However, not even the most psychotic of clown-o-phobics could possibly hate Charlie Cairoli, at one time, quite possibly, the most famous clown in the whole of Britain, if not the World. He was loved both in the ring (careful) and in everyday life.
Let’s have a photograph of him shall we?
There he is look, the famous Blackpool Tower Charlie-Chaplin look-a-like, accompanied by his substantially less well-known, morbidly made-up sidekick. Throughout his career Charlie had four white-faced companions, respectively Paul Freeman, Paul King, Paul Conner and Charlie Cairoli Junior, explaining why the adverts generally read: “Charlie Cairoli and Paul.”
Here’s another photograph of the great man himself, this time doing his bit for Women’s Lib.
Charlie was born Carletto Cairoli in Milan on February 15th 1910. He made his performing debut at the early age of seven. Following a stint with his father at the Cirque Medrano in Paris, followed by a short tour of Europe, the Cairoli family joined the Tower Circus in 1939.
Charlie remained there for thirty-nine years. He might not have been the first clown in the Tower, but he certainly stayed the longest.
I think. Somebody might have lasted longer than him actually, but I’m not in the mood for researching today. Whatever the case, he eventually died in 1980.
It’s time for a shot of the interior of the Tower Circus, just to set the scene, I reckon.
The Tower Circus wasn’t the earliest circus in Blackpool by any means (that honour goes to a big top that once stood on the site now occupied by the Grand Theatre) but it was certainly the most impressive, as the painting of it above illustrates.
Every show would end with a spectacular display of fountains in which the ring would fill with water.
Charlie Cairoli was also famous for his musical ability.
The clarinet (yes, I know he’s holding a trombone in the photograph, but I couldn’t find one of him holding the clarinet so it’ll have to do) was one of his favourite instruments, so much so in fact that he had a glass mouthpiece especially moulded for his own.
Years later, a friend of ours (who shall remain nameless for reasons which will become clear as this tale unfolds) was a budding, if not terribly enthusiastic, clarinettist herself. As a way of encouraging her to practice, her father bought the afore-mentioned mouthpiece. Unfortunately, one evening, following a drunken teenage binge, our anonymous friend collapsed onto the bed where she’d left her clarinet and, being a bit on the hefty side, shattered the mouthpiece into pieces.
Charlie Cairoli fans are no doubt reeling in horror round about now, so perhaps it’d best if we ended this article with one final photograph of the Tower Circus in full swing.
There’s nothing like a pack of small yappy dogs being mistreated to cheer people up, is there?