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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Mark Anthony, art by Bill Ballentine

Mark Anthony photo gallery

Mark Anthony photo gallery – famous tramp circus clown

Mark Anthony was a great tramp clown of the 20th century, highly skilled in creating foam props as well. (more…)

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Harold "Happy" Kellems

Happy Kellems

Harold “Happy” Kellems (1905-1987)

Harold “Happy” Kellems
Harold “Happy” Kellems

Happy Kellems was a tramp-character clown, minstrel, and vaudeville performer. A native of Evansville, Indiana, he began his entertainment career in medicine shows, joined by longtime partner, Van Wells. Together they moved to vaudeville and burlesque and then turning to minstrel shows, which became their great love. (more…)

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Hobo Jim - Jim Howle

Jim Howle, tramp clown, artist and teacher

Jim HowleJIM HOWLE (1939 – )

Jim Howle is one of the most versatile clowns performing today. In addition to his performing skills, which are finely honed, he is also a famous artist and expert on clown make up.

Jim is a native of Darlington, South Carolina, where his mother was an artist, and Jim was pulled into clowning through art. While attending the Ringling School of Art, he learned of the creation of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Clown College. He applied, was accepted, and was graduated from the original class in 1968. (more…)

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Frosty Little applying makeup

How do I start clowning? clown makeup, part 1

Clown Tutorial – creating your clown face – clown makeup introduction

There are many things to be said about clown makeup – €”however, there is one thing that must come first. Ignore what you’ve heard — €”your clown face is not a mask! It’s entirely the opposite — rather than hide your features, it should enable you to show off your features. Make-up comes from the theater, where facial expressions need to be seen even from the back row. That’s why the oldest style of clown is the whiteface clown. Black on white simply shows up best from a distance (there’€™s probably a joke in here somewhere about a newspaper, but we’€™ll let that pass for now). (more…)

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Assistant Director, college professor, and a truly great clown, Lee Mullaly, doing his Staff on Stage as Juggles.

Clown Costume part 2 – part of the clowning tutorial

Let’s talk about some of the specifics of your clown costume. Keep in mind a few basic guidelines:

  • Colorful – you want to be seen from a distance
  • Large patterns – you need to be seen from a distance; as well, this visually establishes your ‘clownishness’
  • Contrast, not conflict – you want to have physical contrast built into your outfit, but you don’t want the individual items to clash

So, where do I find this wonderful costume? (more…)

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Emmett Kelly as Weary Willie

Emmett Kelly Sr. biography – world famous tramp clown

Emmett Kelly, Sr. (December 9, 1898 – March 28, 1979) – Weary Willy

Emmett Kelly as Weary WillieEmmett Kelly Sr., the most well-known of the tramp clowns of the circus. His character, Weary Willy, was the perpetual underdog, who never gave up – and, because of it, occasionally won.   He was inducted into the Clown Hall of Fame in 1989.   (more…)

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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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