Vintage Clown Photographs to get Under your Skin

With the box office success of the IT remake, the unnerving Twisty of American Horror Story fame, or the killer clown craze that swept the world a few years ago – it’s clear many people find clowns unsettling. Once a symbol of joy and innocence, the clown has warped into a nightmarish monster who stalks, mutilate and kills his victims.

Here are some clowns of the past that may have contributed to this shift in public attitudes. In eerie old photographs, we find scary and sinister characters in clown costumes. Check out of of the most creepy vintage clown photos!

Dimitri and his concertina at the Théâtre du Vieux Colombier in Paris (1964)
Paul Jung, Ringling clown (c.1950)


La Sousa Clown Band at Luna Park, 1909


1930s Man Clown Catching Little Boy Peeking Under Circus Big Top Tent


1930s Circus Performer


Manchester, England: A Wail Of A Time. The laugh, clown, doesn’t seem to have rubbed of on his son, four-month-old Philip, at a circus in Manchester, England. Except for the absence of teeth, the youngster has the same open-mouthed look as his dad, but is crying instead of laughing. But Philip may make his career with laughter later on, since there have been clowns in his family for 120 years and his father hopes the tot will follow in his footsteps.


A group of young girls dance in clown costumes, early 20th Century


Early 20th century clowns at a fairground in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. 


1923. Washington, D.C. “Children’s Hospital Circus.”


Clowns Albert “Flo” White, left, and Gene Lewis from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus pose for the camera during a stop in Sarasota, Florida. 1945
“Not a glance does the fat clown draw from these surly chariot pullers. Whether one- or two-humped, members of the camel family have double-barreled tempers, swivel joints permitting kicking in any direction, and no sense of humor.” National Geographic, 1931.
New York. Child Star of Vaudeville and Film, Mary Miles Minter, circa 1920.


Horror actor Lon Charney, Laugh Clown Laugh, 1928.


Clown With Tiny Hat, C.1930s
Albert Frattenili and son, a famous clown family
A classic image of Charlie Rivel uttering his famous catchphrase, “Akrobat, Schööön!” in the Little Bridge entrée, 1960


Grock, the King of Clowns, 1930s
Hans Stosch as Giovanni Sarrasani, clown and animal trainer (1900)


The Andreu-Rivels: Polo, René and Charlie as “Boby” (c.1915)


Coco in his dressing room (1935) — National Portrait Gallery, London


Charlie Cairoli in his dressing room at Blackpool’s Tower Circus (c.1965)


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