Roger Schutt and Pepito’s Trick Violin (2008)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

by Melani Carty

This is the story of a magical Christmas present given to me by a very kind person I have never met:  Mr. Roger Schutt.  It all began last autumn, when a number of Pepito-related items were being sold on eBay.  One of the eBay lots contained a number of old photos of Pepito and an antique “trick violin” that I suspected may be the older sister to the famous “trick cello” that Pepito built for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s vaudeville act in 1950.

Roger Schutt was the person who won the auction for the trick violin and some accompanying photos.  Over the next few weeks, we became good penpals, writing back and forth about my research into the life and times of Pepito the Spanish Clown.  Roger Schutt did not know Pepito personally, but, being a professional clown himself (see photos below), Roger could see with his discerning eye for details, that Pepito was a talented clown indeed.  The photos showed that Pepito had a firm grasp of costuming, props, makeup, and facial expressions.  In the photo above, Pepito is wearing a prosthetic nose of his own design that, just by its shape and uptilt, gives you everything you need to know about his character, “The Maestro”:  he is snooty and untalented, but thinks quite highly of himself and his abilities as a musician.

The next part of the story is the real surprise.  After our enthusiastic correspondence, and perusing my website, Roger decided to ship the violin and photos to my house as a special Christmas gift!  

I must say that never, ever have I experienced so much kindness from someone I have never met.  The internet is a very magical place indeed, and a wonderful way to become friends with people who live far away but have identical interests.  

Below are two pictures of Roger Schutt in costume as Butterbean the Clown.  He has a weekday job, but loves his part time work making children happy.  He certainly made me happy too!  Thank you Roger, thank you for the kindness in your heart and your amazing generosity.

Oh, I almost forgot to say that, now that I have looked at it in my own hands, this violin must be Pepito’s precursor to the famous trick cello that he gave to Lucille Ball, because it too has a trap door on the back and a big rubber band for shooting the bow across the room. 

If you have forgotten Lucy’s cello routine which was devised by Pepito the Spanish Clown and used in the Lost Pilot and Episode 6 of “I Love Lucy,” then hurry on over to YouTube, or check your streaming channels.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009 – 02:25 PM

Shawn Sousa “Husband to Tricia/Dance Instructor”

Melani,  Thanks for sharing this information and journey you are on.  Our family was greatly saddened by the handling of their estate.  My wife Tricia told me of your call last night and of this website.  I am overjoyed by the work you are doing here.  I know Joanne would be tickled pink to know that people like you are making something good out of how the estate was sold off.  I know first hand from Joanne’s lips that she wanted their home and items to bless anyone who was interested in the arts (dancing, singing and acting) and not to be sold off to the highest bidder.  

Roger,  I was inspired by your gift and lifted up by this story.  My hope is that through gifts like yours and others, Melani will be equipped to tell the story of Pepito and Joanne so that people will be inspired to dance, sing and act to brighten the world around us as they did during their time with us.

Friday, October 8, 2010 – 07:09 AM

Roger Schutt

Thank you for the kind words, Melani. Part of being a clown is doing ones best to bring joy into the hearts of others. And if I’ve done that for you and others, then my day is brightened as well.

What you give of yourself is priceless, Melani. You share each and every tidbit of information that you come across, so freely, because there truly is a great story here to be told. We admire you greatly for that.

I was fascinated when I chatted with you on the phone.  You have a unique ability of putting the correct spin on so much of the data you’ve collected.  I suspect that part of this is from your first hand knowledge of Pepito and Joanne, but also through an innate gut feeling, and your forensic approach to research. We salute you!

I’m glad we could become friends through such a strange twist of events. An old violin and a few photo’s are a small price to pay for the honor and privilege to call you and your family my friends.

So glad that our paths crossed. Wishing you and your family the very best always, and God’s blessing every step of the way!

Your funny friend,

Roger Schutt

As they say in show business….”See you somewhere down the road!”

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