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.
In 1970, a children’s theater troupe asked Don to play the role of a clown, and he fell in love with the art of clowning. By 1972, he had created his character, Homer, a happy tramp clown.
For the past 31 years together with his wife and assistant “Dee” have performed in over 10,000 performances, on television, in theaters, at trade shows, corporate events ,and private parties. In that time, Homer has won twenty-three first and second place awards in clown and character make-up, skits and balloon sculpturing, and in 1995 received the prestigious honor of being inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame. The Burdas have been instructors at the UW-La Crosse Clown Camp ® since 1986, and also lecture frequently on the Art of Clowning. For the last four years has conducted Clown Encounters, weekend conferences taught by Don and Leon “Buttons” McBryde. Don is the author of the popular balloon sculpture book, Homer’s Rubber Bubbles.
After a prolonged illness, Don Burda has passed away on September 11, 2008. His wife, Dee, also passed away in 2010. They are survived by their daughter, Denise.
Quotes from Don Burda:
- “The appeal of the clown is that he’s in a little world of his own and everything happens to him. And they go on. No matter what happens to the clown, he always goes on.”
- “I realized what this clown character had done – It had such an impact on people. I had to pursue it. I still did theater for a while, then switched to my own clowning business. I changed the whole direction of my career. It’s still theater but it’s a new character that I created.”