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Wheeler the Clown    Wheeler Presents A                       Chronology of Clowndom

This Page Takes You from 1960 - 1969


New Material Added On 08/12/2004

1960

Clown Hall of Fame inductee and circus great Frank Bartlet "Felix" Adler Felix Adlerdied. (born 1895). Felix often performed with baby piglets like the one shown here that he trained himself (over three hundred during his career, because after about two weeks they would be too large to use in his acts). After Felix's marriage, his piglets were always named Amelia (his wife's name).

Weary Willie Jr.Emmett Kelly Jr. first performed as a clown, in the Circus  City Festival in Peru, Indiana. (Prior to this he was an automotive mechanic and railroad switch tender.) Like his father, he performed as Weary Willie. Some sources say it was with Dad's blessing, but according to most reports, Emmett Sr. did not approve; he felt too close of a bond with the character he had created.

Bob Bell as Bozo the Clown Bob Bell took over the role of Bozo the Clown for WGN-TV in Chicago. (WGN-TV aired the longest running Bozo show in history). He performed the role until 1984, becoming one of the most famous and beloved portrayers of the character to date, leading to Bob's selection as a Clown Hall of Fame inductee.  (Picture courtesy of WGN-TV)

Don "Homer" Burda

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Don "Homer" Burda (right) began a theatrical career that would lead to a successful career in clowning.

The Clowns' Gallery was founded in Great Britain by Stan Bult, one of the founders of the International Circus Clown Club (now Clowns International). The gallery's first permanent exhibition was Bult's private collection of Clown memorabilia.

1961

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Albert Fratellini Albert Fratellini died. (born in Moscow, Russia in 1886). Although not a typical auguste in his day, his "grotesque" face became the model for all present day auguste clowns.

JoJo LewisClown JoJo Lewis died. (birthdate unknown, but probably around 1898)   (Picture courtesy of Joey Kelly)

Happy WilliamsClown Hall of Fame inductee Jim "Happy" Williams first performed, at the Mayfair Mall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

1962

Otto GrieblingJimmy Durante starred in the circus movie JumboClown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Otto Griebling (left)  was the stunt double for the great comic Jimmy Durante (right), in the circus movie, Dumbo.

DimitriClown Hall of Fame inductee Dimitri was honored at the international mime festival in Berlin, Germany, for his solo mime act.

1963

Willard Scott was the first Ronald McDonaldRonald McDonald the hamburger- happy clown, soon to be America's most recognized clown, made his first television appearance. He had been created the year before by two McDonald's franchisees, John Gibson and Oscar Goldstein (Gee-Gee Distributing Corporation), to target children when the "Bozo the Clown Show" (which they had sponsored) went off the air. A more modern Ronald McD with BozoFamed television personality Willard Scott (upper right), who had once portrayed Bozo on that particular show, was the first man behind the makeup (which, as you can see from the picture on the left has changed a bit over the years); but there have been many since. If I'm not mistaken, every state has their own Ronald MacDonald... Currently my personal friend the very talented Doug Ryder, delights audiences in Utah as Ronald McDonald. (Pictures courtesy of WGN-TV)

Bozo's Circus Bozo the Clown (WGN-TV Chicago) received its first Emmy award. (Picture courtesy of WGN-TV)

"Coco the Clown" PoliakovClown Hall of Fame inductee Nikolai "Coco" Poliakov was awarded the Order of the British Empire for his efforts to educate children about road safety; a priority of his after after a serious accident he suffered in 1960.

Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly Jr. Weary Willie Jr.was a featured performer in the Hagen-Wallace Circus.

1964

Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly Jr. Weary Willie Jr.was hired to perform in the Eastman Kodak pavillion at the New York's World Fair, which ran for two years. Eastman Kodak was so pleased with Weary Willie Jr.  that they hired him as a good will ambassador, touring at hospitals all over the country over the next four years. During this time, he became the most famous and photographed clown in the United States (perhaps the world).

Mark " Tony" Antony

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Mark "Tony " Antony began clowning for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Bob "Clarabelle Hornblower" Keeshan hosted the television series, Mr. Mayor. He portrayed two characters in the show, Mr. Mayor and the Town Clown.

1965

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Paul JungPaul Jung died in New York, from fatal injuries sustained during a robbery/beating while he was taking an evening walk. (born 1901 in Dayton, Ohio USA)

Larry HarmonFrank Avruch as Bozo the ClownLarry Harmon bought out his partners and became the sole owner of the rights to the Bozo the Clown character (except for the record rights, which were still held by Capital Records). Harmon syndicated 130 of a Boston "Bozo's Circus" television show (re-titled "Bozo's Big Top") for stations that wanted Bozo, but didn't want to produce their own shows. It is said that Harmon preferred Frank Avruch's portrayal of Bozo (right) and wanted to have him play the role exclusively, but the various stations that already had their own people behind Bozo's makeup objected.   (Pictures courtesy of WGN-TV)

Bozo the Clown

Bozo's Circus (WGN-TV, Chicago) received another Emmy award. (Picture courtesy of WGN-TV)

1966

The US Postal Service unveiled a postage stamp bearing the clown Lou Jacobsface of Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Lou Jacobs. Perhaps because it is a clown face, the Postal Service went against its own policy of only honoring deceased persons on a stamp. 

1967

Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Poodles HannefordEdwin "Poodles" Hanneford, died. (born 1891). Comic equestrian Poodles was famous for stunts such as somersaulting off of the back of a moving horse.

Pinto Colvig was the first Bozo the Clown

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Vance Debar "Pinto" Colvig Sr., the original Bozo the Clown, died.  (born 1892)   (Picture courtesy of WGN-TV)

Smokey the Clown convinced the authorities at the Trinity Church  (also known now as Clowns Church) to allow attendees to the annual clowns worship service and tribute to Joseph Grimaldi to come in full costume and makeup. They have done so ever since, then entertain at an adjacent school after the service.

Clowns of America was founded.

Irvin Feld, in partnership with his brother Israel and Judge Roy Hofheinz, purchased the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, from an aging and tired John Ringling North. The final papers were signed at the ancient Roman Coliseum. The Felds decided not to alter the name of the circus, which had become so well known by American audiences,

1968

Glen "Frosty" LittleJim HowleRingling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus founded the first clown college in the United States. Among the graduates that year were Clown Hall of Fame inductees Jim Howle (left), Glen "Frosty" Little (right), and Keith Crary (no picture found yet), all of whom were offered and accepted contracts with the circus.  (Pictures courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame).

Irvin Feld, in order to cover more location and dates with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, created an entirely new circus that he called the Blue Unit. The existing circus was called the Red Unit. Each year the two units trade schedules and locations.

Roy "Cooky the Cook" BrownRoy Brown first appeared as "Cooky Cook" on WGN-TV's Bozo's Circus television show. He experimented with about 60 different clown characters before settling on Cooky's costume and makeup. The role of Cooky led to Roy's selection as a Clown Hall of Fame inductee. Prior to this role, he had served other functions at WGN and on Bozo's Circus, such as a puppeteer and a writer.  (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

Bozo the ClownClown Hall of Fame inductee Bob "Bozo" Bell had surgery for a brain aneurysm. While recuperating, he participated in Bozo's Circus via telephone. (Picture courtesy of WGN-TV)

Oliver O OliverRay Rayner was selected to portray Ronald McDonald for approximately one year in television ads that were aired nationwide. Before this, Rayner was best known as WGN-TV Chicago's Bozo the Clown sidekick, Oliver O. Oliver. (at left, picture courtesy of WGN-TV)

 Equestrian clown Edwin "Poodles" Hanneford,Poodles Hannefordwas inducted into the Circus Hall of Fame.

1969

Buttons McBrydeClown Hall of Fame inductee Leon "Buttons" McBryde graduated from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey clown college and was offered and accepted a contract to clown with the circus's Blue Unit.  (Picture courtesy of Larry H.'s Website)

Clown Charles Bell was inducted into the Circus Hall of Fame.

Anni FratelliniClown Hall of Fame inductee Annie Fratellini married Pierre Etaix,  a big circus fan.


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   This Website was updated on: 08/12/2004