Otto Griebling
Tribute by Jeffrey Sward
     
Click any picture to enlarge.
Otto Griebling
Otto Griebling
Otto Griebling
Otto Griebling
Otto Griebling
Otto Griebling
Otto Griebling
Otto Griebling
Otto Griebling
Click any picture to enlarge.
 

For many years, Otto Griebling served as a principal clown with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus. Otto is regarded among both the cognoscenti and the professional clown community as the clown's clown. Many professional clowns learned their basic technique from Otto. Because of the randomness of the media and Hollywood publicity machines, many clowns feel that credit which was given to Emmett Kelly would more appropriately rest with Otto Griebling.

Otto was the epitome of the character clown. Much of the rich history and characterizations of the tramp clown is due the pioneering work of Otto Griebling. Ironically, Otto began his circus career as an bareback rider, and only taught himself clowning after an injury.

Otto originated many famous sequential routines where he would appear before the audience many times throughout evening trying to deliver ever-changing props. Examples range from a constantly shrinking block of ice which eventually becomes an ice cube to a very small plant which becomes a gigantic tree by the end of the evening. In addition, Otto was famous for deft hat prestidigitation. Otto was also a preeminent instructor for many years at Ringling Brothers Clown College in Sarasota Florida.

Otto Griebling was born on April 28, 1896 in Germany. Otto died tragically of throat cancer in April 1972 at Saint Clare's hospital in New York city. Otto is buried with his favorite deck of pinochle cards at Sarasota Memorial Park, which is off highway 41 between Sarasota and Venice in Florida. At the time of his death, Otto was still teaching at Clown College, and still performing. Otto had accumulated over fifty years of circus service.

Read about Otto Griebling's induction into the international clown hall of fame.

     
Photographs on this page by anonymous photographers.
 

All written content of this web site is solely the editorial opinion of Jeffrey Sward. All images, graphics, and written content of this web site, including the html files, are creative products covered by copyright law. All content copyright Jeffrey Sward 1975-2017. All rights reserved. No portion of this web site or its constituent elements may be reproduced in any form, by any means, without prior written permission. So there.