For those who still can't tell them apart, or don't know that there is a marked difference between them, today we look at Emmett Kelly and Emmett Kelly Jr.
Emmett Kelly was born December 9, 1898 in Sedan, Kansas, and began his career as a trapeze artist. In 1923, Emmett Kelly was working his trapeze act with John Robinson's circus when he met and married Eva Moore, another circus trapeze artist. They later performed together as the "Aerial Kellys" with Emmett still performing occasionally as a whiteface clown.
He began working as a clown full-time in 1931, and it was only after years of attempting to persuade the management that he was able to switch from a whiteface clown to his now-famous tramp character.
That character, "Weary Willie", was a clown who, rather than go for the laugh, instead appealed to the sympathy of his audience.
His approach was revolutionary for it's time: traditionally, circus clowns wore whiteface and performed elaborate slapstick stunts intended to make people laugh. Kelly (and, more importantly, his versatile mentor on the Cole Brothers Circus, Otto Griebling) helped to usher in an entirely new rhythm and style of circus comedy.
From 1942-1956 Kelly performed with the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus, where he was a major attraction. He left after the AGVA strike of 1956 and spent the next two seasons in New York City performing as the mascot for the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team. He continued to appear as a celebrity attraction on spot dates, with Shrine Circuses and in nightclubs for the remainder of his career. He also appeared on Broadway, on television and in film roles.
Emmett Kelly Sr. died at the age of 80 of a heart attack on March 28, 1979, at his home in Sarasota, Florida. He is buried in the Rest Haven Memorial Park, in Lafayette, Indiana.
Emmett Jr. is a United States Navy veteran and former auto mechanic who successfully traded on his father's celebrity to carve out a career for himself by appropriating his father's likeness and his most famous routines.
He is best known as the subject of a long running series of collectible figurines that give the impression that he enjoyed a long and distinguished circus career.
He, in fact, did not.
Emmett Sr. was a circus clown. Emmett Jr. is a successful marketer of chochskis.