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 Felix Adler

Felix Adler

Original Name Frank B.
Birth
Clinton, Clinton County, Iowa, USA
Death 1 Feb 1960 (aged 64)
New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Clinton, Clinton County, Iowa, USA
Memorial ID 6377443 · View Source
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Circus Entertainer. He was a celebrated Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus clown, and was known to circus goers everywhere as "The King of Clowns", "Greatest Clown on Earth", and "White House Clown", the last because he was a favorite of presidential youngsters. He was often photographed with the Hoover grandchildren and the Roosevelt grandchildren, having been invited to Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1943 birthday party in recognition of his visits to hospitalized children. He received his first contract with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1914. He took a leave of absence in 1918 to serve in the United States Army during World War I, but returned to Ringling following his discharge, and was with "The Greatest Show On Earth" until the start of the American Guild of Variety Artists strike in 1956. He returned to the circus for the 1958 season. His trademark fire-engine-red putty clown nose sported a sparkling rhinestone embedded in the tip, and he became easily recognizable among the congress of clowns by his oversize posterior (inflated beach balls underneath his specially-designed costumes), tiny parasol, and side-splitting clown gags featuring little trained piglets as each piglet grew larger, Felix Adler was kept busy trying to find pig farmers in the towns where the show would be playing, then negotiating to swap the rapidly-growing porkers for new, smaller ones.) He married Amelia Irwin in 1948, and she joined him on the road in clown costume and makeup as "The Queen of Clowns". He was the first American clown to appear on television, and a number of television guest spots marked his career (including "Howdy Doody", "Super Circus" and "Martin Kane, Private Eye"). In 1952 he appeared in Cecil B. DeMille's circus motion picture epic "The Greatest Show on Earth", which starring Charlton Heston and Betty Hutton. Changing times eventually resulted in Felix Adler's split from Ringling in 1959. He passed away in New York City during surgery for ulcers, while recovering from earlier ulcer surgery. He was one of the first clowns inducted posthumously into the Clown Hall of Fame in Delavan, Wisconsin on April 23, 1989. Each June the town of Clinton, Iowa celebrates "Felix Adler Days". "The Felix Adler Discovery Center", a childrens' museum, has also been established there.

Bio by: Verne Langdon


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Jim Tipton
  • Added: 28 Apr 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6377443
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Felix Adler (17 Jun 1895–1 Feb 1960), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6377443, citing Springdale Cemetery, Clinton, Clinton County, Iowa, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .