Clown for a New Day

Clown for a New Day
Dagwood might make it in today's emasculated circus

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lazy Saturday Samples: In Mark Twain's Time Before Clowns Went Penal ... the Mister Mistin Mystery ... Celebs Shun Big Tops, NO? ...



 Cry, clown, cry: You are now a certified creep, appearing in, but not limited to, horror flicks, shady flea markets, and carny dark rides.

Yes, they once were adored, those now edgy clowns who drive some people into panic mode:  I've been reading Mark Twain's wonderful book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and in it, there is this, starting with Tom, talking to Becky:

"I've been to the circus three or four times---lots of times.  Church ain't shucks to a circus.  There's things going on at a circus all the time.  I'm going to be a clown in the circus when I grow up."

"Oh, are you!  That will be nice.  They're so lovely, all spotted up."

Remember the here-today, gone tomorrow forever Mister Mister?  Boy wonder on the xylophone, whom John Ringling North had over hamming it up in the center ring for but one season?   He might have charmed, that's what I hear on tapes of the show, but after a tour, he was out the door.   Advance forward by decades, and here is Bob Good,  son of the late photographer Robert D. Good (many of whose photo packages I bought as a kid fan), asking me, of all people, if it might be true that Mister Mistin, in a career makeover, changed his name to Ralph Head?   Anybody out there hip to this thread?  Makes no sense to me, but it's a fun question to pose.... "In the late 60's," writes Bob, Jr, "I was watching Hollywood Palace in a bar and a guy does Mistin's act. His name was Ralph Head." ... Even though Good was told by Tim Tegge that Head was NOT Mistin, Good continues to fancy the notion otherwise. All of which blurs by me like a hazy hollow rumor.  "Anyway, it is just fun to try to get to the bottom of this."  Are you feeling vaguely connected to a wisp of a wish?  Sorry, Bob, I did my best.

BUT ... hold your giggles.  Upon further investigation into Good's misty Mistin missive, there is this intriguing connection:  "Mistin in the 53 route book had a name with the initials RH.  Roland dHaaveloose.  What a coincidence."  Yes!  I Guess?  So, let me check my route book for primal verify:  Indeed, among three names under "Mistin Troupe," two of them end in d'Haaveloose: Gustave and Roland."  And why am I doing this?  Pardon my laugh, I half don't know why!   Let's go somewhere else ...

The late Princess Margaret, escorted by Martin Lacey into Gerry Cottle's Circus, circa 1980s


How young they once were: Rod Stewart and Elton John paying a visit to Billy Smart, Jr and his wife Hannalore. 

More wondering why:   Why don't big celebs go to circuses anymore?   Author Douglas McPherson, from across the Big Pond, sharing with me the above photos of British celeb being seen at circuses, many seasons ago, or around circus folk.  There's Margaret, sister of the Queen Who Never Dies, and there, in the other image, a very young Rod and Elton.   (Oh, how I cry for poor Charles, waiting to take his expected place, fearing HE may go before SHE.).   Remember when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey opened at the Garden, and a parade of A-list movie stars joined the show to raise money for charity?  ...  I'm thinking, what a lovely break for the circus were Prince William, Kate and little Prince George (a perkly little fellow) to make a day of it under canvas.  The whole world would be watching! Or might it be that the Royals have "issues" with big tops today? ... All we need is for Prince George to get all wide-eyed around a sawdust ring, and all bets are off ...


John Ringling North and Joseph Cotton, opening night at the Garden, 1954.

END RINGERS:  Nice guy Nik Wallenda, far as I know, showing up to greet and meet students at Illinois State University's Gammi Phi Circus, featured speaker For American Red Cross Heartland Evening of the Stars.  Translated  A fund raiser.  All those academic words, I should get paid per word, if I were paid at all.   Nik's message:  "Never give up on your dreams." ... He helped hoist Harris Carr, 11, onto the wire ... Circus World's new ringmaster-in-chief Scott O'Dlonnell telling the Wisconsin State Journal, last year they ended up in the black.  Most impressive move, he's designing "new strategic marketing partnerships with other attractions in the Dells."  Translated: a tie-in.  BTW,  I once suggest to the Maureen Brunsdale, who heads up the Special Collections section of the Milner Liibrary at ISU --- why not elevate your old-world mandatory photo credit lines ("used with permission of this and that, under arrangement with, division of... ")?  Why not simply "courtesy of the Milner."  Doesn't that sound more suave, chic, cool?  The Milner.  As cool almost as Bettmann Archives.  Even Tegge Circus Archives.  Tim started out parading his full name, and wisely whittled down to something more smart, sharp, with a lean and a pulse.

Returning to the Mistin matter, Bob, this just hit my brain -- in the bar that night, what were you drinking?

2 comments:

Douglas McPherson said...

I wonder if any circus boss has actually thought of INVITING Prince William and Kate?

Showbiz David said...

I have a feeling they might be surprisingly pleased if they did.