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Stunning Vintage Photos of Circus Clowns from the 1940s and 1950s by Sverre Braathens

The Braathens, Sverre, and Faye were active and avid circus enthusiasts. Sverre’s passion for circus began when he was a boy watching the Gollmar Brothers Circus unload, parade, and perform on the Great Plains in Mayville, North Dakota, in the early 1900s.

Sverre loved circuses, so he began collecting circus music. He developed his photographic skills while following circuses throughout the upper Midwest every season. Throughout the years, his collection grew to include route books, business materials, periodicals, and a great deal of correspondence between all levels of circus personnel – from band members to performers, riggers to roustabouts.

These images date from the early 1940s to the late 1950s and depict clowns, who have always been an essential part of the circus.

#1 24-sheet billboard with a picture of Pat Valdo as a white-face clown.

24-sheet billboard with a picture of Pat Valdo as a white-face clown.

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#2 Albert White, a clown in The Good Old Times spec wardrobe.

Albert White, a clown in The Good Old Times spec wardrobe.

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#3 Paul Jerome, a clown with a pitcher and lamp.

Paul Jerome, a clown with a pitcher and lamp.

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#4 A midget clown on an extremely hot and humid day.

A midget clown on an extremely hot and humid day.

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#5 Felix Adler, a clown in spec wardrobe on a Holidays spec float.

Felix Adler, a clown in spec wardrobe on a Holidays spec float.

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#6 Ernie Burch, a clown in a long red dress.

Ernie Burch, a clown in a long red dress.

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#7 Emmett Kelly, one of the very best of all clowns with a large popcorn bag.

Emmett Kelly, one of the very best of all clowns with a large popcorn bag.

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#8 William “Bill” Hanlon, a clown from Sarasota, Florida.

William "Bill" Hanlon, a clown from Sarasota, Florida.

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#9 A clown in aerial ballet webb sitter wardrobe.

A clown in aerial ballet webb sitter wardrobe.

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#10 William Hanlon, clown in spec wardrobe.

William Hanlon, clown in spec wardrobe.

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#11 Arthur Burson, a clown in blue The Good Old Times spec wardrobe.

Arthur Burson, a clown in blue The Good Old Times spec wardrobe.

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#12 Louis Nagy, a clown in pink Circus Serenade wardrobe.

Louis Nagy, a clown in pink Circus Serenade wardrobe.

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#13 Albert White, a clown in spec wardrobe.

Albert White, a clown in spec wardrobe.

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#14 Felix Adler, a clown in spec wardrobe.

Felix Adler, a clown in spec wardrobe.

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#15 Harry Nelson, a stilt-walking clown.

Harry Nelson, a stilt-walking clown.

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#16 A clown with a large crescent head piece in Holidays spec wardrobe.

A clown with a large crescent head piece in Holidays spec wardrobe.

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#17 Louis Nagy.

Louis Nagy.

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#18 Otto Griebling from German and one of the best of all clowns.

Otto Griebling from German and one of the best of all clowns.

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#19 Frank Cromwell.

Frank Cromwell.

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#20 John Tripp.

John Tripp.

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#21 Gene Lewis, a clown in Holidays spec wardrobe.

Gene Lewis, a clown in Holidays spec wardrobe.

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#22 Fred Hanlon.

Fred Hanlon.

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#23 Clown on stilts.

Clown on stilts.

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Written by Jacob Aberto

Sincere, friendly, curious, ambitious, enthusiast. I'm a content crafter and social media expert. I love Classic Movies because their dialogue, scenery and stories are awesome.

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