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Otto Griebling

Otto Griebling

April 28, 1896 – April 19, 1972

Otto Griebling became one of America's most famous clown, due to similar appearance he was often confused with fellow circus clown Emmett Kelly.

Otto Carl Joseph Griebling was born April 28 1896 in Koblenz, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. After the death of his father Otto's mother Mary Rath Griebling immigrated to the United States and settled in Wisconsin. in 1911 at age 14 Otto came to the U.S. to join his mother.

In Otto's early years his family had hope of him becoming a tailor, however the young Griebling answered an ad in the newspaper, "Circus bareback rider wanted - Will train". Otto began training to be circus bareback rider with the "Riding Hodginis" family of circus performers in Baraboo, Wisconsin. In later years he would perform with the The Hanneford riding act on Sells Floto Circus. He once replace the famous Poodles Hanneford, after poodles had broken his arm falling from a horse.

Otto worked in a riding act for ten years and in 1930 made the decision to become a full time clown. Otto developed the silent tramp clown that made him famous.

In 1932 he joined the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus and then in 1935 he was with Jess Adkins and Zack Terrell's Cole Bros. Circus where he became the show's "producing Clown".

In 1951 Griebling joined the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, where he would remain for the rest of his life.

In in 1970 Otto developed cancer of the throat, his larynx was removed leaving him speechless, however Griebling continued to perform.

While performing with Ringling at Madison Square Garden he became ill and rushed to the hospital where on April 19, 1972, Otto Carl Joseph Griebling died from a stroke. He was buried in Sarasota, Florida..

Otto once stated "If you find yourself able to make people laugh, it's God's gift. You have to do everything from the bottom of your heart".

Sarasota's Circus Ring of Fame   On January 04, 1991 Otto Griebling was inducted into the Sarasota's Circus Ring of Fame.

1973 inducted into the International Circus Hall of Fame

1989 inducted into International Clown Hall of Fame

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