Edited and prepared for the Internet by Ronald Davis
Correspondence from Frosty Little
Director of Clowns
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Correspondence from Frosty Little
The Director of Clowns of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Glen 'Frosty' Little was in charge of the clown troupe of the Red Unit, the original company, and the clown troupe of the Blue Unit, which was established in 1969.
Stanley Roseman and Frosty Little
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, 1977.
'We are into our 2nd week of our rehearsals & things are running smooth. The 9 clowns we picked up are coming along very well. . . .
'We drove down on Jan 8 & the day we left it was 17° and in three days we were in 75° above. It is so beautiful down here and everyone has a nice tan. . . .
"After my sojourn with the Circus in Chicago, I resumed my work in Clown Alley at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island in mid-November. At the end of the month, I returned to the Circus again when it played in Springfield, Massachusetts, for the close of the 1973 season."
"In a letter dated January 26, 1974, Frosty writes from the Circus Winter Quarters in Venice, Florida. He speaks about rehearsals for the new show, the addition to the clown troupe of nine recent graduates from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, and a renovation of Frosty and Pat's room on the Circus Train.
A Letter from Frosty at Madison Square Garden
2. Frosty Little in Clown Alley, 1976
Drypoint engraving, Charbonnel sepia ink
on Arches paper, 25.5 x 20.5 cm.
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris
Library and Museum for the Performing Arts,
Lincoln Center, New York City
'What a nice surprise, receiving your letter, we were talking last week about you & Ronald. . . .
'I spent 9 months & a flight to Florida trying to put together the firehouse gag which was a giant undertaking. We have a fire engine, a ladder wagon pulled by two ponies, a firehouse, with smoke, fire & explosives plus 21 firemen - 3½ minutes of a very fine production.
'We have an excellent show this year, it is a fun show with some great acts & business has been terrific, on Easter Sunday we put 35,000 people in the Garden in two shows. . . .
'Your life sounds exciting, you won't want to settle down again.
'I read in one of the copies you sent me that some of your pictures of clowns were acquired by London's Victoria & Albert Museum, if we stick with you, we'll be famous.
'Say hello to Ronald.
Love, Frosty & Pat' "
'At the end of the season we only had 7 days off & went right into rehearsals on Nov. 29th for 4 weeks of a real rough grind.
The Portrait Frosty Little on the Cover of JAMA
4. Cover of JAMA,
Journal of the American Medical Association,
July 3, 1981
Cover features Roseman's portrait Frosty Little,
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux.
Frosty Little writes in January 1974 from the Circus Winter Quarters
'For the last week they have been installing a shower in our room. We had an outside closet & they changed the entrance to the inside of our room so they converted the closet into a shower & it's great.' "
Frosty Little's responsibilities included organizing Clown Alley in the locations where the Circus played on its annual tours throughout the United States; writing and rehearsing clown gags and ensemble acts, as well as performing with the clown troupe; doing advance work and giving radio, television, and newspaper interviews to promote the Circus; and teaching at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, in Venice, Florida. Even with his demanding schedule, Frosty Little kept a faithful correspondence with Stanley Roseman and shared with the artist ongoing events at the Circus.
"Frosty writes about rehearsals for the new season, reviving a classic, circus act performed by an ensemble of clowns, and the high attendance for the shows. I am deeply touched by Frosty's appreciation to be included in my suite of drypoint engravings Clowns - Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London:
The Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, featured on the cover of the July 3, 1981, edition Roseman's portrait of Glen 'Frosty' Little, Director of Clowns of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. This superb portrait in the collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, was one of the first presentations of contemporary art on the cover of JAMA.
"Frosty writes to Ronald and me on July 25, 1981, about receiving a copy of the Journal of the American Medical Association. It was a pleasure for us to send Frosty and Pat the magazine, and we were sincerely appreciative for his enthusiastic letter, hand-written as usual. The letter begins:
'What a great surprise receiving the magazine with my painting on the cover, that is so great. I called our daughters and told them about it so they are getting copies from their doctors. Pat and I are so thrilled and so grateful for what you have done - Thank you.'
"Frosty continues his letter with updates about the Circus itinerary of the Blue Unit in Texas and New Orleans and that he will be going to Los Angeles for two weeks to oversee the Red Unit. Frosty closes his thoughtful letter:
The Cover of JAMA, Japanese Edition
'Dear Stanley and Ronald -
'I received the Japanese edition of JAMA and I'm very impressed that they used the painting, so I have to thank you both again. Stanley, first because you're so talented as to painting such a picture and to Ronald for being so talented as an agent to get this picture on the cover.'
"The Journal of the American Medical Association published on the cover of a Japanese edition in 1982 my portrait painting Frosty Little. Frosty writes to Ronald and me on March 31, 1982, the day following the opening night of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden for the annual spring engagement.
"Ronald and I were sincerely appreciative for Frosty's kind letter and his thoughtful words about our work."
6. The personal card of Glen "Frosty" Little,
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
The card is from the artist's collection
of archival material from Frosty Little.
Frosty Little writes on Thanksgiving
"Frosty inscribed and dated his letter: 'Thanksgiving / Nassau L. I. / 11 - 22 - 79.' It was at the Nassau Coliseum, on Long Island, where I sojourned with the Circus in November 1973 and again in November-December 1977, when I painted the portrait of Frosty that was acquired in 1984 for the renowned collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux.
'I received your aerogram yesterday & thought I'd better answer while I have a chance.
'This year was one of the best ever on the Red Unit. . . . Business was fantastic the whole yr. In Chicago they sold standing room tickets, even the last night.
'I received your magazine from Spain where my portrait was on the front cover, that is such an excellent painting, we receive more comments on that one. I think it is one of your best (& not just because it's me).' "
"Frosty's friendship is reaffirmed by his four-page, handwritten letter on Thanksgiving to share a quintessential American holiday with Ronald and me. We were in Europe for our work at the time and very much appreciated Frosty's letter.
[Editor's note: The leading Spanish daily Ya, Madrid, published in its Sunday magazine of September 9, 1979, a cover story on Roseman and his work and featured the portrait Frosty Little on the cover. The portrait is also reproduced with paintings and drawings by Roseman in the magazine's color centerfold.]
'The new Route Sheets won't be out until later in Dec but I will do the New York tour again. There is a new bldg. going up near Meadowlands Race Track in N.J. where we will play for 2 weeks in the fall & still play our 10 weeks in the garden. . . .
'I'm excited about your getting your drypoints into the Bibliothèque of Paris.' "
'Pat left for Venice from Chicago to drive down instead of driving from Nassau as I'm leaving tomorrow & our rehearsals begin on the 27th of Nov.
'This is Thanksgiving evening & I have just got back from a big dinner with 5 of my clowns. Peggy went into the city for dinner & lent us her car, so we wined & dined & had a ball.
'I hope you both are doing great, please take care of yourselves & have happy holidays.
5. Cover of a Japanese edition of JAMA,
Journal of the American Medical Association, 1982,
with the portrait Frosty Little, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux.
'It sounds as if you are climbing the ladder of success - you two are both super people. No one deserves it more. Pat & I know you are going to reach what you are striving for & we can always say we knew them when, and they are our friends.
'We are sending you some pictures & will write on the backs what they are.
'Our dog Sky is still healthy & so are we - I stopped drinking all alcohol & drink decaffeinated coffee & I feel 100 % better.
'We sure miss you guys & think of you often. Take care of yourselves & stay healthy.
'Hi you two wonderful people. Frosty has related everything, so I'll just say We Love You and miss you so very much.
7. Frosty and Pat Little with their endearing Border collie Sky, c.1983.
"When the Circus departed Madison Square Garden at the end of May, I corresponded with Frosty and his wife Pat, a lovely lady who was equally enthusiastic about my work. I was appreciative of Frosty's letters, which kept me in contact with the Circus. In June, the Circus played Hershey, Pennsylvania. Frosty wrote of the happy occasion of a circus wedding. Jimmy Briscoe, an auguste clown and popular performer in the circus arena, married a showgirl named Sandra. I had drawn Jimmy at Madison Square Garden. I painted a portrait of him when I returned to the Circus in October at the International Amphitheater in Chicago, and Frosty provided me with a workspace in which to paint and draw in Clown Alley.
"a stunning series of engravings entitled 'Clowns' ''
A complementary work to Roseman's paintings and drawings of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus clowns is the artist's limited edition of drypoint engravings, published by Ronald Davis, 1976. The edition of twenty portfolios comprises eight engravings of the circus clowns. Frosty Little in Clown Alley, (fig 2, above), depicts the director of the clown troupe in an interlude between acts, when he takes a few minutes to read the newspaper. Portfolios of the Clowns suite are also conserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris; and the Library and Museum for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, New York City.
"Frosty concludes his Thanksgiving letter to Ronald and me:
3. Portfolio of the drypoint engravings:
Stanley Roseman: Clowns -
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Leather and linen bound case with gold-leaf stamping,
custom-made by Moroquaine Bookbindery, New York.
[Editor's note: Having published Stanley's drypoints Clowns - Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, I am appreciative of Frosty's enthusiasm about the acquisition by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. I was warmly received in October 1979 by Françoise Woimant, Curator of Contemporary Engravings. Madame Woimant writes in her letter of October 10th:
Frosty Little's letters to Stanley Roseman and Ronald Davis speak of the circus life of traveling. Frosty writes of his and Pat's accommodations on the circus train; where the train is parked in proximity to the performance centers and sports arenas; and the cities and towns on the Circus itinerary where the Red and Blue Units played on their annual tours throughout the United States.
"In his letter of March 31, 1982, to Ronald and me, Frosty writes that for the annual spring engagement at Madison Square Garden, the Circus train was no longer parked in its traditional location at 12th Avenue on the West Side of Manhattan:
'Our train is parked in Queens, next to Shea Stadium in Flushing and it is a very nice area right next to a giant park where the World's Fair was. The show made a deal with the Long Island RR for certain trains to stop in the morning & evening at Shea just 50' from our train and all we pay is 25 cts each way so it's working out very good.'
"The ongoing correspondence from Frosty always meant very much to Ron and me, as with Frosty's five-page, handwritten letter of March 29, 1984:
Frosty Little befriended Roseman and encouraged him in his work from the time the artist was invited to draw at the Circus at Madison Square Garden, New York City, in the spring of 1973. Madison Square Garden is familiarly called "the Garden," as Frosty Little does in his letter above. Roseman writes in his Circus Journal:
Always Love and Kisses, Pat' "
"1983 was a meaningful year for Frosty and for me. The Administration of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus awarded Glen 'Frosty' Little the prestigious title Master Clown at a formal presentation by the President and CEO Irvin Feld at the Washington, D.C. Armory on April 9, 1983. The Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna's renowned museum of master drawings, presented in September - October 1983 the Museum's first one-man show of drawings by an American artist in the exhibition Stanley Roseman - Zeichnungen aus Klöstern (Drawings from the Monasteries).
"Frosty mentions in his letter other clowns whose portraits I had drawn and painted during my memorable sojourns with the Circus. Ruth Chaddock had joined her colleague Peggy Williams in reviving the personage of the female circus clown. Ruth and Peggy had recently retired from performing to take on other responsibilities with the Circus.
'Jimmy Briscoe is still in Hollywood & so is Keith Crary - Dale Longmire is clowning on the Vargas Circus & Bruce Gutilla was doing a single trapeze act.'
"Ronald and I were very saddened to learn that Bobby Kay and Frankie Saluto had passed away. Frosty also writes that Lou Jacobs had a serious operation but recovered and is working part time.
'What a long time since we've seen you. It is Sunday morning and our last day in Baltimore before going into New York City for our 9 weeks in the Garden.
'It really brings back a lot of memories of a lot of good times we had. I am going to try & brief you on what's been happening in our life.
'Pat and I are on the road again until Aug 15, then we leave the show & drive to Venice Fla. In Venice the show puts us up in a house and gives us a car & I start teaching at the Clown College on Sept 4th every year.'
"The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College was established in 1968 to teach circus and clowning skills. Frosty Little was a graduate of the inaugural class and joined the Circus that year. Early in his career at the Circus he was appointed to the faculty of the College.
"In his letter of March 1984 to Ron and me, Frosty writes that there are twenty instructors at Clown College. He and Lou Jacobs, 81 years old, were the Master Clowns on the College faculty.
'Ruthie Chaddock is doing advance work for the show & works at the Clown College & in the main office in Washington, D.C.
"In his letter, Frosty speaks again about my portrait of him on the cover of JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association:
"Ronald and I were continuing our travels for our work. In the summer of 1981, we returned to Europe to resume our sojourns in monasteries. My portrait paintings and drawings of monks and nuns at prayer, work, and study are complemented by Ronald's photographs of the monastery buildings and cloisters. We traveled extensively in 1982 and 1983 to expand the scope of our work to include monastic communities of the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran faiths. Ronald was raised in the Roman Catholic faith, and I am of the Jewish faith. From Europe Ronald and I continued our correspondence with Frosty and Pat.
'Pat and I got more room on the train, we now have a bedroom & washer-dryer so all together we have 28' (ft) long & we love it. Peggy lives right next door to us. She is still assistant Performance Director to Charlie Baumann & doing fine.'
'The school runs until Nov. 20 then the two shows come in & I work the clowning with those until Feb 1, when we finally get back on the road again.
"In letter dated and inscribed 'May 24, 1979, Madison Square Garden,' Frosty writes to me in Europe. I was in the midst of an ecumenical work of paintings and drawings on the Monastic Life - a life centered on contemplation, prayer, and the chanting in choir from the Book of Psalms. When I began researching and planning my work, my thoughts were towards Europe for monastic life is interwoven with the history and culture of Europe. From spring 1978 through the first months of 1980, Ronald and I sojourned in monasteries in England and Ireland, across Europe to Hungary and Poland, and south to Italy, France, and Spain. We kept in correspondence with Frosty and Pat and looked forward to hearing from them.
Page 2 - Correspondence from Frosty Little
NBC Television News with Roseman and the Circus Clowns
Stanley Roseman - The Performing Arts in America bicentennial exhibition, 1975 - 1977
Letters, including Photographs on Frosty's Career with the Circus
Letters on Circus Life and the Portrait Frosty Little on the Cover of the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA
My Friendship with Frosty Little
Links to Pages 1, 3, and 4
on the bottom of this page.
"We are very happy to conserve ("Nous sommes très heureux de conserver. . ."), thanks to your generous donation to the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale, the album of drypoint engravings by Stanley Roseman: Clowns."
Each portfolio of the 'Clowns' suite, in a leather and linen bound case, contains eight drypoint engravings and includes a title page and a dedication page by Stanley Roseman to the circus clowns, who were the inspiration for his work.
"Frosty recounts that on February 11, 1983, the Circus Fans of America in Birmingham, Alabama, opened a new chapter, which is called 'Raising a Tent.' Each tent is traditionally named for a circus performer, and 'Frosty Little Tent #140' was thus named. Frosty further recounts that February 11th was declared 'Frosty Little Day,' and he received a congratulatory telegram from President Reagan.
"Frosty also writes that CBS made a Television Special on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
'Pat had the cover enlarged to an 11 x 14 print & put it in a beautiful frame & we have it hanging on our wall.'
"Frosty concludes his letter with very thoughtful words to Ronald and me:
© Stanley Roseman and Ronald Davis, 2014 - All Rights Reserved
Visual imagery and site content may not be reproduced in any form whatsoever.
"Frosty Little's Thanksgiving letter relates that he was asked by Irvin Feld to transfer to the Blue Unit for a year to improve the clown troupe. Frosty describes his schedule for overseeing both the Red and Blue Units. He further writes that in September the following year he would return to teach at Clown College and that Peggy would also be teaching. Peggy Williams was the first female graduate at the College in 1970 and joined the Circus that year. Frosty's letter continues: