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list of Famous Clowns of the circus, stage, screen and television

list of Famous Clowns of the circus, stage, screen and television

Famous Clowns in history

Much of the information presented herein is borrowed shamelessly from the Clown Hall of Fame. Much thanks to them. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, drop by – you won’t be disappointed.

A listing of some of the famous clowns of history. If you don’t see someone listed that you think is deserving, please add a note in the comments, or email us. Read More…

A History of Clowns

A History of Clowns

(thanks to Bruce “Charlie” Johnson and The Clown Hall of Fame)


The art of clowning has existed for thousands of years. A pygmy clown performed as a jester in the court of Pharaoh Dadkeri-Assi during Egypt’s Fifth Dynasty about 2500 B.C. Court jesters have performed in China since 1818 B.C. Throughout history most cultures have had clowns. Read More…

Kentucky Clown Derby

Calling All Clowns, Magicians, Puppeteers, 

Jugglers, Mimes & Storytellers!

Bringing Excellence to the Performing Arts!

Come Celebrate, Laugh, and Learn at KCD on our 24th Birthday
with our special theme of:

Celebrating Circus Daze!

With Special Classes for Fire Safety Presenters.


Paul Wenzel

Paul Wenzel

Paul Wenzel, in one of his props, seemingly pulled by a gooseProfessor Paul Wenzel was born in 1878, and performed as a circus clown for over 60 years throughout the United States of America. Paul Wenzel appeared with large and small shows before finding a permanent home with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Read More…

American Clown Academy

We are a week-long camp teaching the Fine Art of Clowning. We provide training to a limited number of students by a large group of the very best instructors. In 2012, we had 30 students and 6 teachers. In 2013 we has 30 students and 9 teachers. During the week-long schedule you will participate in lectures, as well as enjoying time for one-on-one discussions with the teaching staff. We are striving to put the “personal touch” back into clown education.This year’s camp happens August 18-22, 2014 in Newark Ohio. We are about 40 minutes from the Columbus airport, and 10 minutes from I-70.

If you would like to know more about what is happening in 2014, or just see what we did last year, you can find information about us both here and on our Facebook page: American Clown Academy. For more specific information you can reach me by email at the “contact me” button at the bottom of the page, or you can call me at 614-256-7905. We look forward to having you join us in 2014.

Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp

Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp is a 6-day intensive training program designed to meet the needs of people who want to learn to be “real” clowns. We teach ALL aspects of Clown Arts, including hospital/caring clowning, birthday parties, parades, magic, balloons, puppetry, face painting, and everything in between. Our marvelous teaching staff meets you at the performance level you are at now, and challenges you to be the best clown that YOU can be!

If you can’t find the information that you’re looking for on this site, email us or call us at 320-963-6277.


Bling Bling Jam

Bling Bling Jam
July 2​8 + 29
Las Vegas, Nevada
​At the Fremont Hotel and Casino
​We will also jam on the 30th.. Folks are all staying a few extra days!

Swede Johnson

Swede Johnson

Swede Johnson was born Carl Gehlert Johansen in Ribe, Denmark in 1903. Swede was a fourth generation circus performer, and traveled with his family in their own circus throughout the Scandinavian countries while growing up. At the age of 15, he went to work in the Hagenbeck Zoo in Germany; later that year, he came to the USA from Denmark as an assistant to Alfred Court, a wild animal trainer.

Swede Johnson, famous animal trainerAfter coming to the United States, Swede took the first job that he could find — as a rodeo clown, afterwards becoming a circus clown. He then had a long career in the circus, working at different times and circuses as clown, animal trainer, and other things. Some of the circuses that he performed in include the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey, Bradley & Benson Circus & Rodeo, C. R. Montgomery Circus, Elks Circus, Shrine Circus, Biller Brothers, Rogers Brothers, Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, Paul A. Miller shopping center circus.

Swede Johnson, whiteface circus clownIn his personal life, he married his wife Mabel, and they had their daughter, Ann, in 1953. In 1969, he sold his trained animals, and retired. Two days later, he met with a friend at the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus — and ended his retirement. He joined Ringling in 1969 as clowning boss, and worked there until 1976.

Swede Johnson passed away the next year. He was survived by his daughter and 2 grandchildren, all of whom became circus performers in their own right.

In 2014, Swede Johnson was inducted into the Clown Hall of Fame in Baraboo, Wisconsin.


Swede Johnson’s induction into the Clown Hall of Fame

California Clown Campin

This is the only camp that offers a special Clown Encounter at the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus

6 Days of Education, Laughing, Networking and Entertainment
Meals, Quality Accommodations, Photo DVD, T-Shirt

Chance to become a guest performer at the Circus

FREE Airport Shuttle, FREE parking

Plus more!


The World of Clowns

The World of Clowns

The World of Clowns, by George Spreight

Buy from

A wonderful book (now unfortunately out of print, but you should be able to find a copy in your library, used bookstore, or :)

It does not deal with make-up, costuming, skits, juggling, etc. It does deal with the history of clowning prior to the commedia del arté to the ‘present day’ of the 1950′s. If you’re looking for current information, you’ll have to look elsewhere, although it has a treasure trove of information from the heydey of the circus in the first half of the 20th century. Read More…

The Buck Book

The Buck Book

The Buck Book: All Sorts of Things to Do With a Dollar Bill — Besides Spend It, by Anne Akers Johnson

The Buck Book, by Klutz Press

Buy from

I have a weakness for Klutz books — they seem to be universally easy to follow, fun, and fairly usable for clowning. This is a good example. In essence, The Buck Book is really just a glorified origami book; but a very good origami book, focusing on what can be folded from a dollar bill. As you can see in the illustration, it includes a ring, a ring with a dime as the ‘gem’, an elephant, a peacock, a jumping frog, and more.

Like all of the Klutz Press books, it’s well-written, clearly illustrated, with step-by-step instructions for making all of the creations. It even includes a dollar bill to start you with. Read More…

The Hospital Clown

The Hospital Clown

book review – The Hospital Clown – A Closer Look
What Hospitals Need to Know About Clowns, What Clowns Need to Know About Hospitals
by Patty Wooten and Shobhana “Shobi” Schwebke

The Hospital Clown a Closer Look: What Hospitals Need to Know About Clowns, What Clowns Need to Know About Hospitals

Buy from

Perhaps you’ve heard about hospital clowns — these are the clowns who go into hospitals to spread cheer. But how do they start? What training do they need? Do they need certifications, or medical training? This book answers these and many more questions. Read More…