Categories
Photography Rose's Royal Midget Troupe Vaudeville Vaudevisuals Bookshelf Vaudevisuals Press

“Rose’s Royal Midgets and Other Little People of Vaudeville”. A Review by Dominique Jando.

In the first half of the twentieth century, performing troupes of Little People ⏤ then popularly known as Midgets ⏤ were undeniably, in Europe or in the United States, the main drawing cards of any variety or circus production that featured them. After their appearance in M-G-M’s “The Wizard of Oz,” the Munchkins’ everlasting fame has been a testimony to their timeless appeal. “Midgets” were not to be confused with Little People victim of achondroplasia: unlike the latter, they were perfectly proportioned, looking like amazingly gifted children who had just fled Neverland. Endearing to their audiences, they were also genuinely talented performers, and if only for that reason, their place in show business history is indeed worthy of attention.

“Rose’s Royal Midgets and Other Little People of Vaudeville,” published by Vaudevisuals Press, justly gives them the long-overdue attention they deserve as performing artists: the very short bibliography appearing at the end of the book sadly shows how little has been written about them, unless they appeared under the generic denomination of “freaks” in a few books related to carnival and circus sideshows — an even more derogatory term than “Midgets,” especially for the true performers they often were.

Trav S.D., American vaudeville’s foremost historian and keeper of the flame (whose book “No Applause, Just Throw the Money” is a must for anyone curious about vaudeville), tells us in a well-researched essay the history of Ike Rose and his Royal Midgets company, which forms the backbone of the book and benefits from precious documents in the personal collection of Karen McCarty — whose grandmother, Gladys Farkas, was a member of Rose’s company. Besides rare photographs, reproductions of contracts, advertising booklets, and programs give us a wonderful insight into the life of the troupes of that era.

In another well-illustrated essay, Trav introduces us to other famous Little People, from P.T. Barnum’s Tom Thumb (Charles Stratton) to the Doll Family (born Schneider) and many lesser-known individuals and troupes, with biographical notices that finally take them out of the shadows. The book opens with an essay by James Taylor (author of “Shocked and Amazed! On & Off the Midway”) on performing Little People’s reaction to the much too frequent use of the derogatory terminology that usually describes them, whether or not in a professional context. It ends with a gallery of Charles Eisenmann’s photographic portraits of Little People (from the Syracuse University Library’s Ronald G. Becker Collection) dating back to the 1880s.

Edited and published by Jim Moore, photographer to the circus stars, “Rose’s Royal Midgets and Other Little People of Vaudeville” is a wonderful tribute to bona-fide artists who, notwithstanding the special appeal of their physical peculiarity, were by and large talented actors, singers, dancers, comedians, and circus performers who certainly deserved more than a quick footnote in the history of show business.

Dominique Jando ~ Circopedia

Ike Rose and his troupe visiting the White House in 1926.
A review of Rose's Royal Midgets and Other Little People of Vaudeville by Circopedia's founder/director Dominique Jando.
Dudley Foster photographed by Charles Eisenmann.
From the Charles Eisenmann section of Rose’s Royal Midgets and Other Little People of Vaudeville.
Courtesy of the Ronald G. Becker Collection of Charles Eisenmann Photographs

To purchase the book click here!

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Categories
Clown Comedy Photography Video

Healthy Humor Conference 2019

Last week I was invited to the ‘Healthy Humor Conference 2019′ to photograph the 40+ clowns that reside in their employment.  HH is an arts organization whose professional performers create moments of joy, wonder, laughter and comfort for hospitalized children and all others who are most in need. As it turns out most of these clowns are folks I have photographed outside the hospital environment. They have careers in the arts and make appearances in cabaret, theater, circus, variety shows and other fun venues.

I was hired by Healthy Humor to photograph this amazing conference and shot photographs of all these clowns for their ‘baseball’ card type of handouts. They print up these funny cards as souvenirs to leave with the children after their visits.

Healthy Humor’s Artistic Director Karen McCarty

During this fun packed week, workshops are given by professional movement theater teachers (Dody DiSantoPedro Fabião and Stephen J. Ringold)  and the group spends hours trading skills including magic, juggling, bubble creating, and other related professional expertise.

Stephen J. Ringold conducting his workshop.

Club passing skill exchange with Andy, Liz, Peter and Watson

One of the highlights of the week’s activities was the ‘Variety Show’ where all of the performers could show their peers what they do outside the hospital. Here is a video of Dikki Ellis and Andy Sapora performing the Beatles song “When I’m 64”. Great fun!

For more information on Healthy Humor Inc. you can visit their website or Facebook page!

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Categories
Big Apple Circus Circus Clown Comedy Film Photography

The Conference of Humanicy – The Human Side of Diplomacy – UN Building

I attended the Pre-Conference of Humanicy at the UN at was quite impressed with what was organized and presented.

Friendship Ambassadors Foundation had organized an evening of talks and a film screening to present an idea of what the upcoming conference (December 2014) would encompass.

PS@UN

The Opening/Welcome was given by FAF Executive Director Patrick Sciarratta. His topic was:

“The Mission of FAF in the development of a cultural approach to diplomacy.”

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2014.04.05__Sony_067Following Patrick was Ambassador Angelo Antonio Toriello (Permanent Rep of Sao Tome.). His talk was:

“The Heightened consciousness of Diplomacy”.

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Moderator FAF Artistic Director Yin-Chu Jou introduced the Romanian Representative Ambassador Simona Mirela Miculescu.

FAF Artisitic Director Yin-Chu JouFAF Artistic Director Yin-Chu Jou 

Simona Mirela Miculescu & Yin-Chu JouRomanian Permanent Representative Ambassador Simona Mirela Miculescu and FAF Moderator Yin-Chu Jou.

The Romanian Representative Ambassador Simona Mirela Miculescu spearheaded the “Ambassadors Sing For Peace” CD released in Sept 2013.

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2014.04.05__Sony_091Big Apple Circus Board Member Jimmy Zankel and BAC Creative Director of Community Programs Karen McCarty.

2014.04.05__Sony_095Three of the BAC Clown Care Unit clowns (Watson Kawecki-nearest) broke up the house with some wonderful antics.

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2014.04.05__Sony_113Karen McCarty (right) helps the clown doctors (left to right-Kim Winslow, Watson Kawecki, Deborah Kaufman) do a ‘nose transplant’ to a volunteer audience member.

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Some of the other scheduled events was an interview between NGO DPI Youth Rep Katrina Martinez and Global Poverty Project Director Justine Lucas.

The film show was Dancing in Jaffa which featured a talk after the film with producer Diane Nabatoff and film star Pierre Dulaine.

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Categories
Circus Clown Performing Arts Photography

Big Apple Circus ‘CLOWN CARE’ 25th Anniversary

On Monday at 11am a Celebration was held at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital on Broadway and 165th St.

Serving that facility for 25 years, The Big Apple Circus Clown Care staff sang, blew bubbles, played music  and entertained the children and adults.

In 1986, Big Apple Circus co-founder and Creative Director Michael Christensen founded this professional hospital clowning program.

In the beginning it was only three clowns. Michael Christensen (Mr. Stubbs), Barry Lubin (Grandma) and Jeff Gordon (Gordoon)

Today the Big Apple Circus’s Clown Care is at 18 leading pediatric hospitals nationwide with over 80 talented professional clowns.

It also has inspired many other groups world-wide to develop in Germany, France, Mexico etc.

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The ceremony began with remarks by Big Apple Circus Chairman Chris Wearing.

Chris Wearing

Dr. Robert Seigle, pediatric nephrologist spoke about his relationship with the Clown Care group from the beginning.

Dr. Robert Seigle

The other speaker was nine time Emmy  award winning broadcast journalist Jane Hanson, host of NBC’s LX NEW YORK.

NBC’s Jane Hanson (w/clown nose)

They had celebratory cup cakes donated by Magnolia Bakery.

Philip Thurston, Press Contact for the Big Apple Circus organized this delightfully heartfelt event.

Philip Thurston and Clown Dikki Ellis.

The event was very emotional. Michael spoke about the role of the clown in the hospital environment. The Big Apple Circus Clown Care has been working in hospitals for 25 years and has brought joy and laughter to many children.

Mr. Stubbs (Michael Christensen) speaks to the hospital patients and press.

Directing part of his talk to the clown members of the audience he spoke of the importance of their work.

The Clowns gathered together at the end of the celebration and collectively chanted;

“See you down the road”

The tuba and banjos began playing as they marched out of the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and into the street.

They gathered their belongings, suitcases and instruments and paraded out the front door and took the subway to another hospital in Harlem.

Here are some photographs from the day.

Karen McCarty

Deborah Kaufman

David Engel

Audrey Crabtree and Andy Sapora

Dikki Ellis and Deborah Kaufman

Getting ready to Parade out the door.

The Big Apple Circus Clown Care CLOWNS!

(Not listed in order)

(Michael Christensen, John Grimaldi, Erin Schmahl, Karen McCarty, Josh Matthews, Julie Pasqual, Will Shaw, Audrey Crabtree, Watson Kawecki, Laine Barton, Leo Dessilets, Phyllis Capello, Ron Hoffman, Deborah Kaufman, Sarah Petersiel, David Engel, Lauren Sharpe, John Leo, Dikki Ellis, Hilary Chaplain, Maria Para.)

(L to R)Audrey Crabtree, Michael Christensen, Deborah Kaufman and Hilary Chaplain

The Big Apple Circus Clown Care ensemble (in hospital coats) travel to the next hospital in Harlem.

Mr. Stubbs (Michael Christensen) entering the subway at 165th Street station with props and gear!

Juggler Will Shaw with Big Apple Circus Clown Care 25th Anniversary Banner getting on the elevator with peers.

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Help the New York  Big Apple Circus Clown Care community outreach program continue by donating here!

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Categories
Clown Music NY Clown Theatre Festival 2010 Performing Arts Photography Variety Arts

Shorty and Fatty’s Half Century Extravaganza – NY Clown Theatre Festival Show

The show was a collection of performers that HAD to be at least 50 years old…IF not older!

The hostesses of the show were Karen McCarty and Deborah Kaufman.

Of course the IDEA for this foolish evenings festivities came from the mind of Jan Greenfield. (over 50 too!)

I had a chance to get to the theatre early and take a portrait of the hostesses.

Deborah Kaufman and Karen McCarty Host the Cabaret

They get the show on the road by dancing a number together to rev up the audience spirits.

Are you ready for the show to begin?

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First to start the show is Hilary Chaplain with her delightfully demented piece  THE DIVA.

Uh Oh…What show must go on?

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GORK (Michael Getlan)  the stage hand helps clean up the roses.

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The next act to appear in the cabaret comes from the wilds of Finland.

LILI’s HAIR AND BEAUTY PARLOR

Lily Sukula-Lindblom and audience member Bryce Kasson.

Innocent audience member gets her ‘makeover’ and responds!

The Final Picture for Hair and Beauty Parlor

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The ‘oldest mime in the world’ is Richmond Shepard.  He was there and performed a few comic mime pieces.

Comical stories with nice funny mimetic touches.

Richmond was an inspiration for many mime performers to follow.

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The show was not without disturbances. An act titled ‘Clifton’s Senior Moment’ turned out to be an impostor.

John Leo tried to get in on the show’s action but got pulled off soon.

Out you go impostor. Stay out of here!

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THE HOLE

Next up was the piece featuring Nancy Smithner(c), Therese Schorn (r) and Bernie Kramer(l).

It was a strange piece to say the least!

The young girl is being scolded by the grandmother for misbehaving.

After climbing down a ladder into ‘the hole’ they put on mask and play. They also pull out their tails.(?)

After playing they climb out of ‘the hole’ and back to the drawing room. Grandma reads them the bible.

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WILL SHAW sings ‘This Old Man’.

Very unique discussion of the lyrics during the song! lol

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JULIE GOELL performs ‘Feminity Tonight’.

Preparing a nice facial using uncommon ingredients.

A little egg on the nose is always good for the overall appearance.

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VASES with David Sharps

Not only is David an accomplished juggler and performer he also happens to be a captain of a sea vessel.

Karen and Deborah with signs.

David manipulates the small vase.

David with the very heavy and large chinese vase.

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BERNARD KRAMER performs “My Way”.

Singing Frank Sinatra’s  MY WAY as he proceeded to visually portray his ideas about his ‘way’.

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Mildred and Foo Foo

Here we had another example of a performer trying to ‘get in’ to the show even though he wasn’t qualified. (not 50+)

John Leo was remarkable in his never ending attempts to perform in the show.

(and his never ending array of wild and funny characters! Thanks for the hilarity JOHN)

The gig is over. They found out who you really are John Leo!

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THE AMAZING ZAKAHHR

featuring Michael Christensen

Michael has had a long revered career in the NY circus scene. Having performed in Europe with the one-ring circus’  he and juggling partner Paul Binder came back to NY in 1977 and created the BIG APPLE CIRCUS. Michael also created in 1986 the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit. One of the first season’s of the BAC Michael performed his new act with his new character The Amazing Zakahhr.

Now many odd years later he shows us again his wonderfully creative and off beat mind in action.

“Carnavorium bloodius maximus, the Latin name of one of the most remarkable and vicious creatures of the animal kingdom, the Long Haired, Silverback, Soldier Mole! The Soldier Mole, capable of burrowing through solid granite, having no known predators, this mole reigns supreme in the vast arid wastelands of the middle east.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your safety please remain seated!

We now present

The Amazing Zakahrr

And his trained Soldier Mole, Githha!”

Karen and Deborah help Zakahhr get curtain away for the entrance of his trained mole.

His head to the ground to hear the rumblings of his trained mole.

Exasperated by the effort to keep the trained mole from causing havoc on stage.

His arm under the carpet means only one thing. He is performing the finale  ‘grip of death’!

(he is taking a huge chance not to have his hand chewed off  by the mole Githha)

With a hand bloodied he comes out from beneath the rug ‘alive’.

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Final Curtain Call. All of the performers are ready for bed!

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