To mark 250 years of the circus, we wonder at its feats, honk its red nose and cheer at its colourful past - turn to page 90 of June's The Simple Things
Five of the most famous clowns
Joseph Grimaldi 1778–1837
Not strictly a circus clown (he performed mainly in panto), but deserving of a mention as he was the first to sport ‘whiteface’ and a red smile, and is known as ‘the father of modern clowning’.
A Swiss acrobat, Charles Wettach started as a clown in 1903. He left the circus to perform in music halls instead, subverting the form, as someone who ran away from the circus rather than to it.
Emmett Kelly 1898–1979
American, Kelly, clowned as ‘Weary Willie’, a character based on the ‘hobos’ of the depression era. His son, Emmett Kelly Junior later continued the act.
Charlie Cairoli 1910–1980
French clown of Italian descent, Charlie began clowning at the age of seven as ‘Carletto’ and later worked at Blackpool Tower’s circus for 40 years.
Lou Jacobs 1903–1992
The first ‘Auguste’ clown (the ‘red’ clown types with big shoes, lairy trousers and orange wigs), Lou Jacobs is credited with popularising the ‘clown car’ and also being the first to sport a red rubber ball as a nose.