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Wheeler the Clown  Wheeler Presents A                     Chronology of Clowndom

         This Page Takes You from 1950 - 1959


New Material Added On 08/13/2004

1950

Pinto Colvig was the first Bozo the Clown KTTV (CBS) in Los Angeles ended its broadcast of Bozo's Circus, starring Pinto Colvig Sr. Capital Records, which had also created several Bozo shows for television, shut down its television division. (picture courtesy of WGN-TV)

ClowClarabelle Hornblowern Hall of Fame inductee Bob "Clarabelle Hornblower the Clown"  Keeshan was fired from The Howdy Dowdy Show, as the result of a personality conflict with the show's star, Buffalo Bob. He was rehired a few months later because children didn't like the actor who took over the Clarabelle role.

That same year Bob married Anne Jeanne Laurie.   (Picture courtesy of the Captain Kangaroo website)

1951

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Steve  "TJ Tatters" Smith was born.

Otto GrieblingClown Hall of Fame inductee Otto Griebling joined the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Francois Fratellini Francois Fratellini died. (Born in Paris in 1879)

Emmett Kelly Sr. as killer Ed Deets in The Fat Man Emmett, Sr. co-starred as the villian in the movie The Fat Man, playing Ed Deets, a murderer hiding behind a clown face. He refused to stain the image of his Weary Willie character with such a role, so the producers allowed him to play the part as a whiteface clown (left).

1952

Cecil B. Demille's James Stewart as Buttons the Clowncircus epic, The Greatest Show on Earth, Cecil B. Demille's circus epic was released to theatres and won the coveted Academy award for best picture that year. The epic co-starred Jimmy Stewart (above) as Buttons the Clown, Otto Griebling and featured real Clown and Circus Hall of Fame Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly Sr.inductees Emmett Kelly (right), Otto Griebling (left),  and Lou Jacobs, and Clown Hall of Fame inductee Jackie LeClaireJackie LaClaire (middle right), along with cameo appearances by Clown Hall of Fame inductees Paul JungFrankie SalutoPaul Jung (lower right) and Frankie Saluto (lower left), and many other performers of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. (Frankie's picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

Lou JacobsLou Jacobs (Lou's picture, left, is part of Wheeler the Clown's private collection)  was given the choice assignment of teaching Stewart the art of clowning. Jackie LeClaire, an accomplished aerialist as well as clown, stunt doubled for Cornell Wilde on the trapeze. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus was paid $1,000,000 in royalties for their role in the box office hit. (The movie grossed over $40,000,000)

ClowBob Keeshan as Clarabellen Hall of Fame inductee Bob "Clarabelle Hornblower"  Keeshan was fired from The Howdy Dowdy Show, as the result of a wage dispute. Several members of the technical crew were also terminated. Two other actors, Bobby Nicholson and Lew Anderson, took over the role of Clarabelle for the rest of the Howdy Doody Show's run, but neither were as successful in the role. (picture courtesy of the Captain Kangaroo website)

Roy BrownRoy Brown began his Chicago career in children's television as a graphic artist. A couple of years later, he moved into puppeteering, starting the path that would lead to his induction into the Clown Hall of Fame.  (Picture courtesy of WGN-TV)

1953

Tramp clown Freddie the Freeloader, definitely one of Freddie the Freeloader Clown Hall of Fame inductee Red Skelton's most endearing characters, made his first appearance on the Red Skelton Television Show.

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Oleg Popov Oleg Popov joined  the Moscow Circus.

Arthur Pedlar

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Arthur "Vercoe" Pedlar began his career by joining the Spider Austin troupe in France.  (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

Coco Polakov

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Michael "Coco" Poliakov came to perform in the United States for a short time with the Mills Bros. Circus. (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Barry "Grandma" Lubin was born.

Bob "Clarabelle" Keeshan was also Corney the ClownClown Hall of Fame inductee Bob "Clarabelle Hornblower" Keeshan created his second Clown character, "Corny" (left) to narrate a cartoon program Time for Fun / The Johhny Jellybean Show. At this time Bob exerted pressure on the program's executives to remove from the air cartoons he felt were too violent or perpetuated racial stereotyping. (Picture courtesy of TVParty.com)

1954

Karl Adrian "Grock" Wettach Clown Hall of Fame inductee Adrian "Grock" Wettach gave his last performance (in Germany) and retired to a villa on the French Riviera.

At the age of 63, Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Poodles HannefordEdwin "Poodles" Hanneford gave up his equestrian antics, but continued his whip act and general clowning.

Glen "Frosty" Little

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Glen "Frosty" Little began his career in entertainment at an amusement park in Denver, Colorado.

Hal Roach, Jr. produced a 30-minute "Bozo the Clown" television pilot for Capitol Record. This time, Gil Lamb starred as Bozo. (picture unavailable)

Bob Keeshan was Tinker the Alpine ToymakerClown Hall of Fame inductee Bob "Clarabelle Hornblower the Clown"  Keeshan hosted a children's television show Tinker's Workshop; this time as Tinker, an Alpine Toy maker.  (Picture courtesy of TVParty.com)

1955

Marcel "Bip" Marceau

Marcel Marceau first performed in the United States as Bip, his silent whiteface character.

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Oleg Popov became the first Oleg PopovSoviet clown to be seen in a live performance by western audiences when the Moscow Circus toured Europe. 

Captain Kangaroo

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Bob "Clarabelle" Keeshan left Tinker's Workshop to star as Captain Kangaroo, his most famous television role, and one that he played for 29 years. (picture courtesy of the Captain Kangaroo website)

"Bozo and His Friends" (the next Bozo the Clown television show) One of the Bozos - Jim Chapinpremiered on WHBQ-TV (Memphis). This time Jim Chapin (left) was the man behind the Bozo makeup. The television show was cancelled the following year when the legal rights to the Bozo the Clown character changed hands. (Picture courtesy of WGN-TV)

1956

This was the last year that the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus performed under the canvas big top. From that time on, indoor arenas housed the circus. This change was largely due to the efforts of Irvin Feld in persuading John Ringling North that the days of canvas big tops were over. Many circus diehards never forgave North for getting rid of the traditional canvas big top.

Weary Willie Sr. Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Emmett Kelly Sr.(right) left the circus to work as the mascot of baseball's Brooklyn Dodgers, still as his Weary Willie character. His departure was at least in part due to support of a union strike of the circus's non- performing personnel.

Otto GrieblingFelix AdlerClown  and Circus Halls of Fame inductees Felix Adler (right) and Otto Griebling (left) also left the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus that year in support of the union strike.

Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inducteePoodles Hanneford Edwin "Poodles" Hanneford also left circus life and became a prospector clown at Frontier Town, an amusement park in New York.

Larry Harmon formed a partnership that purchased the rights (except for records) to the Bozo Larry HarmonPinto Colvig was the first Bozo the Clownthe Clown character, and turned it into a nationwide franchise He often took over the role of Bozo the Clown which he had been occasionally hired in the past to play at promotionals, and credits himself as training over 200 Bozo the Clowns.  (Larry Harmon's and Pinto "Bozo" Colvig's pictures courtesy of WGN-TV)

Bob BellThe comedy team of Bob Bell (right) and Wally Phillips were hired by WGN-TV (Chicago). The comedy team starred in a number of variety shows (i.e. The Wally Phillips Show, and Midnight Ticker) before Bob was cast as Bozo the Clown , a role that would lead to several Emmy awards and his induction into the Clown Hall of Fame. (Picture courtesy of WGN-TV)

Danny Kaye as Giacomo the Court JesterDanny Kaye showed off his great clowning talents as the star of the movie  The Court Jester. He played Hubert Hawkins, a revolutionary who was undercover in a usurper king's court, posing as Jacimo, king of jesters. In my personal opinion, this is without a doubt his best comedic film.

1957

Clown David Larrible was born in Italy.

Clown & Circus Halls of Fame inductee Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly Sr. Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly Sr. went to work for the Shrine Circus.

1958

Oleg PopovClown Hall of Fame inductee Oleg Popov was designated a People's Artist of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. Popov was the youngest performer to date to receive this high honor. (age 28 at the time).

The Circus Hall of Fame was created.

Larry HarmonAnimated Bozo the ClownSeveral Bozo cartoons were made then distributed to television stations all over the country (along with the rights to hire a live "Bozo" host to introduce them). The voice of cartoon Bozo was Larry Harmon.  (picture courtesy of WGN-TV)

Bevely "Rebo the Clown" BergeronRebo the Clown was created to co-star with Mark Wilson and Nani Darnelle in the television series, Magic Circus and the Magic Land of Allakazam.  Bevely Bergeron (right) was the man behind the makeup.

Danny Kaye again showed off his great clowning talents as the star of the movie  Merry Andrew. This time he played a professor searching for an old statue who ends up working in a circus.

1959

GrockClown Hall of Fame inductee Karl Adrien "Grock" Wattach died in the French Riviera. (born 1880 in Switzerland)

DimitriClown Hall of Fame inductee Dimitri began his clown career as an auguste. His later fame would come from his whiteface/mime character (right).

The Bozo the Clown Show began to air all over the United States, Bill Britten, one of the many actors to protray Bozo the Clownbeginning with KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, as individual television Pinto Colvig Jr. as Bozostations purchased franchises. Each station had its own actor portraying Bozo the Clown, such as Pinto Colvig, Jr. (son of the original Bozo; at left) at KTLA  in L.A. and Bill Britten (right) who was Bozo for WPIX in New York. Although each local Bozo looked slightly different, each wore the traditional pointed tufts yak hair wig.  Over the years, the name of the show has changed slightly (i.e. Bozo's Circus, Bozo and his Friends,etc.). (picture courtesy of WGN-TV)

Bob Bell as "Andy Starr"In what was most likely his first "disguised" television role, Clown Hall of Fame inductee Bob Bell portrayed an elderly theater custodian, Andy Starr, the host of WGN-TV’s Three Stooges Weekday Afternoon Showcase. (picture courtesy of WGN-TV)

Bevely "Rebo the Clown" BergeronTelevision clown Bev "Rebo" Bergeron is credited for creating the first one balloon animal (a dog with a bubble tail). He then began selling balloons at personal appearances for fifty cents a bag.

The annual clowns worship service and tribute to Joseph Grimaldi in Great Britain was transferred to Trinity Church (Now also called Clowns Church) in Dalston. St. James Church, the original location, was demolished except for the graveyard, which was transformed into a memorial garden.


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   This Website was updated on: 08/13/2004