Famed Alumni

     Since its formation in 1968, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College has been a valuable talent pool for the famed Ringling Bros. Clown Alley. For close to 30 years it has afforded more than 1400 graduates the opportunity to pursue a career in this age-old profession. Prior to 1968, clowns had to be "born" into the Circus.

     A quick glance at our alumni list reveals that some of the great names in American entertainment graduated from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. Our distinguished alumns have starred on stage as well as worked behind the scenes.

     Clown College graduates have performed in the hit musical Barnum, produced the acclaimed Ain't Misbehavin' on Broadway and appeared on Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, Northern Exposure, and The Late Show with David Letterman. The list goes on.

     Graduates have also produced and appeared in numerous television commercials and have been seen in films such as The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Under the Rainbow, Stephen King's Cat's Eye, and True Lies.

     Clearly, graduates of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College boast an impressive list of career credits. Just a few of the varied professions pursued by our alumni include by our alumni include makeup artist, fine artist, theatrical producer, director, writer, creative consultant,  zookeeper, special effects technician, graphic artist, costume designer, college professor, puppeteer, casting director and actor.

     Bill Irwin, a 1974 Clown College graduate who has performed in numerous theatrical productions around the country, has the notable distinction of being the first performing artist to receive the coveted Mac Arthur Fellowship. Designed to "free creative people from the necessity of seeking a conventional income," the Fellowship was awarded to Irwin in 1984. Irwin wrote, produced and performed in In Regard of Flight, Largely New York, and starred in the Broadway hit Fool Moon.

     Most graduates have gained valuable skills and expertise at Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Clown College, enabling them to pursue their career interests in the performing arts. One graduate summed it up this way: "In an intense eight-week period, I was exposed to clowning, pantomime, stiltwalking, choreography, acrobatics, rope-twirling, hat tricks... That's just skimming the surface. I tested my limits, found out what I liked and what I didn't, explored my ambitions. It was an unforgettable educational experience."

Clown College alumni take center stage in a variety of creative venues...

Keith Crary Class of '68
Emmy Award Winning Makeup Artist

Peggy Williams Class of '70
First female clown hired from Clown College
to tour with The Greatest Show on Earth.

Tim Holst Class of '71
Vice President, Talent & Production
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey

David Nicksay Class of '72
Hollywood Film Producer

Michael Bonger
Producer, New York Follies

Dr. Ronald Jenkins Class of '73
Author, Acrobats of the Soul

Dick Monday Class of '74
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey
Clown College

Steve La Porte
Academy Award Winning
Makeup Artist

Barry Lubin
"The Grandma,"
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey,
The Big Apple Circus

Bill Irwin
Star of Broadway's Fool Moon

Ruth Chaddock
Special Events Manager
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey

Peggy Ford
Artistic Director, Make-A-Circus

Jeff Loseff Class of '76
Talent Manager

Barry Berman Class of '79
Screenwrite, Benny & Joon

Doug Boyd Class of '85
Blue Unit General Manager,
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey