Joe Jackson Sr. was born as Joseph Francis Jiranek in Vienna, Austria. He was Austrian bicycle champion, and a member of a world champion bicycle polo team before he became an entertainer. He started with a serious bike riding act, and then developed it into a comedy break- away bike act performed by a tramp character.
Preferring intimate settings, Jackson worked almost exclusively in vaudeville and European one-ring circuses. His act took him to England, the European Continent, Russia, Siberia, Turkey, and most of the United States. He encouraged his son to take over the act and it was performed by either father or son for over 100 years. Following a performance at New York’s Roxy Theater, he took several curtain calls, and then died in the wings.
He was posthumously inducted into the Clown Hall of Fame in 1994.