Different Types of Clowns

There are three basic types of clowns:

Classic Whiteface, demonstrated by Frosty Little
Auguste clown - Leon McBryde (Buttons)
Tramp clown - Emmett Kelly Sr. - painting by Jim Howle
The Whiteface clown is the oldest and most well-known of the clownsThe Auguste  clown is the least intelligent, and zaniest of the clownsThe character clown is most commonly represented by the Sad Tramp or Happy Hobo

Special thanks to Jim Howle, for the graphics of the clowns found on these pages.

Hagenbeck-Wallace circus poster, with a wide variety of clowns
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Close up of Ron “Toto” Johnson’s auguste face

Toto Johnson photo gallery

Toto Johnson photo gallery, former Ringling Brother clown – a talented Auguste. (more…)

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Pat Cashin and three of his clown characters

Pat Cashin

Pat Cashin and three of his clown characters
Pat Cashin and three of his clown characters

Pat Cashin (1968- July 24, 2016)

Pat Cashin was a former Ringling Brothers clown, who performed a variety of characters, at a variety of circuses, owner of the Captain Kangaroo character, and was a popular mall Santa.


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Achille Zavata

Achille Zavatta

Achille Zavatta (May 6, 1915 – November 16, 1993)

Achille Zavatta was one of the most famous French clowns, as well as an artist, composer, and circus operator. (more…)

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Barry Lubin as Grandma the Clown

Barry Lubin – Grandma

Barry Lubin as Grandma
Barry Lubin as Grandma

Biography of Barry Lubin – “Grandma”

(July 3, 1952 – )

A member of the 1974 class of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, he performed for 5 years with the Greatest Show on Earth. He also performed at the prestigious International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo in 1977. Since 1982, Barry has been featured in 15 productions of the Big Apple Circus and has become that show’s Director of Clowning conceiving, co-writing and starring in the Big Apple Circus’ production Grandma Goes to Hollywood. He performed at the 6th International Circus Festival of Budapest in January, 2006 where he was awarded the Special Prize from the Director of The Great Moscow Circus. (more…)

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Jackie Le Claire, inducted into 1996 Clown Hall of Fame

Jackie Le Claire (1927 – 2019)

Jackie’s parents were performers with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus when he was born. He started clowning at a very young age, and as a young man became a salaried performer in partnership with his father who was also a clown. When he was 19, Jackie became an aerialist. He soon returned to clowning but maintained his aerial skills. He doubled on the trapeze for Cornell Wilde in the film Greatest Show on Earth. After graduating from high school, Jackie took his father’s place in the show the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey sent to Havana, Cuba. During the 1950’s Jackie booked his one-man act for fairs and other circuses. In the 1960’s he once again worked with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus.

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Charlie Rivel, 1967, performing his act

Charlie Rivel

Josep Andreu i Lasserre (April 23, 1896 – July 26, 1983), best known as Charlie Rivel, was an internationally known Spanish circus clown. He was born in Cubelles (Barcelona, Spain). His parents Pere Andreu Pausas (Spanish) and Marie-Louise Lasarre (French) were circus artists as well.

Charlie Rivel was Europe’s most famous and popular clown. His costume trademark was a long red jersey that had accidentally been stretched in the laundry. A performance at the Grona Lunds Tivoli in Stockholm in 1979 marked his 80th year in show business. (more…)

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Dr. Richard Snowberg as Snowflake Junior

Biography of Richard Snowberg, aka Snowflake – caring clown, founder of Clown Camp

Richard SnowbergRichard Snowberg (??? – ) – Snowflake

I met Dr. Richard Snowberg when my wife & I attended Clown Camp ® at the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse in 1998. Unfortunately, Dr. Snowberg, the founder of Clown Camp, was not able to participate that year, as he had to teach classes that week.   Yes, he was a professor at the UW-La Crosse. He made time in his busy schedule to hold a late-night session on caring clowning anyway, lasting past midnight as I recall. That illustrates his character very well, in my opinion; he went the extra mile to help other clowns be better prepared. (more…)

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Steve "T.J. Tatters" Smith (1951 - )

Steve Smith, aka. TJ Tatters

Steve “T.J. Tatters” Smith (August 8, 1951 – )

Steve Smith, aka. TJ TattersSteve Smith is best known as the director of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey‘s Clown College. He was a graduate of the college (1971) and a performer and goodwill ambassador with the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey show’s blue unit for the next six years. He moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he received his bachelor’s degree in acting from the Goodman School of Drama. At Clown College, Steve not only served in an administrative capacity, but also taught several classes and conducted nationwide auditions for new students. Steve’s energy and enthusiasm has made him a popular teacher and lecturer on clowning throughout the U.S. He was appointed director for the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey circus in 1992. (more…)

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Face of Leon McBryde as Buttons

Leon McBryde, aka. “Buttons” biography

Leon McBryde, aka. “Buttons” (1943 – )

Inducted into the 1990 Clown Hall of Fame

Buttons, Leon McBrydeGrowing up in Texas, at the age of 7 young Leon McBryde watched Lou Jacobs perform in the Ringling Brothers circus, and thought that it would be wonderful to do that when he grew up.

In 1969, he got that opportunity when “Buttons” was accepted into the Ringling Brothers Clown College; a year later, he was touring with the Blue Unit of Ringling as a professional clown, and the following year working as Ringling’s Good Will Ambassador — as well as teaching at their Clown College.   He spent the next six years traveling coast to coast, performing at schools and hospitals. (more…)

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