One look at the Jell-O clown and he will haunt your dreams forevermore


How much do you love the Jell-O clown? (1949 Cushman Archives) Jell-O clown


  1. No, he won’t “haunt your dreams forever”.

    “Happy Mutants” aren’t afraid of circus clowns, teenage girls and other attention whores are though.

    That’s a photo of Felix Adler, well known Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus clown for almost 50 years.

    Felix was an excellent clown and a wonderful guy, he took the time to teach makeup, costuming and gags to many of the newer clowns at a time (before Ringling’s Clown College) when the “tricks of the trade” were jealously guarded secrets.

    Felix is dressed in this Jello themed get up because sponsors used to pay the Ringling clowns extra to theme their “walkarounds” (quick gags done as you are walking the track around the 3 rings) around their products.

    Most of these commercial walkarounds were built by Ringling Producing Clown, Paul Jung.

    When the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was sold by John Ringling North to the Feld family (the current owners) the commercial walkarounds were discontinued and the clowns lost quite a bit of extra pay.

    ~Pat Cashin

    1. he took the time to teach makeup, costuming and gags to many of the newer clowns

      The Typhoid Mary of coulrophobia!

  2. That’s a brave little girl. Notice the adults in the background keeping a safe distance, not at all falling for the JELL-O bait.

  3. I guess we can take comfort in the fact that if indeed that photo was taken in 1949 then Jello-Clown is probably dead by now.

    Unless he is one of those unholy immortal clowns…

  4. “No, he won’t ‘haunt your dreams forever.'”

    That’s a shame. I enjoy my nightmares, and it would have been fun to have this crazy-looking clown play a starring role in them!

  5. The beach balls in the back of Felix’s costume are there to create an oversized, comic appearance but they also show that Mr. Adler was quite savvy after many years on the road.

    The two beach balls keep his costume from off of his body and allow air to circulate throughout his costume.

    This picture was taken in the 1940s, the circus still appeared in tents back then and those tents weren’t air conditioned the way some are today. A two o’clock matinee would probably get incredibly warm for someone in full whiteface makeup, costume and wig running into the ring to perform a physically demanding routine for 5 minutes and then running all the way back out again.

    The beach balls also help to make Felix easier to spot from the cheap seats. The bigger that you can make your facial features and your costuming, the better chance you have of being seen and remembered by the audience.

    Felix was seen for almost 50 years and is remembered by clowns and circus fans very fondly.

  6. fair enough Cash, stand forth as their champion and prove to me that clowns are not Evil. My mind is open.

  7. If you look closely you can see the top of a person’s head trying to escape from the clown’s rear end.

  8. Sorry, but the picture in the Mark Ryden post previous to this one is creepier to me than this.

    I’d rather take a clown over a hornless buffalo and a creepy girl floating on a cloud any day.

  9. I understand Mr. Cashin’s defense of the noble art of clowning, but I’m still reminded of Pennywise. So, no thanks!

  10. The odd thing is, I don’t like clowns (i’m not afeared of them like some folks), but I like this guy. He seems kinda funny.

    Now the Jell-O brand dessert on the other hand, even if you don’t know where it comes from, THAT Jell-O brand dessert don’t look too good.

  11. “I saw ‘It’ and now I’m afraid of clowns!!!”

    Big deal, I saw Psycho and I still take showers.

    Why don’t the many Coulrophobic-wanabees here tak a look at my blog,, and see what a circus clown really is.

    Most people go their whole lives without attending a circus performance. They’ve never actually seen a circus clown. And when they do see a circus, most Americans see a SHRINE circus, which doesn’t employ professional clowns. They use local volunteers.

    They ARE scary. I’m afraid of them.

    But I really encourage folks here to visit the blog and see what circus clowning was and stll, sometimes, is.

    I’ve spent the last 10 years as a professional circus clown, touring America and going as far away as China and Singapore.

    It’s not about balloon twisting and rainbow wigs, it’s about broad slapstick physical and visual comedy, the kind that I grew up watching from the Three Stooges and Looney Tunes.

    I get to do that live! In front of huge audiences! In some of the biggest arenas in the country! I get to blow stuff up, chase midgets, drive fast, throw pies, ride elephants and drop my pants. Everyday. Sometimes twice!

    If you know of a job more fun than that I’d certainly like to hear about it!


  12. One – Cut a hole in a box
    Two – Put your junk in that box
    Three – Make her open the box
    And that’s the way you do it o/~

  13. Worthy maybe Tak, but we’re still allowed to find clowns creepy, despite what grumpy ol’ CashInComedy sez.


  14. Sweet jesus! It looks like he’s got another clowns head in the Jello box and is presenting it to that poor unsuspecting girl.

  15. He’s there to remind the kids that Jell-O is extracted from the bones, organs and hides of animals! Hey kid, did you know that little children are animals too?

    (can’t sleep, clown’s going to partially hydrolyze me)

  16. The “Clown With Duck” is Paul Wenzel, a clown on the Ringling show from the turn of the century until the advent of Clown College in 1968.

    He retired at the age of 90.

    “The Professor” as he was known to the other clowns, was a master of creating enormous and intricate clown props out of silk and wire that were lightweight and collapsed flat.

    When he retired no one remembered to ask him how he did it, when he died the art was lost.

    Fred Garbo’s Inflatable Theater Company is the closest thing that we have to it now but Fred’s props are… well, inflatable and not supported by wire.

  17. It’s not the Enormo-Rump, not the Devo hat, nor the spotted suit or exaggerated makeup…

    No, not them, that’s not what makes me fear this clown…


    It’s the feet. Those horrible, ghastly feet! (I think they’re… real!) *eep!*



  18. Lookit here Cashincomedy, you’re not very jovial for a clown (or clown supporter). Clowns are supposed to make us happy. Why are you not making us happy? Does clowning not have an internet equivalent yet? Do something funny with a virtual balloon or something.


    I love these pictures and I also love clowns. If I thought for an instant that I’d in any way be good at it I’d do it myself.

    Turns out my kempo-black-belt-having drummer bandmate from a “goth/punk” band (I know, I know, goth/clown same/same) I was in in the early 80s was a clown as a youngster. When I found this out my respect for him increased two-fold (or more).

    I say go ahead and be afraid of the clown but RESPECT the clown. ;)

  19. Oh, and be sure to view the poster full size by clicking on the link to the Library of Congress. Huge file, but worth it. Amazing printing.

  20. It is too bad that clowns have lost their meaning in our culture but they have. No one goes to circuses any more and you don’t see them on TV either. Things have just changed and there’s no undoing that. I think that John Wayne Gacey almost single handedly destroyed clowns. Stephen King’s Pennywise didn’t help any. I’m not afraid of clowns they just seem like images from a bygone era to me.

  21. I agree with Noen. Also, I think the whole “evil clown” bit is just tired after IT. I’d say keep doing what you’re doing Cashincomedy, and maybe someday the clown image can be reclaimed as non-threatening. I’m more afraid of unmitigated product placement. Does anyone remember the Coca Cola R2-D2 rip-off at their local supermarket in the 70’s? Sorry, that’s a topic for another time.

  22. I’m quite sure that CASHINCOMEDY is a very nice person, and is certainly sincere in his appreciation for clowning…but this guy taught costuming?

    That took hutzpah!

    Didn’t the other clowns look at this get-up and think that old Felix should’ve laid off the booze?

    That outfit is ridiculous, and by that I mean ridiculous EVEN for a clown.

    He could have taken in the hem by a couple of yards and still shilled Jello by the hat-full to his heart and wallet’s content.

  23. >…but this guy taught costuming?
    >That took chutzpah!

    The costume looks much better when he’s standing all the way up. He’s bending down to the little girl’s level but the legs of the pants are so wide you can’t tell that.

    He comes off as looking like a grossly overweight dwarf (a “Bagonghi” in circus lingo) in the picture but Felix was of average height and normal weight for most of his life.

    There are some really great Maxwell Coplan photos from the 30s of Felix that really show off what great makeup and costumes he had.

  24. It’s the Jello that scares me. There were many clowns too in the hometown of Jello, LeRoy N.Y. where I grew up. The Jello plant was right across the railroad tracks from the cemetary.

  25. Here’s a picture of Felix, standing up, in the same suit…!2.jpg

    These shoes weren’t made for him by the late Wayne Scott. He wouldn’t begin to make high quality clown shoes until about 1970. These shoes were made by the Griffin Shoe Co. of Rochester, NY who had the field all to themselves and made shoes for every circus clown in the country.

    The best quality clown shoes currently available, now that Mr. Scott has passed, are made by the Spear’s Specialty Shoe Co. in Springfield, MA.

  26. Heheh that picture is great :D

    I was never much into clowns until I was at a techno fest in the summer that had a circus as entertainment as the sun was setting. They had these two clowns that were just great. They were pretty funny. What really got me was how they created this dread feeling that things were out of control, as though something shocking might happen at any moment. The suspense it created, which I’m sure was intentional, really pulled me in.

  27. “To me, clowns aren’t funny. In fact, they’re kind of scary. I’ve wondered where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus, and a clown killed my dad.”
    Jack Handy

  28. Hey kids! This nummy red Jello is made of the same gunk holding my hideously deformed red toenails in place! Gobble down those sweet, nourishing connective tissues and collagen! There’s always room for Jello!

  29. Jack @ #59, Don’t you see! When you kick the genitals as hard as possible, you’re just playing THEIR GAME! “Broad slapstick physical …the kind … from the Three Stooges and Looney Tunes”

    Every clown has a prank relating to their own genitals in their “back pocket” (hah) – so don’t fall for it.

  30. Okay, okay, I’ll just wrap the clown in duct tape and throw him in a ditch.

    Anything to get that thing off the Earth.

  31. i know several kids who are terrified of clowns. i think it’s the totally mask-like make-up and the overly broad artificial behavior, which doesn’t read to everyone as humor. it’s got nothing to do with attention, as cashincomedy suggests in his rather condescending first post.

    personally, i prefer the european tradition as documented in Fellini’s “The Clowns”. a bit more mystery. i’m not afraid of clowns but (for me) the broad physical slapstick just isn’t very funny, so i understand the kids’ detachment from it.

    but i’ve seen some brilliant clowning. one at Cirque du Soleil many years ago who seemed to defy the laws of gravity. i wish i knew his name. to each their own. keep clowning.

  32. @Alpinwolf

    It’s the feet. Those horrible, ghastly feet!

    I agree – my god! those humongous (gag) red nails, and that (urp) big toe (ack) with the toenail pointing at 90 degrees (gag) from perpendicular.

  33. Sorry, Cashin, but you still haven’t made a better case for clowns than Terry Pratchett has made against them.

    The problem I have with clowns is the second they show up and do something, somehow you are forced to “enjoy” it. Really? A balloon animal made by a middle-aged carny with make-up and smells like feet and cigarette smoke is “fun”?

    No fun. No fun at all.

  35. Based on CashinComedy’s comments, I’d like to see this clown’s work.

    Not sure why people think he’s creepy, maybe the commercial association makes them think his performance is compromised or Jell-O just hired some jerk off the street to “be a clown” with whatever visions of clowning they might have.

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