Famous Clowns

Don Burda, aka. Homer the happy hobo

Don Burda, Homer the happy hobo

Don Burda, aka. Homer the happy hoboDon Burda, Homer the happy hobo (1935 – 2008)

Don Burda grew up in the small town of Friend, Nebraska, and married his high school sweetheart, Delores (better known as “Dee”€™), in 1956. In 1960, he moved to California to pursue a theatrical career, and during a period of 15 years was cast in thirty-eight stage productions. But a phone call in 1970 changed the course of his life. (more…)

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Ernie Burch - Blinko

Ernie Blinko Burch – famous circus & casino clown

Ernie Blinko Burch (1929 – 1997)

Ernie Burch - BlinkoBorn around 1929 in Linden NJ.   At age 15, he ran away from home and followed the  Ringling Bros. circus to Georgetown Texas.   He eventually joined them as   a whiteface clown.   Over the years he was with several   top name circuses. Ernie appeared in 17 scenes of the movie “The Greatest Show on Earth“. It was  Cecil B. DeMille who gave him his clown name, Blinko, because of the 2-1/2″ green eyelashes that he wore. Ernie used a  whiteface make-up, and his eyelashes and treble cleft in the middle of his forehead were his trademarks. (more…)

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Color photo of Roy Brown as WGN-TV's Cooky

Roy Brown – our kooky cook Cooky from WGN-TV’s Bozo the Clown TV show

Roy “Cooky” Brown (1932 – 2001)

Roy Thomas Brown (July 8, 1932 -€“ January 22, 2001), the man behind Cooky the Cook for 25 years on “Bozo’s Circus” and “The Bozo Show” on WGN-TV.  He passed away on January 22, 2001, in his adopted hometown of Chicago due to a heart ailment. He was 68 years old. Inducted into the  Clown Hall of Fame in 1993, Roy Brown created the lovable character “Cooky” for the Bozo Show and in 1992 received an Emmy award for his portrayal. (more…)

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Rebo the clown, portrayed by Bev Bergeron

Bev Bergeron, Rebo the magic clown

Beverly “Rebo” Bergeron (?? – present)

Rebo the clown, portrayed by Bev BergeronEveryone has seen a clown twisting a single balloon into a dog — but who did it first? The answer, unsurprisingly, is Bev Bergeron, in 1959. But he first came to national prominence a year earlier, in 1958, when he created Rebo the Clown to co-star with Mark Wilson and Nani Darnelle in the television series, Magic Circus and the Magic Land of Allakazam. (more…)

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Mark Anthony, art by Bill Ballentine

Mark Anthony, famous tramp clown

Mark Anthony, famous circus tramp clown

Mark Anthony, introduced to the Clown Hall of Fame in 1989

Mark Anthony at the circus - color photo
Mark Anthony at the circus – color photo

Mark Anthony was born Mark Galkowski in Norwich, Connecticut in 1915. During the depression, he first joined the circus in 1937 in South Carolina. Except for a two-year stint in the Merchant Marines during World War II, he spent most of his life working with various circuses: Sells-Floto, Harris Show, Dan Rice Circus, Clyde-Beaty-Cole Bros., and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. Although in early years he was seen as a whiteface, throughout the past decades he has been a unique tramp clown. He spent four years working with a circus in Australia, and 10 weeks in the Soviet Union. (more…)

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clown picture - painting of Paul Alpert, aka. Prince Paul

Prince Paul, circus clown

Paul ‘Prince Paul’ Alpert (1913 – 1987)

clown picture - painting of Paul Alpert, aka. Prince Paul

Inducted into the  Clown Hall of Fame in 1992, Paul Alpert became a  famous little person, after gaining a start in clowning in 1933 with the Paul Jung troupe.  The Bangor, Maine native went on to fame as a  Ringling Bros. clown, performing for more than 50 years. He also became a frequent instructor at the circus’ Clown College in Florida.

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Felix Adler with his wife and clown partner, Amelia

Felix Adler, king of clowns

Felix Adler (June 17, 1895 – February 1, 1960) – The White House Clown, King of Clowns

Inducted into the Clown Hall of Fame in 1989.

Felix Adler grew up on a small farm outside of Clinton, Iowa, with his father Joseph and mother Nettie. Some accounts state that he left home and went to join Ringling Brothers Circus at the age of ten or thirteen (accounts differ), although his sister disputes them. (more…)

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The Marx Brothers - Chico, Zeppo, Groucho, Harpo

Groucho Marx biography

Groucho Marx (October 2, 1890 – August 19, 1977)

Julius Henry Marx, better known to the world as  Groucho Marx, was born on October 2, 1890, to Samuel “Frenchie” Marx and his wife, Minnie Schoenberg Marx. The third child, Groucho felt tension with his oldest brother  Chico. (more…)

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Circus, on PBS

If you’re not watching the documentary “Circus” on PBS, you’ve nobody to blame but yourself.  It follows the Big Apple Circus during their 2008 season, and features some of America’s greatest active clowns, including Barry Lubin as Grandma, Steve Smith (as guest director), Glen Heroy, and several others.  And as a bonus, the various other acts as well 🙂 (more…)

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George Fox

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. (more…)

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