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Monthly Archives: March 2016

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From my collection

Yo Yo (Bill Alcott) is seen above with a Majorette, which I have just discovered is an American term for a baton twirling marching girl. In Australia we have a different name for this type of performer. We call them  Baton Twirling Marching Girls. Not much linguistic creativity there, Oz! The above souvenir photo is one of many I have seen on eBay, in the past two years or so, where we see Yo Yo posing with a visitor to the carnival or circus. The above photo is the only one that shows somebody in a costume that indicates they were also performers at the event.

My scanner has failed to capture how wonderful this photo is.  There is a depth to the photo that is not visible here. Our marching girl is beautiful. She looks serene and comfortable getting a hug from my favourite clown. I wonder if they were friends?

Below are more photos of Yo Yo with circus goers. Unless otherwise indicated, I do not own them, but copied them from the eBay listing when they were sold.

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From my collection

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When I purchased photos of Bill Alcott, also known as Yo Yo the clown, I also bought some of his brother Jim Alcott. As there are no photos of Bill without his clown make-up to be found online, I thought it would be the next best thing to have a glimpse of his real features through those of a close member of his family, and also, of course via photobooth photos. There is a definite resemblance if one only takes into account the shape of their faces.

I think these are also fabulous photos in their own right. Jim has a handsome and kindly face that I find very appealing. I know nothing of Jim’s occupation, but he looks to me like a man of the land in his bib and brace overalls. The first photo also puts me in mind of a storybook locomotive driver, mostly due to the hat he is wearing.

In the photo below, Jim is with a friend named Elmer. With no disrepect meant, he reminds me of his namesake the  Warner Bros. character Elmer Fudd.  This is as much for his looks as for the fact that, until these photos arrived, I had never heard of anyone in real life with that name before.

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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.

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I don’t much like it when elderly couples are characterised as ‘sweet’ or ‘cute’. I think it is patronising and condescending. It ignores the fact that older people are smart, experienced and tough. If they have maintained a relationship for long enough to be growing old together then they are patient, loving and tolerant as well.

This 1930s photobooth photo from the USA shows a couple that has lived well and survived. They appear to be dressed up for a special occasion or simply for a trip into town, which may have been a special occasion itself. They still have a sense of adventure and fun to have stopped, into what was a very recent invention, to have their photo taken. I like their matching granny glasses, her lace collar and beads.

They both have wonderful half smiles that make me feel that they were enjoying themselves and each others company.

 

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Here is another one of a series of photobooth adorned file cards from a Parisian acting agency. I had previously thought that all the photos in the series were from the 1960s, however the seller has told me that some come from the 50s as well. This one looks to me to have a definite 50s feel to it.

Each card shows an actor in a pose which they hope will entice someone to give them work. Along with Rose Marie Arotce’s address and telephone number on the front of the card, there are details listed on the back. Rose Marie’s height in metres is recorded as 1.68.  She was a model (not surprising due to her height, sophisticated style and beauty) and also a comedienne. I am very impressed that she is listed as a comedian, as even now it is a difficult field for a woman to work in. I imagine it would have been much harder some 60 years ago. The abbreviation GRC appears on this card and some of the others. I have still not worked out what it might be short for.

None of the actors, in the cards I procured, ever made it big in the acting profession, however I have set myself the task of searching IMdB to discover if any of my new photobooth friends worked at all in film and televison.

If you would like to see some of the other cards in this series, please click here.

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This is the third post of photos of the same young, beautiful woman, who I have named Ms Toledo. To read more of how she came to have that name and see more images of her, please click here.

Once again Ms Toledo is showing off a gorgeous, though somewhat precariously place hat and a fashionable hair style or two.

Most of the photos, including these ones, are approximately 38 x 44 mm in size.

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