Wheeler the Clown

Wheeler Presents A Chronology of                            Clowndom

                      This Page Takes You from 1900 - 1909

New Material Added On 07/27/2004


Civil War Era clown and Clown Hall of Fame inductee Daniel "Yankee Dan Rice" McLaren Jr. died (born:1823Yankee Dan Rice). Yankee Dan wore no makeup but had a variety of costumes. His image in one of these costumes is thought by many to be the Ogden Nash's inspiration for his cartoon character now USA symbol, Uncle Sam. Yankee Dan was so famous that he made more a week than the United States President, whom he considered a personal friend; in fact, he was known as the unofficial jester to President Lincoln. He was also a personal friend of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee; a fact which caused angry riots at some of his shows in Northern states during the civil war years.

Clown Hall of Fame inductee and British circus great Nikolai "Coco" Poliakov was born in Russia.


Clown Hall of Fame inductee and circus great Paul Jung was born in Dayton, Ohio USA.


Six year old Clown Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Rivels began performing a head balancing act with his sister who was one year younger.


Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Jacob "Lou Jacobs" Ludwig was born in Wesermude, Bremerhaven, Germany.


The popular clown duo Brick and Brock split up due to Brock's military service, and Brick took on a new partner, Karl Adrian Wettach. Adrian. Karl so liked the name of his predecessor that he took the stage name of Grock. Grock thus began an illustrious career that led to his induction into the Clown Hall of Fame.


Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly Sr. received the first spanking he could remember, for climbing a telephone pole and sitting on the crossbeam until his terrified mother and neighbors got him to climb halfway back down so that he could be rescued. According to Emmett Sr., the pole was much higher than the tent in which he later performed his first aerial act.


Marceline OrbesMarceline Orbes left England to spend the next decade as a highly successful Auguste clown in New York (at the Hippodrome).


Vitaly Lazarenko the Elder decided to become a clown. Prior to that he had Lazarenko Sr.spent eight years employed in Soviet Union circuses as a tumbler and leaper; talents that blended perfectly with his new vocation.

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Frankie Saluto was born. He was one of the little people. (a circus name for dwarf or midget performers) 


The Ringling BrothersJames Bailey died, and at the end of the season, the Ringling Brothers (right) purchased their biggest competitor, the Barnum & Bailey Circus, from his widow. At this point, they continued to run The Ringling Brothers Circus and The Barnum & Bailey Circus as separate entities.

Michael "Karandash" Rumyantsev, Russia's most popular clown in the 1960s and 1970s, was born. (Karandash is Russian for pencil).

Clown Hall of Fame inductee Alphonse "Al Ross" Helwig was born in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Vladimir Durov Russian comic Vladimir Durov was banned from Germany after he insulted Kaiser Wilhelm intentionally during one of his performances. He had dressed his trained pig in a helmet identical to the Kaiser's and taught it to drag a sword around the performance ring, thus insinuating that the Kaiser was a warmonging pig.  He had previously been banned from certain cities in Russia (i.e. Odessa) for similar reasons.


Clown Hall of Fame inductee  Bobbie Kaye was born.  

At the age of eight, Nikolai "Coco" Poliakov ran away from home to work for an organ grinder, beginning a career in entertainment that eventually led to his induction into the Clown Hall of Fame.

Bert Austin WilliamsClown Hall of Fame inductee  Bert Williams developed his tramp clown character and solo act following the death of his vaudeville partner, leading to an even more successful career.  (Picture courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame)


The Fratellini

Paul Fratellini

Francois Fratellini

Albert Fratellini




Clown Hall of Fame inductees the Fratellini Brothers began their trio clown act in France, inspired by their brother, Louis, (also a clown) who had died that year. Although Paul, the eldest, was a traditional auguste of that time period, Albert, the youngest, created a clown face that became the model for the present day Auguste clown.  Francois was a traditional whiteface.

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   This Website was updated on: 07/27/2004