Emmett Kelly

From BR Bullpen

Emmett Leo Kelly

Biographical Information[edit]

Emmett Kelly was a famous clown who was a performer-in-residence at Brooklyn Dodgers games before their move to Los Angeles, CA.

He is most famous for creating the character of "Weary Willie", based on Depression-era hobos. He was originally trained as a cartoonist and in that capacity developed a character who was a tramp named "Old Dubey", who would form the basis of his later-day incarnation. He also trained as a circus artist - his first specialty was the trapeze - and developed his persona working as a circus clown with the John Robinson Circus, the oldest traveling circus in the United States. He became famous as a performer after the circus closed down due to the Great Depression, and Weary Willie became a symbol of the era. He also appeared on Broadway and in night clubs, and eventually joined the Ringling Brothers Circus in 1944. He appeared in a starring role in the 1951 movie The Fat Man and in an (almost) non-specking supporting role in The Greatest Show on Earth (1952). His act was normally silent, except for a few grunts.

The most famous clown in America, he wrote his autobiography, which was turned into a television special, and appeared on numerous television shows after leaving Ringling Brothers. In 1957, he was hired by the Brooklyn Dodgers, who had long been nicknamed Dem Bums, as a clown-in-residence, impersonating the joy of Brooklynites in victory, and their collective sadness in defeat. His contract was terminated the following March, after the team had become the Los Angeles Dodgers and wanted to develop a new image now that it was based near Hollywood. However, he continued to appear in movies, in circus performances and on television on a regular basis until his passing, as he never formally retired.

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