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Wheeler the Clown       Wheeler Presents A                     Chronology of Clowndom

This Page Takes You from 1930 - 1939


New Material Added On 07/29/2004

1930

Clown Hall of Fame inductee and Soviet circus great Oleg Popov was born.

Circus Hall of Fame inductee Otto Griebling, an accomplished Otto Griebling horseback rider in the Sells Floto Circus, suffered a serious fall and, while recovering, decided that it was time for career change . A natural comedian, he became a silent tramp clown, starting a successful career that would lead to Otto also being inducted into the Clown Hall of Fame.

Alphonse Helwig  joined the Ross Acrobatic troupe and first took the stage name of Al Ross, beginning a career that would lead to his induction into the Clown Hall of Fame.

"Coco the Clown" PoliakovClown Hall of Fame inductee Nikolai "Coco" Poliakov moved from the USSR to England and joined the Bertram Mills Circus. Soon he was Great Britain's most popular clown.

Bevely "Rebo the Clown" Bergeron was born.

Walt Disney created the cartoon character Pluto, and chose as the voice Pinto Colvig was the first Bozo the Clownbehind the character a retired circus clown named Vance "Pinto" Colvig Sr. (who later became the first Bozo the Clown). Pinto soon lent his voice to another Disney cartoon creation, the original Goofy.  (picture courtesy of WGN-TV)

1932

The Sherman Bros. (Chester Sherman & Joe Vani)Clown Hall of Fame inductee Joe Vani became part of the Kenneth Waite acrobatic trio, along with Kenneth Waite and Clown Hall of Fame inductee Chester Sherman. When Waite retired a short time later, the remaining two formed the clown duo known as the Sherman Brothers.  (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Anni Fratellini, (granddaughter of Clown Hall of Fame inductee Paul Fratellini) was born in France. 

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Arthur "Vercoe" Pedlar was born in England. 

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Roy "Cooky Cook" Brown was born in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.   

Felix Adler

Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Felix Adler became the first clown to appear on a television program.

Otto Griebling

Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Otto Griebling became a silent tramp clown in the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus.

Cartoon Weary Willie Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly  Sr.Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Emmett Kelly Sr. toured nightclubs, using both his talents as a clown and an artist to give chalk talks as Weary Willie.

1933

The tramp clown character Weary Willie (left) first performed under the big top, at the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus.  Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly  Sr.Before Emmett Kelly Sr. as killer Ed Deets in The Fat Manthat, Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Emmett Kelly Sr. was a whiteface clown (right).

By proving how popular his character was and how Weary Willie enhanced other acts, Emmett was given permission for Weary Willie to stay in costume and character throughout the circus performance, even to mix with serious acts (i.e. hanging wash on the slack wire and being chased out of the ring, etc.) . He continued to do this at every circus for which Weary Willie performed from then on.

Prince Paul Alpert

Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee "Prince Paul" Alpert first performed as a clown in the Paul Jung Troupe. He was one of the little people (a term used for dwarf and midget circus performers) (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

1934

Vladimir DurovVladimir Durov, Soviet clown, and half of the Durov Bothers act, died. (born 1863). He was more comic animal trainer than clown, but often performed with his brother Anatoly, who was a noted auguste clown.

Paul JungClown Hall of Fame inductee Paul Jung left Vaudevile to return to circus life, employed by Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus as a clown. (Before that, he had been a trapeze artist)

1935

Cousin Otto

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Gene "Cousin Otto" Lee  began his career at the Cole Bros. Circus.  (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

Clown Hall of Fame inductee and Swiss clown mime, Dimitri, was born.

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Umberto "Antonet" Guillaume, the last of the Antonetauthoritarian Whiteface clowns, died. (born 1872 in Italy) He had teamed with several notable augustes over the years, including Grock. (In fact, Grock credited Antonet for getting his career as an auguste started correctly.)

Clown and Circus Halls of fame inductee Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly Sr. and wife Emmett Kelly Sr. as an AerialistThe former Eva KellyEva were divorced, in large part over Emmett's preference of clowning over their aerialist act. They each took custody of one of their two sons; Emmett Jr. becoming the responsibility of his father. (due to the nomadic life of a circus performer, Emmett Jr. lived most of his school years with Emmett Sr.'s parents) Eva later would marry another clown, JoJo Lewis. Emmett Sr. would also remarry, but unsuccessfully.

Due to a clown shortage and at his father's urging, fifteen Cousin Otto Leeyear old Gene "Cousin Otto" Lee first performed as a clownat the Cole Bros. Circus, leading to a successful career and induction into the Clown Hall of Fame. (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

1937

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Emmett Weary Willie Sr. "Weary Willie" Kelly, Sr. appeared at the New York Hippodrome. Audiences loved the silent tramp clown.

Mark " Tony" AntonyClown Hall of Fame inductee Mark "Tony " Antony began his career as a whiteface clown. A short time later, he switched to the tramp character (left) for which he became famous.

Grumpy the Dwarf was voiced by Pinto Colvig Sr.Walt Disney created the first feature length animated cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Two of the Pinto Colvig was the first Bozo the Clowndwarfs, Grumpy (left) and Sleepy, were voiced by a retired circus clown named Pinto Colvig Sr., who later became the first Bozo the Clown (right). (Bozo picture courtesy of WGN-TV, Grumpy picture courtesy of Snow White Website)

1938

Dorothy "JoJo" Barnett joined the clown act of her husband Chester BoBo and JoJo the clowns"Bobo" Barnett. A whiteface, she was billed as the only performing girl clown. (which was probably true at that time) She certainly had to battle with the prejudices of an all male clown alley in order to get her chance, as well as male jealousy when she succeeded.

1939

Lazarenko the ElderPopular Soviet R'izhii clown Vitaly Efimovich Lazarenko the Elder died. (born in 1890) (*note: R'izhii was a red-haired clown type popular in the Soviet Union before World War II and was probably the inspiration for the modern auguste)

Vance "Pinto / Bozo" Colvig Srwas the voice of Gabby the  Lilliputian in what became a very popular animated feature Gulliver's Travels.

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Jim Howle was born in South Carolina.


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   This Website was updated on: 07/29/2004