Tuesday, March 23, 1943
HOLLYWOOD, March 22, 1943 (U.P.) — 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 bounces, the long underwear with red wood embroidery to give him hairy legs, the sunflower buttoniere, the white vest that reaches to his knees, and the yellow shoes a foot and a half long.
So costumed, Pepito pulled the trigger of the gun that shoots rabbits out of its muzzle. He operated the camera that punches its victim in the nose when he sits for a portrait. He rode the smallest bicycle in the world. He made people laugh. He earned $2,500 a week, week after week. Year after year.
Vaudeville went blooie a few years back. That left Pepito three possible places in which to work — circuses, night clubs or 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. Cafes weren’t so good, either.
Work Very Difficult
“What I mean,” 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 were always were too many clowns sitting at the front tables, drinking and going woo-woo.
His third alternative was hotel dining rooms.
“No good,” 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 make-up 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 great clown with no clowning to do. He settled down in Hollywood about three years ago and became a movie character actor. He never put any special paint on his face except the standard panchromatic yellow variety. That is, not until today.
Ginger Rogers still was having her fabulous dream (she’s been dreaming now for four weeks in Technicolor) in a movie called “Lady in the Dark.”
The dream took Miss Rogers to heaven, where she danced on the clouds with Jon Hall in a suit of solid gold and passed out cold when she got too big a whiff of carbon dioxide, which is the stuff that makes clouds.
Today Miss Rogers stirred restlessly, turned over on her side, and started dreaming about circuses. All gold and spangles and genuine satin costumes and all the cash customers wearing top hats and Miss Rogers, herself, riding the white horse.
A Clown Again
That’s where Pepito came in. As 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 when director Mitchell Leisen needed them.
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.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 23, 1943, Page 16.