Jim Parker was a member of the Circus
Historical Society, Inc. His massive collection of circusiana
contains over 6,000 circus photos and 500 clown photos.
are a few collected facts to provide a brief history of the circus.
You may also click on a binder to jump to a specific year.
circa 2500 B.C.E.
Pygmy clown known to perform for the Pharaoh of Egypt’s court.
Court jesters noted performing in China.
Commedia del Arte began in Italy "comedy of professional
circa 1520 C.E.
Aztec court jesters found by Cortez during his conquest.
William Kemp and Robert Armin performed
as clowns for Shakespeare’s
Robert Armin wrote books on court
jesters including Phantasma, which subsequently became one of the
earliest histories of clowning.
The emergence of the whiteface clown
in modern settings. (other sources contradict that the whiteface
clown has been said to date as far back as Greek antiquity)
Astley is noted for creating the first circus in England.
Grimaldi introduced himself as the clown “Joey”...
and is noted as being the “first true circus clown.”
Joseph is known as “the father of modern clowning.”
L. Fox introduced Grimaldi's style of slapstick comedy to the
American stage. The Humpty Dumpty character
on Broadway is also attributed to him.
Butler is attributed as being the first female American clown
while touring with Nixon's Great American Circus.
Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Circus.
James McIntyre and Tom Heath are noted for creating the first tramp
Barnum joined with James
& Bailey Greatest Show On Earth" first toured America.
Rice’s clown, some claim as once being the highest paid
person in America, surfaced with patriotic wardrobe. Rice was known
for his political humor.
finally purchased their largest competitor -- Barnum & Bailey
Irvin Feld founded Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown
Bob Bell and Roy Brown, Bozo and Cooky respectively, performed on
Circus” and “The Bozo Show.”
Bob Bell, (Bozo
the Clown) received an Emmy award.
du Soleil formed.
Clown Hall of Fame (CHOF) formed.
Roy Brown, (Cooky the Cook) also received an Emmy award for his
40 million people have seen the Cirque
du Soleil since its inception.