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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Autographed photo of Otto Griebling

Otto Griebling photo gallery

Photo gallery of Otto Griebling, famous American circus tramp clown

Many of the images are courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame (more…)

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Weary Willy sketch by Emmett Kelly

Emmett Kelly frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about the famous tramp clown, Emmett Kelly Sr., who performed with the Ringling Brothers, the Brooklyn Dodgers, on Broadway, in the movies, and elsewhere. (more…)

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Otto Griebling and baby

Otto Griebling – circus tramp clown

Otto Griebling (April 28, 1896 – April 19, 1972)

Inducted into the Clown Hall of Fame 1989

Otto Griebling, inducted into the Clown Hall of FameOtto Griebling, who became a fixture of the American circus as a tramp clown performing for the most famous circuses of the 20th Century, began his career not as a clown, but as a bareback rider.   And this American icon was born in Germany. (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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