The purpose of this blog is to share stories from the road of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown Alley. With this resource we can relive those days and have a better understanding of the transitions within Clown Alley over the years. I feel historically it's important to share these stories for future generations. 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Day Mike Left Town

Mike Padilla was one of the six little people we had on the show one year.  He had been a clown for 30+ years and worked with Lou as the cigar smoking baby in the Baby Carriage gag.  There was also a time that he worked in the Car Gag with Lou. 
Mike was from South America and spoke very little English.  He always took the first bus home and when everyone else got home Mike would already be in the kitchen.  He would be on a stool at the stove frying a huge T-bone steak.  If asked why he ate such huge steaks, he'd reply in his heavy accent, "It keeps me young and virile!"  When he finished cooking he would put it on a plate and head straight for his room.  He'd shut his door tight and while no one saw him for the rest of the night, you'd always hear his TV, and hear Mike laughing hysterically from inside his room.  This ritual occurred nearly every every night.  One night Mike forgot to close his door, as I walked by I peeked in to see what was so funny.  I looked at his TV and wouldn't you know, there was no picture and only sound.  Instead of a picture he had taken a Sharpie pen and drawn stick figures on the screen.  Mike was simply listening to his TV, and laughing hysterically at it!

On one Miami stop, some of us walked into the Alley and Mike was there, quite upset.  He was ranting and raving in Spanish and none of us could make any sense of it.  It sure seemed serious, so we asked Serf (who  spoke fluent Spanish) if he could tell what Mike was saying.  All he could tell us was that Mike was mad and that even he couldn't make sense of it. 
While Mike was carrying on, we noticed two working men come in with a dolly.  The men put Mike's trunk on the dolly and wheeled it out the back door with Mike following still carrying on.. and on...  The men set the trunk on the sidewalk, and Mike sat on his trunk with a scowl on his face and his arms folded tight, still carrying on.  After a little while, he just stopped talking and just sat silent.  He sat silent for quite a while.  Then a taxi cab pulled up, and we watched as the driver and Mike loaded the trunk into the cab.  Mike got in himself, and the cab drove off.
Later on we found out why Mike was so upset.  That year, all of the veteran clowns, Lou, Uncle Soapy, and Bobby Kaye had Spec costumes that were made to match their normal, personal ones.  
Mike had felt he deserved the same treatment because of his seniority. 
Instead he was cast as Little Bo Peep, and Mike had enough.


  1. Great Story! keep them coming Mitch!

  2. Mitch--
    Tell me another story, please . . . ?
    Bruce the clown

  3. hello, my name is Esteban Padilla, Mike was my uncle and I have a great memory of him, Mike returned to Buenos Aires in 1987 approximately and from that year until june 1991, the date of his death, lived with my family in Nestor her brother (my father), I have great memories of Mike, in my house we called him "Uncle Mickey", I have saved pictures of Mike and many more memories from the letters that I sent to my grandmother (his mother) when the flies into the United States.
    Please I would like it if they have photos, anecdotes and stories of Mike be contacted at the following email address:
    For me and my family would be very useful to know more of Mike in the United States.

    Thank you very much

    Esteban Padilla