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July 28, 2022

30 Fascinating and Creepy Kodachrome Slides of Circus Clowns From the 1940s to 1950s

The Braathens, Sverre and Faye, were active and avid circus fans and collectors. Sverre’s passion for circus began in the early 1900s when he was a boy waiting for and later watching the Gollmar Brothers Circus unload, parade, and perform on the Great Plains in the small town of Mayville, North Dakota.

24-sheet billboard with a picture of Pat Valdo as a white-face clown.

Sverre mixed his love of music with his love for circuses and began collecting circus music material. Through the years, his collection grew to include route books, business materials, periodicals, massive amounts of correspondence between all levels of circus personnel – from band members to performers, riggers to roustabouts. Every season found the Braathens following circuses throughout the upper Midwest and it was while following circuses that his photographic talents emerged.

These images of clowns, who have always been an integral part of the circus, were captured in the saturated colors of Kodachrome slides and date from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. Take a look:

Albert White, a clown in The Good Old Times spec wardrobe.

A clown in a large green policeman wardrobe.

Paul Jerome, a clown with a pitcher and lamp.

A midget clown on an extremely hot and humid day.

Albert White, clown in spectacle wardrobe.

Felix Adler, a clown in spec wardrobe on a Holidays spec float.

Lou Jacobs, a German clown in spec wardrobe. He is a one man band.

Ernie Burch, a clown in a long red dress.

Emmett Kelly, one of the very best of all clowns with a large popcorn bag.

Little Joe in purple Candyland spec wardrobe.

John Tripp, clown with hats.

Albert White, a clown in Holidays spec wardrobe.

William "Bill" Hanlon, a clown from Sarasota, Florida.

A clown in aerial ballet webb sitter wardrobe.

William Hanlon, clown in spec wardrobe.

Ernest Burch in Indian clown wardrobe.

Arthur Burson, a clown in blue The Good Old Times spec wardrobe.

Louis Nagy, a clown in pink Circus Serenade wardrobe.

Albert White, a clown in spec wardrobe.

Felix Adler, a clown in spec wardrobe.

Harry Nelson, a stilt-walking clown.

A clown with a large crescent head piece in Holidays spec wardrobe.

Louis Nagy.

Otto Griebling from German and one of the best of all clowns.

Frank Cromwell.

John Tripp.

Gene Lewis, a clown in Holidays spec wardrobe.

Fred Hanlon.

Clown on stilts.

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