Oleg Popov (1930 – 2016)
Oleg Popov was inducted into the Clown Hall of Fame in 1993
Born July 31, 1930 in Vyrubovo, Russia, Oleg Popov became the top clown with the Moscow State Circus. Known as the “Sunshine Clown,” Popov’s character is considered gentle and poetic. He graduated from the Moscow circus school in 1949 and was made assistant to the great Karandash, who taught Popov the nuances of clowning. Popov is talented on the slack-wire and has a repertoire of over 80 clown sketches. This gentle satirist has taken his expertness at wire walking and juggling, and incorporated these skills with traditional gags and soft humor.
In 1955, he became the first Soviet clown to perform outside Russia. His stated goal is to “create joy, not laughter for it’s own sake.”
In 1991, Oleg Popov emigrated from Russia to Germany. There he met and married a German lady named Gabriel, and they live together happily. In 2006, Oleg Popov was invited to perform at the 30th anniversary of the International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo. He received a standing ovation – at 75 years old.
In 2015, he returned for the first time to Russia after 28 years of living in Germany. Oleg Popov was attending the First “Master” gala event at the State Circus of Sochi, where he was again greeted with a long standing ovation. The Russian Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medinsky read a welcoming message from President Vladimir Putin. In December of 2015 returned to Russia again – as of the judges at the final show of “The Blue Bird” contest – a young talent competition on Russia 1 TV channel. He also teamed up with Artem Shilo – a young pianist and one of the contestants – to support him in the competition.
Oleg Popov, the Sunshine Clown, died on November 2, 2016, from a cardiac arrest while on tour, at the age of 86.