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Famous Circus Clowns

Here we provide information about the best and most popular circus clowns till the present day. Some of them have also been inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame.
Abhay Burande
The best clowns are related to theater, film, television, and circus. A list of such people has been compiled here.

Johann Ludwig Jacob

He was inducted in the International Clown Hall of Fame in 1989. He was also known as Lou Jacobs, and he performed for more than 60 years in the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey. He was the first living person to have his portrait on an American postage stamp. He also was the initiator of the red rubber ball nose, used by many clowns after him.

Otto Griebling

He is known as the finest circus clown from the United States. He was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame in 1989. He worked for Sells Floto, Cole Bros. And the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circuses. His performance was done either silent manner, or in pantomime.

George Carl

He was a true "vaudevillian" style comic and clown. Johnny Carson, who was a tremendous fan of Carl's, gave him an invitation for The Tonight Show. His appearance was so well appreciated that he was requested for another one in a matter of few weeks.

Glen "Frosty" Little

He was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame in 1991. His career spanned over three decades. He was a member of the first Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown college graduating class. He was the "Boss Clown" of the Red Unit from 1968 to 1980. He even had breakfast with President Richard Nixon.

Dan Rice

He was such an outstanding personality before the "Civil War" in the United States, that in a specific range of years, he was a more famous than Abraham Lincoln or Mark Twain. The Arkansas paper glorified Rice's circus as the "Greatest Show on Earth". In 1868, he ran for the President of the United States election, and dropped out.

Jose Vega Santana a.k.a. Remi

He is considered as Puerto Rico's greatest clown. A book "Remi, El Clown" describes his adventures as a clown. He has made many presentations in the United States. While he was a student at the Inter-American University, he developed the character of "Remi". His group called themselves as "Los Dulces Payasos" or "The Sweet Clowns".

Yuri Vladimirovich Nikulin

He was qualified as a fully-trained clown at Moscow's Tsvetnoy Boulevard Circus in 1950. In 1982, he became the director of the Moscow Circus. There exists a bronze monument of him in front of the circus. He was one of the most popular men in Russia, as he expressed the daily woes and laughter of the Soviet layman.

Emmett Kelly

He created the memorable clown figure "Weary Willie". From 1942 to 1956, he performed with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Then, he appeared in the Bertram Mills Circus. The Emmett Kelly Museum is built in Sedan, Kansas, in his honor. There is a photograph where he is shown trying to extinguish flames of the Hartford Circus Fire of 1944.

Oleg Konstantinovich Popov

He is called the "Sun of the clowns". He won the Oscar of the clown world "The Golden Clown of Monte Carlo", in 1981. He was invited to perform at the 30th anniversary of the International Festival of the Circus of Monte-Carlo. Although he was 75 years old, he inspired a royal standing ovation. His career began at the Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard.

Josep Andreu i Lasserre or Charlie Rivel

His name is inspired from Charlie Chaplin. He was an internationally famous Catalan circus clown. In Cubelles, the Charlie Rivel Hall is a museum in his honor.

Joe Jackson Sr.

He was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame in 1994. His exclusively worked in Vaudeville and European one-ring circuses.

Antonio Melo a.k.a. Batatinha

He is a popular Portuguese clown, who initially worked with another clown called Croquete, and later with Companhia. Since 2003, he has been performing solo.

Jack Perry and Doug McKenzie or Zig and Zag

These are an Australian duo. For more than four decades, they appeared on the annual HSV-7 Royal Children's Hospital Appeal. In 1999, they were appointed Kings of Moomba.

Quail Dobbs

He was a famous rodeo clown and performer. For more than thirty years, he entertained rodeo crowds in the United States, Canada, and Australia. His clowning acts involved trained animals and a Ford Model.

Mikhail Nikolayevich Rumyantsev or Karandash

This famous Soviet clown was the "People's Artist of the USSR", and the mentor of Oleg Popov and Yuri Nikulin. Along with the Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard, he toured South America in 1960. The Moscow Circus school was named in his honor.

Vicki Frances Gabereau

She is a Canadian radio and television personality who worked as a professional clown. Her autobiography is named as "This Won't Hurt a Bit". In 1974, she contested for the Mayor of Toronto.

Johnny Tatum

He was a famous rodeo clown, and collaborated with the biggest rodeos like Cheyenne Frontier Days and Calgary Stampede.

Charles Adrien Wettach or Grock

He was a Swiss circus and music hall clown. At one time, he was the highest paid artist in Europe.

Bim Bom

He was a Moscow circus clown, and was well-known for making jokes of prominent leaders of the new Communist government in Russia.

Achille Zavatta

He was a French clown. When he was three, he performed in his family circus with his brothers Michel and Rolph called the "Zavatta Trio".
Some other famous circus clowns are:
  • Ian P
  • The Rastellis
  • Kahlan Brooks
  • Drosta
  • David Konyot
  • The Fratellinis
  • Blinko - Ernie Burch
  • Francesco Caroli