Monday, May 10, 2021




Chic Silber said...

In regards to the question

from BoppaBill about ownership

I have this ORIGINAL of Otto by

Bill Balentine for Art Concello

that I inherited upon his death

It is framed & matted fittingly

& it hangs prominently on a wall

in my Sarasota home & is cherished

I had the greatest admiration

for Otto & had the opportunity

to get to know him over the years

Chic Silber said...

Otto would wander through the

crowd with this Railway Express

well traveled package during

the performance without saying

a word (even when he could)

as if searching for delivery

A true master of pantomime

Chic Silber said...

Bill Balentine's son Toby

died April 14th at age 71

here in Sarasota

Roger Smith said...

When I had the privilege to meet Otto, thankfully several times, I found him surprisingly open and friendly--except when a dumb fan walked up and said, "Hello, Emmett." Otto had a small photo of Emmett Kelly on his trunk. He angrily pointed to it, exclaiming, "I'm Otto, not Emmett! DOT'S Emmett. I don't LOOK like DOT!"

My favorite line about Otto came from Flo White. He observed, "Otto is the only circus clown who can make other clowns laugh."

Charles Hanson said...

Otto was the best..He was funny and could work the come in like no other. Always felt like he deserved more recognition than he received.

Chic Silber said...

Otto would entertain an entire Big Top or Arena

crowd for as long as needed with 3 4 or 5 battered

pie tins (depending on his mood) & have them all

in the palms of his hands screaming with joy

Charles Hanson said...

CHIC....That is exactly what I attempted to say...He was the man....A first class entertainer.

Chic Silber said...

Another favorite pantomime turn

of mine was his wandering around

with a pad & pencil stopping to

study a single spectator as if

to judge their reactions & when

he found the exact right time he

would lick the lead of his pencil

& make a big slashing mark as if

to show his disdain

Charles Hanson said...

Saw that a few times also....Loved it...He truly knew how to use the old KISS method..Keep it simple s----d.....He did not need a ton of equipment to pull off a gag.

Chic Silber said...

Otto Griebling died on April 19th 1972

just 9 days short of his 76th birthday

Chic Silber said...

A show of hands please

How many of us remember

Railway Express Agency

Nowadays that package

would be labeled FedEx

& the Amazon Swoosh

Bob Swaney said...

You mean those huge wagons with long tongues pulled up beside the train on the platform?

Rick Whelan said...

Hi Chic - Happy to see the new blog entries! (You don't need to publish this comment, as it contains some sensitive info.) Ringling clown Gene Lewis and I were "pen pals" when I was a kid. Back then I wanted to be a clown when I "grew up." I saw his picture in the paper and just wrote him a letter (sent the letter to the Winter Quarters in Sarasota.) Gene wrote back a lovely reply and we just started writing each other. (I’ve saved all his letters and someday I plan to donate them to Baraboo.) I first met Gene when Ringling played Plainville CT (my hometown) in the mid-50s. He was wonderful to me and introduced me to his great friend, Albert White. Another introduction to the Doll Family was also quite memorable! When Ringing subsequently played MSG, my parents would drive me down to NYC and Gene and I would meet. We'd go out to lunch with my parents and I remember these times as some of my happiest! However, one time we went down to NY to meet Gene but as I went backstage at the old Garden, Gene was nowhere to be found. All his clown alley pals, probably embarrassed, played “dumb,” as if they had no idea where he went. As I returned to my seat, I was walking along the backstage track that surrounded the area. Otto Griebling was sitting on a trunk, waiting to go on with his pie-plate-juggling routine. He stopped me and asked me how I knew Gene. I told him we were friends, and he placed his hand on my shoulder and explained that “Gene was drinking again.” He said this sometimes happened … and that Gene would disappear for a time. The other clowns would pack his trunk when the circus moved on and that eventually Gene would catch up with the show somewhere down the line. I’ll always remember this very kind act of Otto's … explaining to a kid where his “pen pal” had disappeared to. I’m 76 now and a retired actor/playwright. Over the years I’ve been trying to track down a picture of Gene that was painted by the famous clown painter, Veres (born Margot Yoder … who was the wife of actor Dane Clark.) Her painting of Gene is called “Pensive.” I’ve had a few leads to the painting but so far I’ve not been able to locate it. Anyway, please excuse this rather long note. I hope you are well and I just want to tell you how much I enjoy the Buckles Blog! - Rick Whelan