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.

 

Clown Alley Black History Month: Lea Abierra



Lea Abierra was the final African American graduate of the Ringling Clown College in 1997. She began as a dancer on the Ringling Red Unit before attending Clown College. After graduating she performed as a clown with Universoul Circus. 

 

Clown Alley Black History Month: Tom Blackmon

 


Tom Blackmon graduated from the Ringling Clown College in 1985. He was the only African American CC student to use a whiteface makeup.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Clown Alley Black History Month: Kathryn Jones

 


Kathryn Jones graduated from the Ringling Clown College in 1982. I do not know any information on her beyond that, so please chime in if you know more.
Thank you to Mark Renfro for the photo.

Clown Alley Black History Month: Stephanie Parks

 


Stephanie Parks graduated from the Ringling Clown College in 1981 and toured with the Red Unit in 1982 and 1983.
Thank you to Mark Renfro for the photo.

Clown Alley Black History Month: Andrea Waller

 


Andrea Waller graduated from the Ringling Clown College in 1979 and toured with the Blue Unit's 110th Edition in 1980 and 1981.
Thank you to Mark Renfro for the photo.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Clown Alley Black History Month: Stephanie Knox

 


Stephanie Knox attended the Ringling Clown College in 1988. I do know in the late 90s/early 2000s she was working at Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI, possibly at the Research Library. I would appreciate any other pertinent info anyone can provide.

Thank you to Mark Renfo for the photo.

Clown Alley Black History Month: Gloria McConnell


 

Gloria McConnell attended Ringling Clown College in 1980. Unfortunately that is the only information I have about her. Would any of her classmates be willing to help me fill in any other pertinent details?

Thank you to Mark Renfo for the photo.

Clown Alley Black History Month: George Leverett

 



George Leverett is a 1981 Clown College graduate who toured with the Blue Unit in 1982 for the first year of the 112th Edition of Ringling. In the mid 90s he was working with the Red Unit as a crew member.

I would appreciate any more information on George that anyone might have!

Thank you to Mark Renfo for the photo.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Clown Alley Black History Month: Bernice Collins

 


Bernice Collins graduated from the Ringling Clown College in 1977 and toured with the Ringling Blue Unit as a clown for the 108th Edition in 1978 and 1979. Off the top of my head, I believe Bernice was the first African American woman to be hired as a clown during the Feld/Clown College era. 

Bernice wore many different hats with Ringling over the year. She was a dancer, horse presenter and even a tiger presenter, mentored by the late, great Charley Baumann. 

She also worked various behind the scenes jobs with the Big Apple Circus, Cirque Du Soliel, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Learn more about Bernice thanks to the Uncle Junior project:

https://www.unclejrproject.com/bernice


Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Clown Alley Black History Month: Huel Speight


Huel Speight graduated from the Ringling Clown College in 1980 and joined the Blue Unit for the 1981 season. After 10 years on the Blue Unit, Huel switched to the Red Unit in 1991, where he remained in the Alley until the end of the 1996 season. 16 years on Ringling. That is certainly one of the longer runs during the Feld/Clown College era. I can only think of Frosty Little, Jon Weiss, and Tom and Tammy Parish who were Clown College graduates and were on the show longer than him.
After leaving Ringling, Huel began performing as part of the Circus Circus Clown Alley in Las Vegas, NV. He continues to perform there to this very day!

Most of the footage I have of Huel is different juggling routines he did throughout the years, but this is a Come In gag he performed with Christoper Hudert in 1991 for the 121st Edition. 
I think Huel should take over weatherman duties on the Today Show. Who's with me?!

Friday, February 04, 2022

Clown Alley Black History Month: Zachary "Skeeter" Reece

 


Skeeter Reece as painted by clown and artist, Jim Howle. Skeeter has lived a fascinating life. I really enjoyed getting to hear him talk about it at the 50th Anniversary Clown College Reunion back in 2017. 
Skeeter got his break in the circus business by joining the King Charles troupe where he learned to be an excellent unicyclist.
Skeeter attended Clown College in 1977. He modeled his distinct look after his comedy heroes: Bugs Bunny and Harpo Marx.
Skeeter performed with the Ringling Red Unit for five years and also clowned on the Universoul Circus.

To find out more about Skeeter and other African American circus artists, please visit the Uncle Junior Project.


Saturday, January 22, 2022

Vidbel: Hair Grower


Nothing says American circus clowning like the Hair Grower gag. The same can be said for the work of Billy Vaughn and Mike Snider.
This duo presented classic American clown gags throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s on Vidbel's Olde Tyme Circus.
The ringmaster is Dan McCallum, who was a clown on the Ringling Blue Unit from 1988-1991 before becoming a ringmaster.

"What's your friendly persuasion?" 

Friday, January 21, 2022

Footit & Chocolat 1900


The famous French clowns Footit & Chocolat performing several short vignettes including the William Tell entree, some sweet stilt moves, comic spanking, and an act that would have a lot more subtext in today's cultural climate.
1900 was a strange time....

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Oleg Popov: Comedy Car


Young Oleg Popov performing the classic comedy car routine. I always enjoy seeing Popov performing with energy.
I’m not sure of the year, but am guessing the 1960s, and I’m also not certain of the circus building. However, there is an exterior shot at the end of the video. Perhaps someone more well versed in Russian circus history could provide more details.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Ceslee Conkling: Slippers Walkaround


Twenty-eight years ago, Ceslee Conkling lost her life in a train derailment on the Ringling Blue Unit at the very beginning of the 124th Edition's two year tour.
Here she is in Winter Quarters, presenting her walkaround to Kenneth Feld and showing off her famous back fall.
Rest in peace, Ceslee. 

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Alberto Caroli

 


The classic White Clown, Alberto Caroli, photographed by Elena Zaïka. Alberto's family are the fantastic clown trio, Les Francescos, and for many years he was the house Clown at Cirque D'Hiver Bouglione in Paris. 

Friday, January 07, 2022

Ringling: Gabor Hrisafis

 


One of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, Gabor Hrisafis, performing during the Ringling Blue Unit's "Upside Down World" spec for the 134th Edition in 2004 or 2005.

Gabor recently was on tour with Cirque Musica here in the USA, and he still performs in Europe, especially around Hungary, where he lives.



Saturday, January 01, 2022

Happy Twenty Twenty Lou!


Happy Lou Year from Pat Cashin's Clown Alley! Let's kick off 2022 with an awesome interview with Master Clown Lou Jacobs filmed on the Ringling Red Unit in 1980.
Lou discusses his thoughts on clowning and reflects on his over fifty years (at that point) with the circus.