A few months ago I was contacted by a person who works behind the scenes for the tv show American Pickers. She was interested in using an image I'd posted on August 16, 2012. The show with the image below was shown tonight. I decided I'd repost the entire piece in case anyone went searching for Felix Adler after watching the show.
The clowns I've featured in photos have been nameless, except for Felix Adler. The reason Adler is named in the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus Magazine and Daily Review is because he was the head clown at the circus.
Click on image to see it larger.
(SOURCE: Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus Magazine and Daily Review, 1940)
First Clown to Appear on Television
Felix Adler entertained millions in his role as head clown for Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. In the hierarchy of clowns, he ranked at the top as a whiteface clown.Felix Adler died on February 1, 1960. The following is his obituary from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on February 2nd.
He performed with such famous clowns as Lou Jacobs and Emmett Kelly.
All three circus greats lived and practiced their routines in Sarasota.
Adler's costume took up a lot of space because he buttressed his posterior with a couple of basketballs hitched in place with a custom sling similar to a brassiere. He wore traditional whiteface clown makeup adding a big rhinestone on the tip of his nose.
Often the clown topped his garb with a big jello mold for a hat. Remember, the early days of television and product sponsorship? Adler had ties to Jell-O!
Piglets played integral roles in Adler's clowning. He named each one Amelia after his wife and as the piglets became full fledged pigs, he traded them in for a new piglet whom he promptly named Amelia.
The first clown to appear on television, Adler earned his title "The White House Clown" by performing for three presidents (Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Franklin D. Roosevelt). He and his wife were the first American husband and wife clown team. (SOURCE: Squidoo/Felix Adler)
(SOURCE: Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
Notice the handwork of the staff artist on the photo of Adler. Apparently the image was less than satisfactory for reproduction so the artist did a bit of doodling. Sort of surprised that the newspaper from the town where the circus was headquartered did not have a decent photo of the most important clown.
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