The Photobooth Clown

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I have published photos of this clown before but at the time I knew nothing about him, except that he kept popping up in online auctions in photobooth photos. I am happy to say I now know that this is Yo Yo the clown. Of course he was more frequently known by his birth name, Bill Alcott. I bought this and most of the photobooth photos below from his daughter, Arlene Albrecht. She has so many souvenirs of her own and her father’s career in the circus that she was happy to part with these small items.

Bill started clowning when he was 5 years old as his uncle was a strong man in the circus. He performed well into his 70s. When Arlene was a child she travelled and performed with her father in Jay Gould’s Million Dollar Circus. The circus had a carnival, so it was a complete package for state fairs & other community celebrations. Arlene’s mother had a photobooth and her brother had a slum spindle (which I believe is a game designed to favor the owner, not the player) on the midway. Later the family added snow cones & cotton candy to the business.

The photobooth was very popular during the second world war as all the girls at home were sending pictures to their sweethearts in the military. Their photobooth was a great feature, for children and adults alike, to get a personalised souvenir of the circus. I will post some of that type of photo soon.

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It is interesting that his advertisement for work mentions that he was sober. Taking one meaning of the word, it is hardly appealing to employ a clown of sober mood. Taking the other meaning of sober, which is obviously the one intended, one wonders if there were so many drunken clowns in the business, that it  was necessary to specify that detail.

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The photos below are copyrighted to Clown Alley. I asked for permission to use them but didn’t receive a reply. I hope using them will not upset anyone.

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St Louis Police Circus 1956. Yo Yo is the second last clown on the right.

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Yo Yo in colour, cuddling a Policeman clown.

30 comments
  1. John said:

    Amazing images. Some people are creeped out by clowns, this guy looks pretty tame.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. fabulous article and collection~Yo yo the clown photo booth photo went through my hands as well, and was one of the best clown faces I have ever seen. thanks for posting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nakki Goranin said:

    Thanks for the research! I’ve got a couple of images of him too !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Nakki. I may have swiped some of the ones you have from eBay. I am doing two more posts about him and in the final one, I am using images I don’t own. Let me know if any of them are yours and if you want a credit or for me to remove them.

      Like

  4. tam said:

    Fascinating! I was a bit creeped out. Stupid media & film for drilling it into us that clowns are scary. Stupid self for believeing media 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Tam, my research suggests that originally clowns were supposed to be unsettling. Their comedy was based on poking fun at authority and saying and doing things that would have been socially unacceptable by anyone else. I think you can be forgiven for finding them scary. I mostly do, but not Yo Yo!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Bry! Your article was fabulously funny and the photos were great too. Reminds me of all the tales of drunken midgets on the Wizard of Oz set.

      I lived in Leicester for two years (have I already told you this?) . It was the only place I’d ever been in the UK, nay, the world, where I was greeted with variations on, “You’ve come to live here? Why the fuck would anyone choose to live HERE?”. No one ever said welcome or hope you like it etc. I actually did like it there but my now ex-husband didn’t, so we moved on.

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      • Yes, I do remember, now you mention it. If you know anything about football – soccer to people in the US – you will have heard that Leicester City has become a global sensation over the last twelve months, so much so that people in places as far apart as Buenos Aries and Baltimore now know how to pronounce it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • And soccer here in Australia, too. Haven’t heard anything about Leicester City’s superstardom. Will keep an ear out. Anything that gives us foreigners the chance to know how to pronounce UK place names is very welcome. How do they pronounce Belvoir Street in Leicester city centre? They say Beaver Street! Confused? Me?

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    • That must have been terrifying if you were a child sitting on his lap. Come to think of it, it would be quite scary for me even now!

      Liked by 1 person

      • it wasn’t while I was sitting on his lap – it’s when I got up and he kind of tipped over right onto the floor lol! Very shocking!! Grandma tried to soften it by saying the elves gave Santa a bit too much punch!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh, now it is sad. I bet you worried about it. You might have imagined a Christmas for you and all your friends with no presents!

          Liked by 1 person

            • Yes , but visiting Father Christmas was a very big deal, at that age. I have often wondered about his name being changed to Santa in Australia. He was always Father Christmas here until I was grown up. I guess Santa fits better on signage and packaging!

              Liked by 1 person

  5. Your collection is amazing! I recall the clowns I have seen, live and on TV. That was the time before they became a symbol of horror 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How nice you can find all this information. A fine post with a story. I think Clown Alley will love this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope so. They are not very communicative! Thanks for all the comments, Ted. You put me to shame.

      Like

  7. Love clowns! Scary and fun. Dropping a digital note to you sayin,” Ted was Here”! Too bad I do not have spray paint, digital spray paint. Have a fun weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

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