Charlie The Juggling Clown
Creating Happy Memories that Last a Lifetime
History Trivia Quiz
These History Trivia questions were originally published in my Thought For The Week email newsletter.
After each question, click on the answer you believe is most accurate.
1. A frequently used gag in nineteenth century circuses was for the Ringmaster to demand that the clown let him leave first. The Ringmaster would exclaim, “I will never follow a fool.”
Falstaff , a character in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor
Mathurine , a woman who was a jester in the French court during the seventeenth century
2. At Michael Jackson's memorial service his brother Jermaine sang "Smile." That was reportedly Michael's favorite song and he performed it on the 1995 album titled HIStory -- Past, Present ,and Future.
Who composed "Smile?"
3. In a vaudeville routine a servant reporting to his absent master on the telephone, says, "There's no news - except that you don't have to bring home any dog food - well, because the dog died - he was trying to save the baby - from the fire - the one your wife started when she ran off with the chauffeur. Except for that there is no news."
4. The first
feature length comedy film produced in the
5. British clown Charlie Cairoli Junior is descended from theCairoli_family_of_famous_circus_clowns
6.The first known court jester appeared at a court in
7. The only person to serve as President for each of the three international clown organizations headquartered in the United States isRichard_Snowberg
8. The safety net used by performers in a flying trapeze act was invented by
9. Dutch comics were popular in American vaudeville and nineteenth century one-ring circuses. A Dutch comic portrayed somebody who had immigrated to America from
Switching sounds between words, for example, ordering a Chiss Sweese Sandwich, is a comedy technique named after a historical person known for making that kind of verbal mistake in real life. This comedy technique is called a
In Shakespeare's play Hamlet, the title character holds up a skull of a deceased court jester, and says, "a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy." According to tradition, this is Shakespeare's tribute to
12. The first history of clowning was written in
13. Who entered driving a small car, performed a comedy routine with six dogs that had also been in the car, and concluded his act by playing a musical instrument was
14. On the Magic Land of Alakazam television program, Rebo the Clown was performed by
15. Bozo at the Circus, published in 1946, was the first
16. Joseph Grimaldi, considered the father of modern clowning, was famous in the early nineteenth century for his performances in a special type of Christmas show known as a Pantomime. In the nineteenth century, Pantomime meant:
In 1940, Emmett Kelly, a famous tramp clown who performed silently, appeared in a Broadway musical revue. The name of the show was:
18. Several years ago I saw a stage show where Lori Eggers sang “Put On A Happy Face” while Geri “Lolli” Copper painted the face of an audience volunteer turning them into a Whiteface Clown. By the end of the song, Lolli had finished painting their face and slipped a clown smock and hat onto them. Other entertainers have incorporated that song into their performances. “Put On A Happy Face” was introduced in the Broadway production of
19. A two-person animal costume is a
19. A two-person animal costume is a
20. Using a similar sounding, but wrong word, is a comedy device called
21. The Mascot of the 1957 Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team was
22. The original voice of Goofy in the Walt Disney cartoons wasVance_Pinto_Colvig
23. The clown who was a guest at President Roosevelt's birthday party in honor for his work as a caring clown was
24. A year
after Kálmán’s operetta titled
Die Zirkusprinzessin opend in
25. The International Clown Hall of Fame Inductee whose father had clowned with the Hagenbeck & Wallace Circus was
26. Bumpsy Anthony is an International Clown Hall of Fame Inductee. His real name was:
27. The original Bozo the Clown was
28. The first movie released by M-G-M was a circus movie titled He Who Gets Slapped. The title character was a whiteface clown played by
29. In the 1600's clowns were called a Jack Pudding inHolland_and_Germany
30. In 1931 Richard “Red” Skelton began specializing as a walkathon clown. A walkathon clown performed at
1 A. Falstaff, sorry, but you are wrong. Falstaff is a comic character possibly originated by William Kemp, the first resident clown with Shakespeare’s acting troupe. However, this comedy bit was originally performed by Mathurine, a female court jester.
Mathurine was a
famous woman who performed as a court jester.
She was a major influence upon comedy in
2 A. Charlie Chaplin. You are correct. Chaplin composed the tune to "Smile" for his 1936 film "Modern Times". Although talking features had been well established by this time, Chaplin felt that the restrictions imposed by silent movies led to artistically superior films. There are some voices heard during the film "Modern Times", but Chaplin does not speak in the film. Near the end of the film he sings a nonsense song that he wrote just for this movie. This is the first time that his voice was heard in a film.
When "Modern Times" was re-released in the 1950's lyrics by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons were added to the song.
When Chaplin's movie "The Circus" was released on video a prologue was added to the movie featuring Chaplin singing "Smile".
Chaplin was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame in 2001.
2 B. Michael Jackson Sorry, but you are wrong. Jackson was a talented composer, but "Smile" is not one of his compositions. The tune for "Smile" was composed by Charlie Chaplin for Modern Times. Chaplin composed musical scores for his films.
The most famous version of "Smile" is the one recorded by Nat King Cole.
Petula Clark also recorded songs by Charlie Chaplin. In addition to "Smile" she recorded "This Is My Song" from Chaplin's film titled A Countess in New York. When she met Chaplin for the first time at his home in Switzerland, Clark was charmed that he offered her tea and poured it himself. The two became friends.
3 A. Nat Wills, The Happy Tramp No News is good news. You are correct. Nat Wills, who was billed as the Happy Tramp, was a headliner in vaudeville. No News was his most famous routine. It has been performed in modern times by Flip Wilson.
3 B. George Burns The news is not good for you. George Burns appeared extensively in vaudeville in a variety of acts, but he did not originate the No News routine. It was created by Nat Wills who was a major vaudeville star who is largely forgotten today because he died before making the transition to radio or movies.
To read more about Nat Wills go to Nat Wills
4.A. Charlie Chaplin is wrong. Chaplin played a supporting role in Tillie's Punctured Romance. He had been appearing in films for less than a year and was not well enough known to carry a feature film.
4. B. Marie Dressler is correct. When Mack Sennet decided to make a featured film in 1914 none of his film stars were established enough to carry a feature film. So he hired Marie Dressler to star in a film version of one of her Broadway play.
To read more about her go to Marie Dressler
Both answers are correct.
His father is the son of Jean Marie and Eugenie Cairoli.
Both of his paternal grandparents are descendents of circus families
and they clowned together in an eccentric musical act.
Charlie Cairoli Sr. began clowning in his parents’ act as a child.
His brother, Philip, was also an accomplished clown.
Charlie Sr. was eventually promoted to Third Auguste when his father,
a Whiteface Clown, worked with
Both answers are correct.
7A. Jack Anderson is the only person to serve as president of all three international clown organizations based in the United States. He was the 1982-1983 International Shrine Clown Association President. He was the 1984-1985 World Clown Association President. He was the 1992-1994 Clowns of America International President.
7B. Richard Snowberg's three terms as president have all been for the same organization, the World Clown Association. He was the WCA President for the following terms: 1987-1988, 2002-2003, and 2009-2010. He is the only person to have been president of that organization three times. One other person served two different terms as president, and all of the other 22 presidents all have served a single term to date. Aurora Krause was installed in April 2010 as the 25th person to serve as WCA President.
8A. Jules Leotard Incorrect. In 1859, Jules Leotard invented the swinging trapeze. He debuted the act in France. He also created the costume, which is named in his honor, worn while performing on the trapeze. He performed with a padded board below him for safety.
8B. Hanlon-Lees Correct. The three oldest Hanlon Brothers, George, William, and Alfred, were apprenticed to John Lees in 1848. Lees, a well known acrobat, developed a Risley Act with the brothers and they began a world tour. After John Lees died in 1855, the brothers teamed with their younger brothers Thomas, Edward, and Frederick, to form a new act that they named the Hanlon Lees in honor of their former mentor. When they heard of Leotard's new trapeze act they studied it and introduced their own version in America. In their version a member of the traveled from the theater's balcony rail to the floor of the stage by swinging from one trapeze to another. They developed the safety net that is now used by all flying trapeze acts.
In 1865, Thomas was incapacitated in a fall during a perch act. He was replaced by Henri Agoust, a juggler with experience in English pantomimes. Agoust convinced them to concentrate on acrobatic comedy. Eventually the Hanlon Lees became a very famous theatrical clown troupe. Their most famous production was titled A Trip To Switzerland.
9A. Holland Sorry, a Dutch comedian was played an immigrant to America who spoke Deutsch, which is the word for German in the language of that country. Dutch is an American mispronunciation of the German word. That is the same reason that descendants of German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th Centuries are known as Pennsylvania Dutch.
9B. Germany Correct. Dutch is an American mispronunciation of Deutsch, the word for German in the language of that country. Ethnic humor was popular in vaudeville theaters and in 19th century circuses. Besides Dutch (German) characters, Irish, Jewish, and Minstrel (African American) characters were very popular.
10A. Spoonerism True. The Reverend William A. Spooner (1844 - 1930) was a British pastor known for unintentionally transposing sounds between words. For example, he once told a groom, "It is kistomary to cuss the bride." What he meant to say was, "customary to kiss the bride."
He told a rector, "The vicar knows every crook and nanny in the parish." He meant "nook and cranny."
He invited the members of Parliament to honor Queen Victoria with "three cheers for the queer old dean." He meant "dear old queen."
10B. Tom Swifty False. A Tom Swifty is a formula joke named for an early twentieth century series of children’s books featuring a fictional character named Tom Swift. The books were filled with adjectives. The formula is to follow a quote with “he said” and an appropriate adjective. For example, “Nothing happened at the séance,” he said dispiritedly.
11A. Correct. Richard Tarlton (d. 1588) was Jester to Queen Elizabeth. He was also a comic actor and playwright who was a leader in English theater at the time Shakespeare's career began.
11B. False. In late 1599 or early 1600, Robert Armin (d. 1615) replaced William Kempe as the principal clown in Shakespeare's plays. Scholars believe that is about the time that Shakespeare wrote Hamlet. Although Armin was a share holder in the theater troupe, it is unlikely that Shakespeare would have paid tribute to him at the beginning of their association. It is known that Shakespeare tailored the clown characters in this plays to the talents of the clown currently appearing with the troupe. While Kempe was with the troupe, the clown characters were mainly country bumpkin types. After Armin joined the troupe, the clown characters tended to be jesters. Armin eventually wrote a history of court jesters. Robert Armin is an inductee to the International Clown Hall of Fame.
12A. False. In 1600, Robert Armin write a history of European court jesters. His book was titled a Nest of Ninnies. However, in Asia court jesters were common in Asia much earlier than in Europe so Sina Qian's history written around 100 B.C. is the first book on Court Jesters.
12B. True Sima Qian (145 – 90 B.C.E.) was a historian and literary man of the West Han TDynasty. In about 100 B.C.E, he wrote “Records of the Great Historian” which has 130 chapters. One of them was Huji Liezhuan “Anecdots of Comedians” which was about court jesters in China.
The first recorded court jester was You Shi who performed from around 676 to 652 B.C. His patron was the Duke of Xian.
13A.True. Chester "Bobo" Barnett would enter driving a miniature taxi cab. After he climbed out of the car, he opened the door again and the dogs that he used for a comedy act would exit. He also removed some luggage, including the props for his act. After his dogs had performed, Bobo would sit on the ring curb. All the lights in the arena would go out except for a spotlight focused upon him. He would conclude by playing "Peg of my Heart" on the trumpet.
Chester "Bobo" Barnett is the 2010 Inductee into the International Clown Hall of Fame.
13B. False. Lou Jacobs did drive a miniature car and work with trained dogs, but not in the same act. Lou also performed a one-man band routine as a separate act.
14A. False. Bob Keeshan was the original Clarabell Hornblower on the Howdy Doody television series. Then he created Corny the clown for his own local TV program in New York. Finally he starred in his own network TV series called Captain Kangaroo. In addition to playing the title character, Keeshan also played the Town Clown. Bob Keeshan is an inductee into the International Clown Hall of Fame.
14B. True. Bev Bergeron appeared as Rebo on the Magic Land of Alakazam. In addition to being part of the cast, Bev also created illusions that were performed on the TV program. One of his creations is currently used by many entertainers around the world. That is the Multiplying Wands.
15 A. Audio Book. True. When Alan Livingston was hired by Capital Records as a producer he developed an idea that he called Reading Records. These were phonograph recordings and book combinations intended to help young children learn to read. Children could read along in the book as they listened to the recording, or they could just listen to the story by itself. The first Reading Record was Bozo at the Circus with Pinto Colvig playing the title character. A blast on the Ringmaster’s whistle told the children when it was time to turn the page.
Pinto Colvig is an International Clown Hall of Fame inductee.
Pinto Colvig is an International Clown Hall of Fame inductee.
The television program was based on the Capital Records series of books
and phonograph recordings. Pinto Colvig performed as Bozo on the
Capital Records series of Reading Records and made personal appearances as Bozo
for a decade before Larry Harmon purchased the rights to the character in 1956
and turned it into a TV franchise.
Pinto Colvig performed as Bozo on the Capital Records series of Reading Records and made personal appearances as Bozo for a decade before Larry Harmon purchased the rights to the character in 1956 and turned it into a TV franchise.
16 A. False. Silent Acting.
While we currently think of Pantomime as being silent acting, that is a new
definition of the word.
16 A. False. Silent Acting. While we currently think of Pantomime as being silent acting, that is a new definition of the word.
16B. True. Performing
More Than One Character. There was a lot of interest in classical
(Greek and Roman) theater during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth
centuries. Roman Pantomime was a solo performance where an actor donned
masks while changing his posture and voice to play all of the characters in a
story. In Latin "Panto" means all and "Mime" means imitate so Pantomime is
to imitate everyone.
16B. True. Performing More Than One Character. There was a lot of interest in classical (Greek and Roman) theater during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Roman Pantomime was a solo performance where an actor donned masks while changing his posture and voice to play all of the characters in a story. In Latin "Panto" means all and "Mime" means imitate so Pantomime is to imitate everyone.
In the original Christmas Pantomime in England, the main actors wore large
masks and costumes to play characters from a fairy tale or classic myth.
Then in a transformation scene they would drop the masks and top layer of their
costume down a trap door revealing that their appearances as Harlequin, Clown,
Pantaloon, and Columbine. The rest of the show would be an extended
slapstick chase scene involving those four characters.
In the original Christmas Pantomime in England, the main actors wore large masks and costumes to play characters from a fairy tale or classic myth. Then in a transformation scene they would drop the masks and top layer of their costume down a trap door revealing that their appearances as Harlequin, Clown, Pantaloon, and Columbine. The rest of the show would be an extended slapstick chase scene involving those four characters.
Since the star entertainers played two characters during the show, the
Latin term was adopted for the performance.
Since the star entertainers played two characters during the show, the Latin term was adopted for the performance.
17 A.True. Keep Off The Grass opened on Broadway on
17 B. False. The Fat Man was the title of Emmett Kelly's first movie appearance. The 1950 movie was based upon a popular radio detective drama. The name of the title character, played by J. Scott Smart in both the radio and movie versions, was inspired as a contrast to Dashiel Hammet's famous Thin Man detective character. Emmett Kelly was cast as the serial murderer who used the money he stole to purchase a circus where he hid as a clown. Not wanting his Weary Willy tramp character to be associated with a crime, Emmett performed as a whiteface clown in the movie.
18 A. False. The Happiest Fellow does have an interesting place in comedy history. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz invested in the Broadway production as producers. I don’t know if their participation was strictly financial or if they played a creative role as well. To promote the Broadway Show they filmed an episode of their I Love Lucy TV program featuring Lucy, Ricky, Ethel, and Fred trying to attend a performance of The Happiest Fellow. “Standing on the Corner,” the hit song from the Broadway show, is heard during the TV program.
18 B. True. In Bye, Bye, Birdie , Dick Van Dyke, in his first Broadway role, played Albert, who sings “Put On A Happy Face” to Rose, his girlfriend. Van Dyke reprised his role and sang the song again in the film version of the Broadway show. He received a special Tony Award for being a promising new star. (Carole Burnett and Julie Andrews also received that award during the same year.) Carl Reiner cast Van Dyke in his television situation comedy after seeing a performance of Bye, Bye, Birdie on Broadway.
19 A. True. Jargo is the American term for a two-person animal costume. During the twentieth century Jargo giraffe routines were performed by many circus clowns. Horses, elephants, and bulls were also popular Jargo routines. Mark Anthony, an inductee into the International Clown Hall of Fame, created a Jargo elephant that was the final surprise for a clown car routine performed on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
I don't know the origin of the term Jargo. In Europe, these costumes are sometimes called a Pantomime animal because they were used in the Christmas Pantomimes during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
19 B. False. A Basket Animal costume is one creating the appearance that you are riding an animal. Dummy legs straddle the animals bodies while the performer's real legs extend down through the body to propel the costume. Usually a drape representing an animal blanket hides the performer's real legs. With two legged creatures, like birds, the performer's legs are inside the animal's legs. Mark Anthony, an inductee into the International Clown Hall of Fame, was known for creating basket animals out of foam rubber.
These costumes are known as a basket animal because originally the animals body and head were woven out of wicker like a basket. That material provided a strong yet light weight material for the structure.
20 A. False. Paronomasia is a word with two incongruous meanings. For example, scale is a device for weighing an object and it is also the overlapping plate like formations covering the surface of a fish. Paronomasia are used in comedy to write jokes like this: Why do fish have scales? So they can weigh anchors.
20 B. True. Malaprop is a similar sounding but wrong word. The name comes from the character Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Sheridan's 1775 play titled The Rivals. For example, Mrs. Malaprop announced, "He is the very pineapple of politeness." (She meant "very pinnacle of politeness."
It is a very popular device that has been used by comedians including Gracie Allen, Jane Ace, Marie Wilson, and Norm Crosby. It is often used by comic strip artists like Bil Keene who portray child characters.
21 A. True. Emmett Kelly was the mascot for the 1957 Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team. The team's nickname was Dem Bums and Kelly's tramp character was similar in appearance to the cartoon logo that had been featured on souvenirs. He also performed in the minor league parks of the Dodger farm teams. When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, Kelly did not go with them because he felt their new ball park was too large for his intimate style of performance.
21 B. False. Max Patkin, known as the Clown Prince of Baseball, got his start with the Cleveland Indians as a first base coach who performed comedy routines. Beginning in 1949 he worked as a freelance entertainer appearing as a guest star during baseball games.
22 A. True. Vance Pinto Colvig was the original voice for Goofy. Pinto, a clown who had formerly performed in vaudeville and circuses, was a gag writer and voice artist at the Walt Disney Studios. In addition to performing the voice for Goofy, Pinto acted out some of Goofy's scenes which were filmed and used as reference material guiding the animators in making Goofy move. Pinto provided the voices for several other Disney animated characters.
After he left the Disney studios, Pinto was hired as a voice artist by Capital Records. He was the original Bozo the Clown performing the voice for Read Along records and making live personal appearances.
Pinto Colvig is an International Clown Hall of Fame inductee.
22 B. False. Walt Disney was the original voice for Mickey Mouse. He demonstrated the vocal qualities he wanted for the character, and it was decided that nobody else could do it as well. Walt Disney began his career as an animator, but his true talents were in story telling and producing. Although he was the voice of Mickey Mouse he had trouble drawing him.
23. A. False. Fred "Mombo" Petrick was a caring clown. However, he was a clown appearing on a daily local television program who would visit children after each broadcast.
To read more about him go to Fred Mombo Petrick
23. B. True. Felix Adler was known for visiting children in hospitals when he toured with the circus. The other two circus clowns who were honored at President Roosevelt's Birthday Party were Jack LeClaire and Frankie Saluto. This celebration was significant because it was also a charitable event that raised the initial funds to begin the March of Dimes organization fighting polio. (President Roosevelt was a polio victim.)
To read more about Felix go to Felix Adler
24. A. True. Poodles Hanneford performed his equestrian clown routine in the first act when The Circus Princess opened on April 25, 1927. He also played the First Cossack in the second act and the Bus Boy in the third act.
24. B. False.
Kelly was featured in a 1971 production of Smetana’s opera titled the “Bartered
Bride” produced by the Opera Company of
25. A. False
TrueRed Skelton Red’s father was a clown with the Hagenbeck & Wallace Circus. While the published dates of his father’s death vary it was within a few months of Red’s birth in 1913 so he never saw his father perform. However, in 1928, Red spent a season touring as a clown with the Hagenbeck & Wallace Circus.
26. A. True. George Hulme was nicknamed Bumpsy when he began in the circus business as part of an acrobatic act. The name was in recognition of his ability to take hard falls. One of his trademarks as a clown was pulling a long knotted rope that would get snagged on objects motivating him taking a pratfall. He clowned for 62 years on a variety of shows. He was known for his unique make up design with the lines on his face extending down his neck to his chest.
26. B.False Mark Anthony's real last name was Galkowski. I once heard Mark say that when he was Confirmed in the Catholic Church he was given the name Anthony as a Confirmation name. (It is my understanding that in the Catholic Church upon Confirmation each person is given the name of a saint as their Confirmation name.) For his stage name he went by Mark Anthony. I have seen photos of him with the name Tony on his hat so he apparently used that some as a clown name.
Due to the fact that Mark Anthony and Bumpsy Anthony used the same last name as a stage name some people have mistakenly assumed they were related. However, their actual last names reveals this is false. Although not related, the two men were friends and sometimes toured with the same show.
27. A. True
Pinto Colvig was a voice artist and comedy
writer. He was a former circus clown. He performed the voice of
Bozo and many other characters on a Read Along recording titled "Bozo at the
Circus". It's world wide popularity resulted in a series of other Bozo
record/ book combinations. Colvig wrote some of the songs that
appeared on the later recordings. Colvig performed as Bozo in live
personal appearances for a decade, and was the star of the first television
Pinto Colvig was a voice artist and comedy writer. He was a former circus clown. He performed the voice of Bozo and many other characters on a Read Along recording titled "Bozo at the Circus". It's world wide popularity resulted in a series of other Bozo record/ book combinations. Colvig wrote some of the songs that appeared on the later recordings. Colvig performed as Bozo in live personal appearances for a decade, and was the star of the first television Bozo program.
27. B.False Larry Harmon was one of many actors hired to impersonate Pinto Colvig when the Bozo character became so popular Colvig could not keep up with the personal appearance requests. When Capital Records decided to end production of the Bozo records, Harmon purchased the rights to the character and used it as the basis for a franchise of local television programs. The first of Harmon's Bozo TV productions aired in Los Angeles with Pinto Colvig Jr. playing the title character.
28. A. False
did appear in many M-G-M films starting in 1941.
His birthday is
28. B.True Lon Chaney was the star of the 1924 M-G-M silent film titled He Who Gets Slapped. His parents were both deaf so he learned to communicate with them silently, an ability he used in silent movies
29. A. True. Jack Pudding was a type of clown character
common in England during the 1600's. In Holland
and Germany clowns were known as Pickle Herring during this period.
29. A. True. Jack Pudding was a type of clown character common in England during the 1600's. In Holland and Germany clowns were known as Pickle Herring during this period.
29. B. False. Clowns were known by the name of a different type
of food in Holland and Germany.
There they were known as a Pickle Herring.
29. B. False. Clowns were known by the name of a different type of food in Holland and Germany. There they were known as a Pickle Herring.
30. A.False. Clowns who perform in Circuses on the hippodrome track between other acts while riggers reset props in the rings are known as walkaround clowns.
30.BTrue. Dance marathons during the night. What we currently call a dance marathon was originally known as a walkathon. Red worked from to (ten hours) everyday for the duration of the contest which could last weeks. His first wife, Edna, wore out five male partners to win a walkathon that lasted two-and-a-half months. Their first date came after she had a chance to sleep at the conclusion of the contest.
You can learn more about clown history in the following publications by Bruce Johnson:
Clowning Through The Twentieth Century
The Clown In Times (Bound Editions)
The History of American Clowning
For more clown history quizzes, click on one of the links below.