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Wheeler the Clown    Wheeler Presents A                      Chronology of Clowndom

This Page Takes You from 1970 - 1979


New Material Added On 08/09/2004
1970

Peggy WilliamsPeggy Williams became the first woman accepted into the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Clown College. She graduated, was given a contract and spent the next ten years as an excellent performing clown, which earned her induction into the Clown Hall of Fame.

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Buttons McBryde Leon "Buttons" McBryde was named the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Goodwill Ambassador. (Picture courtesy of Larry H.'s Website)

Glen "Frosty" Little

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Glen "Frosty" Little was named Boss Clown for the Red Unit of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

Don "Homer" Burda

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Don "Homer" Burda first performed as a clown, at the request of a children's theatre troupe.

Bob "Bozo" Bell in original red suit Bob Bell as Bozo the ClownClown Hall of Fame inductee Bob Bell received an Emmy award for his portrayal of Bozo the Clown. This was also the year of a major change in Bob's "Bozo" costume. It was changed from red to blue.  (Pictures courtesy of WGN-TV)

Otto GrieblingClown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Otto Griebling's larynx was surgically removed. This did not affect his clown act, which was always silent.

Third generation clown Joey KellyNBC aired a documentary entitled Circus Town. The featured performer was "Joey" Kelly, son of Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly, Jr. and grandson of Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly Sr. NBC continued to air the documentary for several years. (picture courtesty of Joey Kelly)

1971 Frankie Saluto

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Frankie Saluto retired from the circus. (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

Bobby Kay

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Kaye joined the teaching staff of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

T.J. Tatters SmithClown Hall of Fame inductee Steve "T. J. Tatters" Smith graduated from the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Clown College, and was given a contract to perform and act as a goodwill ambassador with the blue unit. (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

Public Law 91-443 was signed into law by U.S. President Richard Nixon, creating the first official National Clown Week.  Bill Bill "Boom-Boom" Bailey"Boom-Boom" Bailey (right) had been appointed chairman of National Clown Week the previous year, and he served almost continuously in the position until his death in 1990. (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

Larry HarmonBozo - Picture KThe Larry Harmon Pictures Corporation purchased Capital Records' copyright to the Bozo the Clown records. Harmon now owned the exclusive rights to every facet of Bozo the Clown.  (Pictures courtesy of WGN-TV)

Anni FratelliniClown Hall of Fame inductee Anni Fratellini co-starred in a Frederico Fellini mockumentary entitled The Clowns. (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

1972

Felix Adler was inducted Felix Adlerinto the Circus Hall of Fame. Also inducted that year was circus manager and former clown, Pat Valdo (Valdo's picture not found yet).

Otto GrieblingClown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Otto Griebling died. (born 1896 in Colenz, Germany). His larynx had been removed two years before, but this did not affect his clown act, which was always silent.

Charles Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin returned to the United States after years of self exile to be presented with an honorary Academy Award.

Weary Willie Jr. Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly Jr. fulfilled a dream by creating the Emmett Kelly Jr. Circus. It became the only circus to ever perform at the White House. (Which it has done twice.)

Don "Homer" Burda

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Don Burda first performed as his tramp clown character, Homer.

1973 Otto Griebling

Clown and former equestrian Otto Griebling was inducted into the Circus Hall of Fame.

Already a seasoned circus clown and performer in Hungary, Mihaly Mezaros joined the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, billed as Michu, the Michusmallest clown on earth, and the smallest man on earth. At a mere 2 feet 9 inches tall, Michu is shorter than Barnum's famous General Tom Thumb was at the time of his death. (However, the General was shorter than Michu at the time he was working for P.T. Barnum; he just hadn't finished growing.) 

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Dimitri Dimitriappeared in the United States, performing with the Big Apple Circus. He also won the coveted Grock Prize that year.

1974

Anni FratelliniClown Hall of Fame inductee Anni Fratellini, along with her husband Pierre Etaix, founded the Annie Fratellini Circus School; offering both artistic and technical training.  It was the first such school in France.  (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

Coco Poliakov

Clown Hall of Fame inductee and British circus great Nikolai "Coco" Poliakov died. (Born 1900 in Russia)

Jim HowleClown Hall of Fame inductee Jim Howle retired from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus to pursue his interest in painting. Since then he has created portrait paintings which are on display in the Clown Hall of Fame, the Smithsonian Institute, and the Leningrad Gallery.   (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

1975 Bobby Kay

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Kaye was put in charge of all makeup classes at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.  (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

Sir Charles ChaplinCharlie Chaplin was knighted by Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. He asked to be addressed as Sir Charles, not Sir Charlie, possibly to separate his real life from his screen character .

The Pickle Family Circus was formed in San Francisco. One of the founders, Larry Pisoni, gained fame as Lorenzo Pickle the Clown.

Clowns of America established the CHARLIE Award to honor the alley that did the most to promote National Clowns Week the previous year. CHARLIE stands for Clowns Have A Real Love In Everyone.

The first alley to win the CHARLIE AWARD was The Grand and Glorious Galaxy of Clowns, Alley #55.

Richard "Snowflake" Snowberg first performed as a clown, starting to a long career that led to his induction into the Clown Hall of Fame . Prior to this, he was a straight magician.

1976

The Sherman Bros. (Chester Sherman & Joe Vani)Clown Hall of Fame inductee Chester Sherman (far left), of the clown duo known as the Sherman Brothers, died. ( birthdate unknown). Clown Hall of Fame inductee Joe Vani,  (near left) retired when his partner died.   (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)

1977

Charlie Chaplin

Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie / the Little Tramp" Chaplin died. (born 1889 in London, England)

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

1978

The International Circus Clowns Club officially changed its name to Clowns International. The name change was in recognition of the many different spheres clowns inhabit now. (circus, private parties, theatre, etc.)

Weary Willie Sr.Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly Sr. retired from circus life.

Bob Bell as Bozo the Clown WGN-TV began to broadcast via satellite, and Clown Hall of Fame inductee Bob Bell's Bozo the Clown became a familiar face to children and adults throughout the United States.  (Picture courtesy of WGN-TV)

1979

Weary Willie Sr.Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Emmett Leo "Weary Willie" Kelly Sr. died in Sarasota, Florida. (born 1898 in Sedan, Kansas, USA) Emmett died in classic "Weary Willie" style, suffering a heart attack while taking out the trash.

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Rivels performed at the Grona Lunds Tivoli in Stockholm, Sweden, marking his 80th year in show business.


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   This Website was updated on: 08/09/2004