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Patrick, Warren A. (ed.) / Show world
(July 10, 1909)

Who is the best clown in circusdom?,   pp. 17-18

Page 17

JulY   10,    lj1j9
There are clowns and clowns, all
sorts and kinds of 'em, whole families
of 'em and fools galore. Clowns who
are real artists, like poets, are born
with it in 'em. The clown who cop-
ies from his fellows, who imitates and
purloins the ideas of others, seldom
has much vogue with the-amusement
seeking public, while the real clown
gains fame and riches. The spurious
clown steals and borrows fun while
the real clown works his gray matter
and is never content with the achieve-
ments of his career.
There are clowns in all lines of
endeavor, but the limits of the discus-
sion of which this article is a part,
confines the talk to clowns "in circus-
dom" and the query-"Who is the
best clown in circusdom"-is difficult
to answer.
There are "good" clowns and "bet-
ter" clowns, but who is best of all?
"Best" means highest, most advanced,
the most accurate, most complete,
and when the word is brought into
circusdon the scope iwidens until it
means the most profitable one to the
There are varieties of clowns as
the re aevarietiesofcorn and beans.
I think the three top-notch varieties
of this day are:
The producing clown.
The rube clown.
The specialist.
If it wvere possible to determine
who is the best producing clowvn, the
query of the circus world would be
answered. The producing clown can
do rube work and play the tricks of
a specialist. In other words, he is
an all-round article of fun and com-
edy. On the other hand, the rube
andthe specialist ay excel the pro-
ducer in their respective roles by a
point or two, but in  the position of
producing clown, they would be en-
tirely out of place.
In my opinion "Spader" Johnson is
the BEST clown now before the pub-
lic. Place hin in the costume of any
other clown and he will make good
in that clown's stunt. You will find
"Spader" at home anywhere in clown-
dom. Are not many of the ideas in
vogue in clowning the output of his
brain and originality?  Picture him
for a moment in his laughable brain-
storm automobile! Picture him a lit-
tle later in his barber shop creation!
Then again, picture him leading the
clown band or perched high in air at
the pinnacle of the springing board
of the leaps, just after Chad Wertz
has turned a double over elephants,
camels and horses! Hear "Spader,"
when the announcer finishes with,
"the champion soiersaulter of all the
world," cry out: "And the gentleman
speaks the truth."  Others might say
the words, but would utterly fail to
draw  the deafening  applause   that
"Spader" Johnson does with the sim-
ple little sentence.  And then  see
"Spader" dart down    the springing
oard, leap into the air as if lie was
about to turn a triple, but instead
comes down on the first elephant on
his finger ends and quicker than it
takes to write it, actually walks over
How a Clown's Value is Being
Public  ipproval  ............. 25
Number of offerings.........25
O riginality  ..................20
Personality  .................10
Doubling in concert........ 5
Doubling  in  circus...........15
the backs of the tuskers, camels and
horses on his fingers, turning a som-
ersault on to the pad from  the last
horse! The applause that follows
this is deafening! Who of the clowns
before the American public, or any
other public, can duplicate this John-
son originality?
If I was to decide who was the
most popular clown in the past, I
would say Dan Rice, and he gained
his faiie on the one saying: "My
wife loves her Rice"; in the now,
In the Opinion of "Doc." Waddell The Honor
Should Go To "Spader" Johnson The Show
World's Choice to be Announced Soon
"Slivers" Oakley has the call on the
popular side anl he won his position
with his side-splitting ball game. His
name swells the "box office" receipts.
Of rube clowns, Bert Davis (Hiram
Birdseed) has all beat and his wife,
Aunt Lucinda, is in a class by herself.
In my opinion there never will be
another woman clown in our day to
equal Mrs. Davis.
There are many other good clowns.
I don't believe any clown caii make
up funnier than Billy Milligan-that
mite of humanity from Akron, Ohio.
And Jack Stallings, with his butterfly
being considered in the final stages
of the discussion.
There is another Johnson, whose
staiidingin this connection is worthy
of attention. He is Ab Johnson, the
principal clown of the Mighty Haag
show. He clowns, does a burlesque
riding act with a imule, rides a four-
horse act, is uiderstander in a two-
horse carrying act, rides Roman
standing and chariot races and works
in the concert. According to the
scale of points, again printed in this
issue, he will certainly figure up with
the best ones.
1.1)5C' - WADDELL
chase, is extremely ludicrous and
The BEST clown in circusdom, in
my judgment, is the one who makes
good in an artistic way, who is the
most finished, has the most advanced
style, doing his own original numbers
but who can make good as the clowns
did in days gone by.
If I considered Mr. and Mrs. Bert
Davis as clowns, I would be tempted
to bestow the honor on them, but
I do not and therefore I am inclined
to give the honor to "Spader" John-
son. He has all that other clowns
mentioned possess and more. Figure
up his points and every one must
agree with me that lie is best entitled
to the honor.-"DOC" WADDELL.
It is strange that "Spader" Johnson
was not mentioned earlier in these
articles. Possibly it was because he
did not figure in circusdom until the
opening of the Mackay circus. At
any event "Doc" Waddell's judgment
in this matter carries too rnuch
weight to pass tip any of his sugges-
tions. The circus editor, on receipt
of the Waddell coiimmunication, began
figures on "Spader's" work and will
soon be able to compare his standing
with that of other clowns who are
The work of figuring up the stand-
ing of the various clowns is progress-
ing rapidly and while space will not
permit the printing of all that is be-
ing considered in reaching a deci-
sion, the circus world may rest as-
sured that no pains are being spared
to secure data in regard to every
clown, and while one particular fun-
maker may presume that no interest
Barnum & Bailey-Horace
Ringling Brothers-Al Miaco
or George Hartzell.
Hagenback-Wallace - James
II. Rutherford or Art Borell.a.
Buffalo Bill-Pawnee Bill-Mr.
and Mrs. Bert Davis.
Sells-Floto-Lon Moore.
Mackay European Circus-
"Spader" Johnson.
Alighty Haag Show-Ab John-
is taken in this work, it may be said
that there are men constantly watch-
ing him and reporting on his work.
It is out of question for the circus
editor to see the work of every indi-
vidual clown. When a show is vis-
ited it is impossible to watch them
all.  Faithful friends are laboring,
however, and from the dozens of re-
ports on each clown, it is not so dif-
1887-1895-Lemon Brothers.
1896-J. H. La Pearl show.
1897-Forepaugh-Sells circus.
1898-J. H. La Pearl's show.
1899-Ringling Brothers' cir-
1900-1903-John    Robinson's
10 Big.
1904-The    Great   Wallace
1905-Barnum & Bailey's cir-
1906 -  Greater  Hagenbeck
1907-1908-John Robinson 10
1909-Mighty Haag show.
Two winter seasons with
Rhoda Royal and engaged for
the coming winter season.
1iltsa matterto siftout his stand-
gas might beimagined.
['he best clowns with two or three
ows are announced on this page
is week. From now on no other
wn with those shows will be con-
lered. It will be noticed that the
wst" clown with the Hagenbeck-
allace show lies between James H.
RLlutherford and Art Borella.  The
work of these two clowns makes a
decision very difficult. It is the same
with Al Miaco and George Hartzell
f Ringling Brothers.
Within a fewv weeks at the latest
the Vbestclown in circusdom"willbe
:announced. In the meantime friends
*f those being considered should be
ccrtain that everything in favor of
!:icir choice has been said-every
uint in his favor brought out.
Prof. Lorretta "At Home."
CORRY, Pa., July 7.-The Maxwell
carnival appeared this week.   The
feature show of the aggregation was
Prof. Otis Loretta and his trained
horse, "Colonel Fred." This is Prof.
Loretta's home and everyone turned
out and gave him a big reception.
The horse was the feature of Ham-
inerstein's roof last summer and does
some tricks that are truly wonderful.
Colonel Fred is claimed to be the
best trained horse in the world and
his owner is willing to back up the
assertion for any amount. The horse
spells, counts, plays musical instru-
ments and, in fact, does everything
but talk, and works so speedily as to
attract attention to this alone.-Ber-
ERIE, Pa., July 6.-Ringling Broth-
ers appeared here July 3 and a con-
servative estimate places the attend-
ance for the two performances at
22,000. There never was such a jam
here before and the performance gave
the best of satisfaction. The day was
an ideal one, not too warm, and
despite tle fact that another circus
and a wild west had given exhibi-
tions, the attendance breaks all rec-
The Ringling Brothers show was here
June 28.   It came from   Stamford,
Conn., making the 196-mile run in fair
time, as the show got to Gloversville
at three o'clock in the afternoon. The
circus had big business here.-LOCK-
Reports from the Howard Damon
show indicate that the business is
not very good. Every source of in-
formation bears out the statement
that the show is not meeting with
wonderful success.
:R foi
-  She

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