Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December 9 – Weary Willie Day

Today celebrates Emmett Kelly’s birthday – he was born on Dec 9 in 1898. He was born in Kansas, but grew up in Missouri. He ended up working in silent films and came up with the character Weary Willie. After doing many other things, and turning down The Ringling Brothers twice, he finally signed with them in 1942.

Emmett Kelly, in his guise as Weary Willie, did not join the huge Spectacle numbers at the conclusion of each performance, but instead wandered into other performers' acts -- string up laundry on a low acrobatic wire, dusting off animals, and working the stands. In addition, Emmett Kelly also performed in the ring in his own acts, with the most famous undoubtedly being his "sweeping the spotlight" routine.

Emmett Kelly Sr. remained with the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus for fourteen seasons, taking the 1956 season off to perform as the 'mascot' for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Emmett was active on Broadway ("Please Keep off the Grass") and movies (notably the circus classic The Greatest Show on Earth and Fellini's classic The Clowns). Beginning in 1957, he worked with the Shrine Circus and made personal appearances worldwide.

Emmett Kelly Sr. died of a heart attack on March 28, 1979, at his home in Sarasota, Florida, USA. He is memorialized by the Emmett Kelly Museum in his birth town of Sedan, KS.(
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1 comment:

  1. This is one of Emmett's favorite days so far!