United Press: Pepito is Clowning Happy (1943)

Sunday, March 21, 1943

By Frederick C. Othman 

United Press Hollywood Correspondent 

HOLLYWOOD – You’ve probably never stopped to think about clowns, and their troubles. They’ve got ’em and the more famous the clown, the worse his woe. Take Pepito, who is the greatest clown of them all. For years he traveled the world with the 14-inch cigar that bounced; the long underwear with red wool embroidery to give him hairy legs; the sunflower bouttoniere; the white vest that reached to his knees, and the yellow shoes a foot and a half long. So costumed, Pepito pulled the trigger of the gun that shot rabbits out of its muzzle. He operated the camera that punched its victim in the nose when he sat for a portrait. He rode the smallest bi-cycle in the world. He made people laugh. He earned $2,500 a week. Week alter week. Year after year. 

Vaudeville went blooie a few years back. That left Pepito three possible places in which to work: 1, circuses; 2, night clubs; 3, hotels.  A circus clown earns about $30 a week, plus keep, and washes off the grease paint in a bucket of cold water. Pepito wanted none of that. 

No. 2 wasn’t so good, either. “What I did,” said Pepito, who hails from Barcelona, Spain, “was that I got a booking into one of the biggest night clubs in Chicago.  Run by a couple of ex-bootleggers. They said they’d give me an audition. They took a look at me and said they wanted no clowns messing up their place. They didn’t appreciate clowns. So I did not play in Chicago. 

“I tried other night clubs and found the work very difficult. There always were too many other clowns sitting at the front tables, drinking, and going woo-woo.” 

His third alternative was hotel dining rooms. “No,” said Pepito. “The people were always eating and although I insist I was just as clean as they were, they’d take a look at my clown makeup, and say they couldn’t enjoy their food. Made ’em think of animals and sawdust. Ruined their appetites. No go.” 

That left the world’s greatest clown with no clowning to do. He settled down in Hollywood about three years ago and became a movie actor. He never put any paint on his face except the standard panchromatic yellow variety. 

That is, not until he got a part with Ginger Rogers in a movie called “Lady in the Dark.” Pepito is a clown once more. And head man of 75 other clowns of all shapes, sizes and shades. He selected his assistant clowns, he designed their costumes, and he worried mightily about his midget clowns, all of whom have regular jobs at Lockheed, bolting bombers together. He had a tough time getting them to Paramount. He also developed blisters riding the world’s smallest bicycle. 

But he was happy. He was a clown again. “And that’s what I want to talk about,” said Pepito. “This Pagliacci business is hooey. I never saw a broken-hearted clown. If a clown doesn’t feel good, he can’t be funny. I feel elegant. Swell. Except for those blisters.”


The Coshocton Tribune, Sunday Morning, March 21, 1943, Page 7.

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