Because Reading is Fundamental...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Clown Portraits



















Available here and here.

16 comments:

Gomez said...

is it alright if I cry?

Joey said...

Yes, but watch your mascara...

Collage Adventures said...

Simply amazing, great find!

Joey said...

Thanks!

Ladywaters said...

Wow, that is some scary stuff.

Halloween Jack said...

Terry Pratchett was absolutely right about clowns.

Archivist/Cultural Liaison said...

I thought i saw John Lydon in there~!

Pat Cashin said...

These photos were part of a life magazine spread on the clowns of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in, I believe, the late 40s.

Keep in mind that most of these makeups were meant to be seen from about a quarter mile away, to help the performers' facial expressions read better in a dimly lit three ring big top tent.

The clowns I can definitely identify are:

#2 Art Cooksey
#3 Felix Adler
#4 Johnny Tripp
#5 Chesty Mortimer
#7 Irv "Ricky" Romig
#8 Lou Jacobs
#9 Frankie Saluto
#10 Prince Paul Alpert
#12 Ernie Burch
#15 Jimmy Armstrong
#16 Buzzy Potts
#17 Myron Orton

I'm really interested in exploring the classic clown makeups of the Golden Age of the American three ring tented circus as a vanishing American folk art.

Very few professional clowns anywhere in the world invest in their craft to the extent that these guys used to. The last clown wig maker in New York closed up shop a few years back. The man who used to make all the shoes for the Ringling clowns has passed away.

These larger-than-life human cartoons are a thing of the past and it's unlikely that we'll ever see clowns like this again.


Pat Cashin
International Clown Hall of Fame
Board of Directors

P.S. I have 5,000 photos and videos of classic clowns from around the world at my blog, clownalley.net

Joey said...

GREAT info. Pat! Thanks so much for posting. Your site is a trove of information!

Archivist/Cultural Liaison said...

Another thanks to Pat too! these people deserve credit for their work~!

Joey said...

Absolutely agree. This is a part of our cultural history that's so important to preserve and share.

Pat Cashin said...

I found the article. It was published in the July 11, 1949 issue of Life magazine. There was a short piece and then a large photo of Paul Jung (murdered in his hotel room during a robbery during Ringling's run at the old Garden in 1965)and then these photos.

The article misidentifies most of these photos but this should round out Who's Who:


#1 Eddie Buresh
#6 Jackie Gerlich
#11 Edwin Green
#13 John Reilly
#14 Carl Stephan
#18 Frank Luley


Google Books has the article online if anyone is interested in reading it. You can go there and type in Life, July and 1949 or see if this link works:

http://books.google.com/books?id=3FEEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA66&dq=life+clowns+1949&hl=en&sa=X&ei=bZo7T_K-DtDD0AGs_O2iCw&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=life%20clowns%201949&f=false

lectrichead said...

Just plain creepy...

Mr Wombat said...

My Dad was in a three ring circus.

Him and two other assholes.

Anonymous said...

I used a few of these to prank my friend Kim. I saved them to her laptop when she wasn't looking, and set them as the screensaver. She freaked.

Joey said...

NICE. What a great friend you are! lol