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Clark, Bobby (16 June 1888–12 February 1960), clown, was born Robert Edwin Clark in a church rectory (his grandfather was the church sexton) in Springfield, Ohio, the son of Victor Brown Clark, a railroad conductor, and Alice Marilla Sneed. His father died when Bobby was six. As a young boy Clark sang in the church choir and played the bugle. His fascination with outlandish costumes, which became one of his theatrical trademarks, was apparent at an early age. When he was in the fourth grade Bobby met Paul McCullough, four years his senior, and a close friendship was formed that lasted over thirty-five years. The two boys soon put together a bugling and tumbling act that they performed at the local YMCA. Clark and McCullough’s act was received so favorably by the residents of the area that, at the ages of seventeen and twenty-one, respectively, they decided to embark upon a career in show business. They began to place advertisements in various theatrical publications. The response was favorable and Clark and McCullough, as they now called themselves, were hired by a minstrel troupe as tumblers, buglers, and handymen, with a combined weekly salary of twenty-five dollars. They were on their way....

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Walt Disney. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114742).

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Disney, Walt (05 December 1901–15 December 1966), animator and motion picture producer, was born Walter Elias Disney in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Elias Disney, a building contractor, and Flora Call, a teacher. After a childhood near Marceline and in Kansas City, Missouri, Disney studied at the Chicago Institute of Art in the evening while attending McKinley High School during the day. In 1918 he enlisted in the American Ambulance Corps, serving in France and returning to employment as an artist at the Pesmen-Rubin Commercial Art Studio, where he befriended artist ...

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Pickens, Slim (29 June 1919–08 December 1983), rodeo performer and motion picture and television character actor, was born in Kingsburg, California, the son of Louis Bert Lindley, Sr., a dairy farmer, and Sally Mosher.

Pickens’s real name was Louis Bert Lindley, Jr. He acquired his pseudonym and professional identification when he joined the rodeo circuit at a young age, given in various sources as thirteen or sixteen, after leaving high school in Hanford, California. His father opposed the move, saying after Pickens’s first performance that he did not want to see the family name on a rodeo program again. Determined to join the rodeo anyway, young Lindley pondered what name to use until a colleague suggested “Slim Pickens,” “ ’cause that’s shore what your prize money’ll be.” He continued to use the name throughout his professional career in rodeo and in acting....

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Schenck, Joseph M. (25 December 1877–22 October 1961), motion picture executive, was born in Rybinsk, Volga, Russia. (His parents’ names are unknown.) Schenck and his younger brother, Nicholas Schenck, came to the United States in 1892. Little is known of their early years. We do know that they grew up poor in New York City and left school early to help support the family. Schenck looked for a time to be fashioning a career in pharmacy, but in his teens he was lured by the bright lights of show business. Success did not come quickly. He labored mightily before he was able to find his show business niche in the nascent amusement park business in 1908. He and his brother would go on to build Palisades Park across the Hudson River from New York City....

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Schenck, Nicholas Michael (14 November 1881–03 March 1969), motion picture executive, was born in Rybinsk, Volga, Russia, the son of Hyman Schenck, a laborer, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). In 1892 Schenck came to the United States, where he received an elementary school education in New York City until he was forced to leave school to help support his family. His first business success came in 1908 when he and his brother, ...