1]


Monday, April 11, 2022

Karen Bell

Karen Bell performing her Train Come In gag on Ringling in 1987

Karen Bell attended the Ringling Clown College in 1985. She spent 1986-1993 on both the Red Unit and the Gold Unit in Japan.

She was a producing clown at Clown College and on the road, and she is also a fantastic prop builder.

In more recent years she has partnered with Robin Eurich to perform with the Circus Arts Conservatory, on which she also serves as the Education Outreach Manager. 

Friday, March 18, 2022

Lisa Chapman

Lisa Chapman performing in the Three Ring Adventure of the 129th Edition of Ringling in 1999.

Lisa Chapman graduated from the Ringling Clown College in 1993. She traveled with the Red Unit from 1994-1999.

She is an excellent seamstress and has been living in Las Vegas, where she works in the wardrobe department of different shows.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Laura Herts




Laura Herts is a clown, mime, theater performer, painter, and teacher who lives in Paris, France.


Ruth Chaddock

 


Ruth Chaddock attended the Ringling Clown College in 1974. She then went on to wear many hats within the Feld company for over forty years.

From circus clown, advance clown, makeup instructor at Clown College, to Special Projects Coordinator for the whole company….Ruth has made a positive impact on thousands of  lives throughout her long career. The reason? EVERYBODY loves Ruthie Chaddock!

Happy Belated Birthday, Ruthie!

Monday, March 14, 2022

Marni Zalban

Marni Zalban and Brad Reiss performing in the 1997 Clown College graduation.

Marni Zalban (at the time, Sussman) attended Ringling Clown College in 1997.
She toured with the Blue Unit from 1999-2002, and she is currently working towards her Masters in Speech Language Pathology.
Today is also her birthday! Happy Birthday, Marni!


Thursday, March 10, 2022

Traci Livingston

Traci Livingston and Stephen Simon performing in the 1995 Clown College graduation.

Traci Livingston attended the Ringling Clown College in 1995. She toured with the Red Unit in 1996 as one of the Adventure Clowns who only worked during the brand new Three Ring Adventure an hour before the performance.

I believe she had her own public access show, The Totally Traci Show, in Portland, OR for awhile, and she has a presence on Youtube making comedy videos.


Claire Wedermyer

Claire Wedermyer performing the Newspaper Gag on Kelly Miller Circus.

Welcome to the beginning of the Clown Alley Women's History Month!

Yes! I know I'm late.....get off my back!!!!

There will be a full month's worth of content....plus some!

First up Claire Wedermyer on Kelly Miller Circus in 2006. Claire attended the NY Goofs Clown School in NYC in 1999. She toured with the Ringling Red Unit in 2003 and 2004, and then toured with the Kelly Miller Circus in 2005 and 2006.

More recently she performed with Circus Harmony at the City Museum in St. Louis, MO.


Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Clown Alley Black History Month: Carlos Ragas

 


Carlos Ragas attended the Ringling Clown College in 1987, and he toured with the Red Unit for the 1988 and 1989 seasons.

He currently lives in L.A. and makes his living as a stunt man and actor.

Few people know of his short lived comedy team Ragas and Milano.... :O) 

Clown Alley Black History Month: Garry “Otis” White

 

Garry White clowned at the Circus World theme park in Florida before attending Clown College in 1976. He toured with the Ringling Red Unit from 1977-1980, and also toured with Universoul Circus and Fern Street Circus as his clown character "Otis".

Clown Alley Black History Month: Carlton Russell

 


Carlton Russell attended the Ringling Clown College in 1982, and he acted as Clown College administrator for Steve Smith’s first year as dean in 1985.

Clown Alley Black History Month: Dwayne Cunningham

 


Dwayne Cunningham attended the Ringling Clown College in 1975. He toured with the Red Unit from 1976-1978.

Dwayne has also performed stand up comedy and many people know him as Doc Wasabi from his years at Jungle Island in Miami, FL.

He is currently working at the Big Cat Habitat in Sarasota, FL.

Monday, March 07, 2022

Clown Alley Black History Month: Armando Hurley

 


Armando Hurley attended Ringling Clown College in 1970 and toured with the Blue Unit for the 1971 season.

Armando worked with Crosby, Stills, and Nash for many years and now lives in Australia.

Clown Alley Black History Month: Marlon Russ

 


Marlon Russ toured with the Ringling Red Unit for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Today is also his birthday!
Happy Birthday, Marlon!

Friday, March 04, 2022

Clown Alley Black History Month: Jamarr Woodruff


I know it is March, but I still have more to say on Clown Alley Black History month.

Jamarr Woodruff could have auditioned to be in the 1997 Clown College class, which turned out to be the school's last, but instead he went to California to attend the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theater. He later attended the Clown Conservatory in San Francisco, CA as well. That is where he caught the attention of Ringling V.P. of talent, Tim Holst.

Jamarr was hired to join the Red Unit's 135th Edition of Ringling for the 2006 season, but after less than a week he was swapped to the Blue Unit to replace a clown who was let go during Winter Quarters.

I worked with Jamarr, aka "The Clown of Crunk" in 2006 and 2007 for the 136th Edition of Ringling aka The Circus of (Broken) Dreams. Jamarr also stayed for the first year of the 138th Edition, Over The Top.

Jamarr left the Blue Unit at the end of 2008 and since then has performed advance PR for Ringling and also clowned in hospitals.

Learn more about Jamarr at the Uncle Jr. Project:

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Clown Alley Black History Month: Reggie Montgomery

 



Reggie Montgomery was the first African American graduate of the Ringling Clown College in 1968. He toured with Ringling for the 1969 tour, before the show became the Red and Blue Units.

Learn about Reggie and his life in Don Hepner's book Reggie: Ringling's First Black Clown. 

Clown Alley Black History Month: Preston Crawford

 


Preston Crawford attended the Ringling Clown College in 1982 and toured with the Blue Unit in 1983 and 1984.

Photo courtesy of Mark Renfro.

Clown Alley Black History Month: Lem Fillyaw

 


Lem Fillyaw attended the Ringling Clown College in 1993 in Baraboo, WI. I know he toured with the Kelly Miller Circus in 1996, but I am not sure about the years between CC and KM.

Photo courtesy of Mark Renfro.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Clown Alley Black History Month: Willie Yeomans

 


Willie Yeomans graduated from the Ringling Clown College in 1982. He spent two years with the Blue Unit in 1983 and 1984, and then he replaced a clown midway through the 1985 Red Unit season. He also performed in Japan with the Gold Unit in Japan in 1988.

I met Willie in 2003 in Washington D.C. where he was working as a nurse. That was the last I have heard from him.

Thank you to Mark Renfro for the photo.

Clown Alley Black History Month: Dean Anderson


Dean Anderson attended Ringling Clown College in 1986. I met him in NYC while I was touring with Ringling, but I am not sure what he has been up to since then.

Thank you to Mark Renfro for the photo.

Clown Alley Black History Month: Bill Forchion


Bill Forchion graduated from the Ringling Clown College in 1988 and toured with the Gold Unit in Japan in 1989 and the Red Unit in 1990.

He has also performed with the Pickle Family Circus and Cirque Du Soliel, and taught at Circus Smirkus and NECCA. 

Thank you to Mark Renfro for the photo.
 

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Clown Alley Black History Month: James Holyfield

 


James Holyfield attended Clown College in 1991. He is related (a cousin I believe) to the famous boxer, Evander Holyfield who had part of his ear bitten off by Mike Tyson.
I'm pretty sure James still has all of his ears....

Thank you to Mark Renfro for the photo.

Clown Alley Black History Month: Robert Dunn "Onionhead"

 


Robert Dunn created his clown character of Onionhead long before he became synonymous with the Universoul Circus.

Robert joined the Universoul Circus at the age of 56 as a cook, but eventually was able to step into the ring as a clown, his initial ambition.

He has performed with the Universoul Circus for over 13 years, and is well known and beloved by their audiences. 

Learn more about Onionhead at the Uncle Jr. Project:

Clown Alley Black History Month: Sean Davis

 


Sean Davis fell in love with a beautiful circus dancer and joined the Ringling Blue Unit on the floor crew to pursue her.
He attended the Ringling Clown College in 1995 and toured with the Red Unit Clown Alley in 1996.

In 2009 Sean returned to the Red Unit Clown Alley, and left at the end of the 2012 season. He was the final Clown College graduate to perform in Clown Alley before Ringling's closing in 2017.

Thank you to Mark Renfro for the photo.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Clown Alley Black History Month: Jonathan Martin


Jonathan Martin attended the Ringling Clown College in 1996 and afterwards toured with the Universoul Circus along with Danise Payne. 

 

Clown Alley Black History Month: Brian Wright

 


Brian Wright saw the Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus for the first time as a very small child. His family took him to see the Arianna the Human Arrow tour at Madison Square Garden in 1996, and from that moment on, his path in life was clear: Brian was going to be a Ringling clown.

Brian and his wife both worked on the backstage crew on the Ringling Red Unit before he attended the Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp. That year there was a large group of young clowns who all wanted to work for Ringling, and several of them were hired, including Brian.

Brian toured with the Ringling Red Unit from 2014 through the show's closing in 2017. Brian was the only clown in the Alley who did all "three" years of the Circus Xtreme show, and at the moment holds the title of the last African American clown on Ringling. 

Clown Alley Black History Month: Gregory Parks

 


Gregory Parks wanted to be a clown from a young age, and both he and his brother got to perform as Guest Clowns on Ringling in the 1980s.

Greg attended the NY Goofs program in NYC in 1999, and performed with the Ringling Blue Unit for the 2001-2004 seasons. I was lucky to be cast with Greg in a very fun pancake cooking gag my First of May year.

After leaving Ringling Greg performed around the world as a clownish Hunny Helper in the Feld produced Winnie The Pooh Live show.

Greg also performed solo and with Neal Skoy at Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI (pictured above).

He spent many years at Kinoshita Circus in Japan clowning alongside Kelly Van Cleave and Jessi Hoffschildt.

Clown Alley Black History Month: Danise Payne

 


A very early picture of Danise Payne, most likely from when she attended the Ringling Clown College in 1978. (Thank you to Mark Renfro for the photo)
Danise performed on the Red Unit in 1979 and 1980, and returned to the Blue Unit in 2002 and 2003, which is when I was lucky enough to work with and learn from her.

In the time between Danise performed many places, notably Gerry Cottle's Circus in the UK and the Universoul Circus in the United Staes.

You can find out more about Danise by visiting the Uncle Junior project:


Monday, February 14, 2022

Clown Alley Black History Month: Darren Wilson


Darren Wilson attended the Ringling Clown College in 1993, the first year the program was held in Baraboo, WI.