Edited and prepared for the Internet by Ronald Davis
Further Correspondence from Frosty Little
Director of Clowns
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
"In his twenty-three years with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, from 1968 to his retirement in 1991 and his induction that year into the Clown Hall of Fame, Frosty Little had become one of the most renowned circus clowns in the history of the American circus."
Frosty Little, Director of Clowns
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
"Receiving correspondence from Frosty was always a wonderful occasion. Opening the envelope, taking out his letter, and seeing the letterhead - a logo of two elephants, their trunks entwined, preceded, on the left, by a rearing horse, and on the right, by a clown holding a red sign with gold lettering 'Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows, Inc.,' below which is the trademark world globe announcing 'The Greatest Show on Earth' - brought back treasured memories of my sojourns with the Circus and drawing and painting portraits of the circus clowns.
"I was proud of my friend to see the letterhead inscribed 'Glen 'Frosty' Little, Director of Clowns, Red and Blue Units.' The Circus Administration had promoted Frosty to that important position established for him in 1980. Frosty earned the directorship due to his expertise for organization, his experience as a circus clown and his proficiency as a teacher, his creativity in producing clown gags and acts, and his dedication to the Circus and the clown troupe.
'Just a note to let you know everything is running smoothly on the show and Pat and I are both fine. . . .
'If you have not received the pkg. (which you should have by now) I hope you are pleased and surprised -
'I bought this pair of clown shoes from a man named Griffen in Rochester N.Y. Mr. Griffen made clown shoes for many many years and most of the old time Ringling clowns bought from him. This pair which I'm giving you for your collection is about 10 years old. Hope you like them.'
"Ronald and I were grateful for Frosty's very kind gift. The gift of his oversized, striped clown shoes, characteristic of his clown costume, foretold of his lasting friendship and was a prelude to his and Pat's future gift of an entire costume of the Director of Clowns of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Frosty is wearing the costume in the photograph at the top of the page. The gift of Frosty's clown costume and makeup materials is seen in the photograph that Ronald took for our archives and for this website entry: Page 1 - "My Friendship with Frosty Little,'' (fig. 7).
Archives from Frosty Little
The correspondence through the years from Frosty and Pat Little to Roseman and Davis included archival material from the distinguished career of the Director of Clowns of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In addition to biographical information are newspaper and magazine articles and circus brochures.
Frosty Little sent photographs of himself at notable events in his circus career, and he annotated the backs of photographs with relevant information, as Roseman recounts in his journal:
"By the side of the Director of Clowns is his black suitcase adorned with white lettering which reads 'Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' and the world globe trademark in blue and gold. The photograph is inscribed: 'Frosty at the White House 1984.'
"Frosty was invited to perform at the White House on ten occasions, as noted in his resumé.
3. Frosty Little at the White House, Washington, D.C., 1984.
"I was impressed to open an envelope and see a photograph of Frosty in clown makeup and costume and seated on a navy blue, velvet settee in an elegant room with white walls and gold trim panels," (fig. 3).
"Ronald and I are very appreciative to Frosty for his letters and archival material. Ronald and I are also very appreciative to Pat for writing on their behalf and for augmenting the archival material they provided us. Photographs of Frosty and Pat at home add a personal element to the collection of letters and archives of Frosty's distinguished circus career.
"Several photographs are of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus billboards with Frosty's picture, as seen here, (fig. 4). Frosty notes on the back of the photograph: 'Ft Worth Texas 1970's.'
Returning to Madison Square Garden
"As Director of Clowns of the Red and Blue Units, Frosty oversaw the annual spring engagements of the Circus at Madison Square Garden. In 1981, the Red Unit played the Garden, and I returned to see Frosty and resume my paintings and drawings of the Circus clowns.
"Returning to the Circus at the Garden was for me returning to a familiar backstage environment with gilded wagons, exotic floats, wardrobe cases, and a profusion of props and performance equipment.
"Caravans were parked together, like a small, confined community separate from the large community housed on the Circus train.
"The sawdust and sounds and scents of the menagerie: camels and llamas tethered and resting in place; impressive big cats waiting in their cages; a team of elegant Liberty Horses; and elephants munching on hay or trumpeting their presence confirmed that the Circus was back in town.
2. Elephants and caravans of the Ringling Bros. and
Barnum & Bailey Circus backstage at Madison Square Garden.
"In that fluorescent-lit backstage environment, grooms tended the animal population, roustabouts busied themselves with their numerous chores, and performers rehearsed and prepared their acts before the show.
"I was warmly welcomed back by my friends in Clown Alley and shared again the camaraderie of the clown troupe and the fascinating world of the Circus.
"Frosty scheduled time to continue the tape recording sessions with Ronald and me. Frosty spoke about his first years with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, his promotion to Boss Clown in 1970, and his responsibilities being in charge of the clown troupe. Frosty spoke about Clown Alley, living on the Circus train, and rehearsing and performing in towns and cities throughout the United States. Frosty's personal reflections were deeply moving from a man who had dedicated his life to the profession of a circus clown in the great tradition of the American Circus.
4. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus billboard
Tarrant County Convention Center,
Fort Worth, Texas, 1970's.
Frosty Little at the Library of Congress Gala Event "Read More About It"
"The Library of Congress, Washington D.C. and CBS Television sponsored during the 1980's the 'Read More About It' Book Project. In October 1985, Frosty writes to Ronald and me:
'I have been invited to attend a dinner at the Library of Congress in Wash D C on Oct 29th & I have enclosed a copy of the invitation so you can see the ninety-two participants who have been invited. Let me tell you we're traveling in high company now. C.B.S. is paying for all the air fares and putting everyone up in the best hotels - plus limousines there and back - will keep you posted on what it was like at the dinner.'
"The gala event on October 29th at the Library of Congress honored ninety-two renowned performers, directors, composers, musicians, and writers from various fields of entertainment.
"Frosty Little was one of those celebrities who had appeared on CBS Television to promote 'the world of books.' The Black Tie dinner took place in The Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress.
9. Frosty and Pat Little at the Gala Evening at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.,
"Following the gala event, Pat thoughtfully sent the photograph, (fig. 9), of Frosty and herself that evening, and she noted on the back of the photo: 'from the black tie dinner we went to in D.C. All I can say is 'Wow!' "
"Frosty did advance work for the Circus. He was a popular guest on numerous radio and television shows in promoting 'The Greatest Show on Earth.' "
"Ronald and I went to Washington, D. C. later that April to see Frosty and Pat. We began a project that the four of us had spoken of previously. Frosty and Pat were enthusiastic about Ronald's suggestion to record interviews with Frosty about his circus career.
"We recorded for a number of hours, beginning with Frosty's childhood in Genoa, Nebraska; his early love of the circus; and his first work as a professional clown with a small, traveling tent show in the Midwest. Speaking about his formative years and his hope for the future, Frosty says: 'Every good clown wants to get on the Ringling show. That's where you want to be - it's like Broadway.'
"The recording sessions were not formal interviews of questions and answers but rather reminiscences and conversations among friends. We planned to continue recording when Frosty and Pat came up to New York City for the spring engagement of the Circus in Madison Square Garden. In the interim, Frosty wrote on April 28th about a very thoughtful gift he sent us.
A Golden Age at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
"I was very fortunate to have painted and drawn portraits of the circus clowns in 1973 to 1981 during a Golden Age of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In Frosty's letter of August 6, 1996, he refers to that Golden Age and his life in the Circus:
'Thanks for the call - it was great talking to you again. It doesn't seem possible that 20 yrs have passed already -
'Pat is sending you a packet of pictures etc. Which we know you'll like. . . .'
'Since Duane Thorp died in Dec. there are none of the old timers left & I feel very lucky that I came in at a time when they were all alive & I got to work with so many of them.
'Keep up the good work. We love you.
Frosty & Pat' "
12. Lou Jacobs, his canine partner, and Frosty Little,
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
"Pat joined Frosty for our last recording session and dinner at our apartment, which was a memorable time together. Ronald and I were soon to depart New York City and return to Europe to resume our work."
"Ronald and I kept in contact with Frosty and Pat in letters and also by telephone, which had not been possible in the earlier years of our friendship, for the Circus train then was unequipped with telephones in the living quarters of performers and staff.
"Frosty annotated a photograph of Bobby Kay holding a feathered bouquet magic prop: 'Bobby Kay Master Clown RBBB Circus.' Frosty also included a photograph inscribed 'Red Skelton & myself, 1983.'
5. Frosty Little, c.1971
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
'I was really glad to receive your letter, we were wondering where you and Ronald were at.
'I hope you can make it to Wash D.C. while we are there - Do you realize how fast the time is passing, it will be nearly 8 years since we first met in the Garden -
'We had a grand time while we were in Atlanta. I rented a car at the show's expense and Pat & I drove to Birmingham to visit the Red Unit & we stayed 5 days -
'Peggy Williams came into Charleston today to start her new job, she will be Asst. Performance Director on this show. I'm very happy for her & excited that we'll be on the same show together again. . . .
'Pat is doing fine, trying to lose weight even though she doesn't have to & taking care of Sky (our dog) and me.
'Both of you take care & maybe we'll see you soon.'
My Friendship with Frosty Little
Links to Pages 1, 2, and 4
on the bottom of this page.
Master Clown Frosty Little
"The citation, In Salute, states: 'Glen 'Frosty' Little is hereby officially proclaimed Master Clown, the highest honor that can be bestowed in recognition of his rich contribution to the happiness of his fellow man, and joins the exclusive order of the world's most legendary mirth makers. So ordered this date of April 9, 1983, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.'
'My Master Clown Award 1983 the 4th in the last 50 yrs (then) you can see under the salute - Otto Griebling, Lou Jacob & Bobby Kay the other 3 master clowns. . . . The Blue Unit is on the left & the Red Unit, on the right.'
"Frosty sent Ronald and me the photograph, (fig. 8), and annotated on the back:
8. Frosty Little receiving the award conferring on him
the title "Master Clown"
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, 1983.
"Glen 'Frosty' Little was awarded the prestigious title Master Clown by the Circus President and CEO Irvin Feld at a formal presentation before an audience of 9,000 at the Armory in Washington, D.C., on April 9, 1983. Frosty was the fourth and last circus clown to be awarded the title Master Clown by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
"In further correspondence from Frosty, I learned with much happiness that my friend was awarded the prestigious title Master Clown at a ceremony in 1983. Glen 'Frosty' Little was the fourth and last circus clown to be so honored by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
"I have written that Frosty and I became friends at the outset of my work at the Circus in Madison Square Garden in spring 1973. When the Circus departed New York City at the end of May, Frosty and I began a correspondence that continued over the months and years.
"Without Frosty's ongoing invitations to return to the Circus and his enthusiasm for my work, I could not have brought to realization an oeuvre of paintings and drawings of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus clowns.
"In his hand-written letter of April 9, 1981, from Washington, D.C., Frosty notes the passage of time since we first met in Madison Square Garden:
6. Frosty Little and Dick Van Dyke, guest host
on the nationally televised special
the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
"Circus clowns were always a major subject in promoting the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Articles and stories on Frosty Little appeared in local and nationally syndicated newspapers as well as regional and national magazines, including People, Cosmopolitan, McCall's, and T.V. Guide.
7. Frosty Little with the Ringling Bros.
and Barnum & Bailey Circus program
116th Edition 1986.
"For Frosty's twentieth year with the Circus, he was honored in the shows throughout 1988. The Circus published a souvenir T-shirt with a black and white photograph of the Director of Clowns smiling and standing in the center ring with outstretched arms.
"The caption under the photograph reads: 'Master Clown Glen 'Frosty' Little, one of only few funsters honored with this title, celebrates his 20th year as a member of our famed Clown Alley in the all-new 118th Edition of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.'
"Pat thoughtfully included a souvenir T-shirt to add to the archival material. The photograph printed on the T-shirt shows Frosty wearing his clown costume that was a future gift to Ronald and me."
"A photograph of a billboard with Frosty's picture displayed on the front of the Circus Winter Quarters and Arena is annotated: 'Winter Quarters RBBB Circus, Venice, Fla.'
"Frosty and the circus clowns from the Red Unit, including senior members Lou Jacobs, Bobby Kay, and Frankie Saluto, are seen out of doors in a group photograph for the 103rd Edition, 1973, the year I began my work at the Circus.
"Frosty and the clowns of the Firehouse Crew are gathered on the set in the circus arena for a group photograph in 1984."
"Frosty appeared in thirteen nationally televised specials on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus hosted by guest celebrities, as seen here with Dick Van Dyke, (fig. 6). The photo is annotated 'Myself and Dick Van Dyke, 1986' and included in the photographs sent to Ronald and me.
"In his letter relating the important event, Frosty concludes: 'What an honor.' "
Holiday Greeting Card from Frosty and Pat
"In previous years, Ronald and I had traveled in autumn 1976 to Norwegian Lappland, where I painted portraits of nomadic Saami people, and in 1978-1980 to monasteries in Europe. Returning to Europe in 1981, we planned for a more lengthy stay to further the geographic and ecumenical scope of our work on the Monastic Life, a life dedicated to contemplation and prayer and the singing of the Psalms in choir.
"Ronald and I received a 'Happy Holidays' card from Frosty and Pat in December 1981, (fig. 10, below). In May, shortly before Ronald and I left New York City to resume our work in Europe, we enjoyed a memorable dinner together in our apartment with Frosty and Pat, as I wrote in my text above. Ron and I were touched that Frosty asked if he and Pat could reproduce my portrait of him on a card for the Christmas and New Year holidays, and I was pleased to give them a slide of the painting.
"Frosty and Pat were en route to Connecticut for the Circus engagements in Hartford and New Haven in May. Frosty wrote us a thoughtful letter to say that he and Pat 'had a wonderful evening at your apartment' and hoped that 'things go well for you in your travels.'
"Ronald and I took an apartment in Lucerne, Switzerland, as home base for our work and continuing travels. In winter 1982, we were invited to our first Carthusian monastery and sojourned with the hermit monks at the Chartreuse de la Valsainte in the Swiss Alps. We traveled extensively to monasteries in 1982 and 1983. With invitations from two monasteries in Sweden I drew Lutheran Benedictine monks and nuns. I also welcomed the opportunity to include in my work drawings of Roman Catholic Carthusian nuns at the Certosa di Riva in Italy and Anglican Benedictine monks at Nashdom Abbey on our return to England."
"In Lucerne in December 1981, Ronald and I received from Frosty and Pat their holiday greeting card and thoughtful message: 'Dear Stan and Ron. We hope you like the card. Love, Frosty and Pat.' Yes, we do like the card - very much, as we expressed to our dear friends."
10. Holiday greeting card from Frosty and Pat, 1981.
"Frosty retired from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1991. He and Pat purchased a property in Burley, Idaho, and moved into a newly constructed house.
"Pat sent photographs of their lovely home as well as photos of themselves. She thoughtfully included a photograph that Frosty inscribed 'to Stan & Ron with love, Pat and Frosty.'
"Ronald and I were living in Paris, where I had been invited by the Administration of the Paris Opéra to draw the Paris Opéra Ballet and the international dance companies making guest appearances. Frosty and Pat were enthusiastic about my work at the Paris Opéra as they were about my previous work.
"Frosty remained active giving lectures and seminars at conventions and civic gatherings, where he spoke of his profession as a circus clown. Frosty opened a school at home in Burley and maintained a workshop for constructing and restoring clown props, as he had done at the Circus.
11. Pat and Frosty Little at home
in Burley, Idaho.
"Calling Frosty and Pat, I was always appreciative hearing the warmth in their voices when they greeted me on the telephone. Our conversations gave us the wonderful opportunity to continue sharing experiences and to reminisce those memorable times together at the Circus."
"Ronald and I were also very appreciative to receive from Frosty and Pat the photograph of Frosty holding the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus program for the 116th Edition, 1986. The program features Frosty on the back cover with the world globe trademark inscribed 'The Greatest Show on Earth,' (fig. 7).
"The archival material from Frosty and Pat includes an early black and white photograph of Frosty from c.1971, (fig. 5).
"Ronald and I were always appreciative for the photographs that Frosty and Pat selected to augment our archives accompanying my work at the Circus. We were pleased to have a photo of Frosty and his mentor Lou Jacobs (1903-1992). In the photograph, (fig. 12), the famous auguste clown is holding his small, canine partner, who wears a pink ruff for performing in the circus arena. In the closing paragraph of his letter, Frosty writes:
Frosty Little wore the costume in performances in 1988 for the 118th Edition of 'The Greatest Show on Earth,' which honored him in his twentieth year with the Circus. The Master Clown continued to wear the costume over the years, as in 1991, when Glen ''Frosty'' Little was inducted into the Clown Hall of Fame.
In the photograph above, Frosty Little is wearing the clown costume that was a future gift from him and his wife Patricia in longtime friendship with Stanley Roseman and Ronald Davis. The valuable gift of Frosty's clown costume, as well as his makeup materials, is seen in the photograph reproduced on Page 1 "My Friendship with Frosty Little, Director of Clowns,'' (fig.7).
Page 3 - Further 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