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5 Famous Clowns (From Funny to Frightening!)

From Funny to Frightening- 5 Famous Clowns-1

Whether it's because you're laughing or crying, clowns are captivating figures. From the early clown in the 1800s to modern cinematic horrors, join us as we explore five famous clowns who've made a mark on history — for better or worse.

1. Joey

In the early 1800s, English performer Joseph Grimaldi, known as the "father of modern clowning," was the first clown to don the iconic white makeup and paint large, smiling red lips on his face. His character, "Joey" was famous for his outrageous attire and masterful tricks. Grimaldi was so popular that London holds an annual remembrance to celebrate his role in shaping the art of clowning.


2. Bozo the Clown

A fictional character who left a significant mark on television history, Bozo the Clown graced various U.S. TV shows, notably "Bozo's Circus" and later "The Bozo Show," which premiered in 1960. With fiery red hair, a bulbous red nose, and oversized shoes, Bozo captivated children across the nation for decades.

3. Ronald McDonald

Ronald McDonald, perhaps one of the most recognized clowns in America, was designed by Willard Scott in the early 1960s. Known for being the face of the fast-food chain McDonald's®, Ronald is a polarizing figure that delighted some and terrified others, all while promoting burgers and fries. While still the official spokesperson, Ronald is rarely used to promote the brand anymore.


4. Pogo the Clown

Pogo the Clown was known to perform professionally at charitable events and children's parties. Personally, Pogo the Clown, also known as John Wayne Gacy, was best known for committing heinous crimes, including murdering 33 boys and young men in the Chicago area in the 1970s.

5. Pennywise

Possibly inspired by Gacy, Pennywise emerged from the creative mind of Stephen King in his 1986 horror novel "It." This demonic clown assumes various forms to terrorize the fictional town of Derry, Maine. Pennywise and his sinister nature have been the subject of a TV mini-series (1990) and two films (2017, 2019), and have terrorized decades of kids and adults alike.


These five famous clowns showcase our white and red-faced friends' fascinating and sometimes fear-inducing duality. Whether you love or hate them, clowns have made their mark on history and are here to stay.

References: From Funny to Frightening: 5 Famous Clowns | 15 Facts About Clowns for International Clown Week

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