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Emmett Kelly - Weary Willie Sad Clown Collectible Dolls

Updated on December 19, 2016
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I remember how Emmett Kelley would make us laugh when I was a child. I have always loved clowns and he was my favorite.

Welcome Circus Fans

5 stars for Weary Willie The Clown

World Famous Clown

Emmett Kelly - Weary Willie Sad Clown Collectible Dolls
Emmett Kelly - Weary Willie Sad Clown Collectible Dolls | Source

Emmett Kelly As Weary Willie Collectible Doll

When I see Weary Willie collectible dolls or hear the name Emmett Kelly, I, as most fans immediately have a picture in mind of the heart-tugging character, Weary Willie (W.W.), that Kelly created. In fact, it seemed that the man and the character were inseparable. Many people, way back when and into the present, just see the figure as Emmett Kelly (E.M.). In fact, when I first saw the large sad-faced hobo clown doll, I heard myself saying with glee in my voice, “Oh, an Emmett Kelly doll!”.

I was mesmerized from the moment I saw the hobo clown doll. A little part of me was holding itself quiet just like I did when I would wait for Emmet Leo Kelly, Sr. to talk when he was on center stage on television. He had a way of holding his audience's full attention without speaking a single word. The comedian was masterful in his presentation on TV, and I can imagine he was the same buffoon during his circus acts.

W.W. had that sad sack look down to perfection. In character, E.K., Sr. seemed to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. Oddly, his sad face made us all feel good. It seemed like he had the ability to lift a little of the cares of the world off our own shoulders, for those brief precious moments that he entertained us.

America’s most famous and recognizable clown icon was masterminded by comic Emmett Kelly Sr. At that time, clowns were depicted with white makeup and happy faces. But, his vision for a sad-faced hobo clown met some resistance with the management, but then quickly won the hearts of audiences everywhere he performed. Most likely the part of his act that fans waited for the most was when W.W. picked up his broom and tried to sweep up the spotlight’s beam. The spot would move around on the floor and he would get it smaller, but it never totally disappeared as we watched in delight.

We were blessed once again in 1960 when Emmett Kelly, Jr. resurrected a not quite as sad hobo character. That saying, “Like father, like son”, became a reality for them and many wonderful smiles for us as they lifted us to a special place. Sadly, it was not exactly a “passing of the baton”, from father to son. As the father was not at all pleased with his son’s re-creation of the role and there were some hard feelings between them for many years. Eventually, the son retired from being the sad clown in 2004.

An Adorable Doll's Sad Clown Face

Sad Clown Face of Weary Willie
Sad Clown Face of Weary Willie | Source

My Memories of Weary Willie

One of my dearly departed aunts had an Emmett Kelly Jr. figurine displayed on the top of her china cabinet. I did like all the old colorful glassware, but my eye was always drawn to the hand painted ceramic Weary Willie clown doll figure.

Someday I hope to get some photos of that sad-faced clown figurine. It has been put away in storage for safe keeping since my auntie passed away. I will ask about doing a personal photo shoot with the world famous icon, Weary Willie's keepsake doll.

Vintage Clown Doll

Vintage Collectible Hobo Clown Doll
Vintage Collectible Hobo Clown Doll | Source

Comical Puppet Doll

Vent Figure Emmett Kelly - NA30
Vent Figure Emmett Kelly - NA30

The ventriloquist doll is 10" tall, and comes with its own tote bag for easy storage and transportation. The instruction book will help guide you to make the sad clown doll show and express emotions. You can be the Life of the Party with this Weary Willie collectible doll or a murmuring dolt. I would love to add this doll to my collection to entertain the grandchildren with.

 

Ventriloquist Doll Video

Q&A's

Do you remember Weary Willie?

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Cut-Up Emmett Kelly - What's My Line? Video

Ringling Circus Clown

Emmett Leo Kelly as Weary Willie in a bubble bath.
Emmett Leo Kelly as Weary Willie in a bubble bath. | Source

Weary Willie

Vintage collectible doll photo I took in an antique store
Vintage collectible doll photo I took in an antique store | Source

The Son of Emmett Kelly

Photo: 1964 New York World's Fair
Photo: 1964 New York World's Fair | Source

The Day The Sad Clown Smiled Video

The Most Famous Hobo Clown

The hobo clown never retired. Emmett Kelly Senior took off the persona of Weary Willie for the last time in 1956 and did not go back into character again. The world was left with sweet memories of the antics of W.W., but there was a sense of loss to those in the audience who had hopeful hearts of just one more performance. I am sure many people still saw him in their memories as other performers' acts went uninterrupted and embellished by the appearance of Willie.

Kelly Senior never spoke a single word when he was in character. The two did share that smile once though, when W.W. received the news over the phone that his daughter, Stasia, was born. Then, his smile beamed right through Willie's sad face for all the world to see as one well timed picture was taken of that magical moment in 1955.

Clown Clipart

The day the sad faced clown smiles while in costume.
The day the sad faced clown smiles while in costume. | Source

Emmett Kelly Quote

“Weary Willie' is very real to me. He is a man who has given up. The boat has gone and left him. The cards are stacked against him. He's content to make out with what he's got. He knows he'll go no further.”

Read more at http://izquotes.com/author/emmett-kelly

Clown Doll Photo

Photo taken in an antique shop.
Photo taken in an antique shop. | Source

The Most Famous Circus Performer

Emmett Leo Kelly: Three circus clowns drinking coffee.
Emmett Leo Kelly: Three circus clowns drinking coffee. | Source

One Quiz Question


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Quote

"By laughing at me, the audience really laughs at themselves, and realizing they have done this gives them sort of a spiritual second wind for going back into the battles of life." ~ Mr. E.K. Senior

© 2014 Susie Lehto

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    • colorfulone profile image
      Author

      Susie Lehto 4 months ago from Minnesota

      Peggy, the way of the world has always been somewhat crazy to me. Secular humanism is not my cup of tea, they seem to want to take all the fun stuff away, like liberty and freedom, and anything to produces joy and laughter. - Best to know the Lords!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Isn't it a shame that some crooks are now using clown costumes to do their evil deeds. Some areas are even banning those costumes from being sold. The Ronald MacDonald clown has even temporarily been retired from service. Crazy world! I would rather think of clowns as jovial people entertaining others just like an Emmet Kelly.

    • colorfulone profile image
      Author

      Susie Lehto 9 months ago from Minnesota

      Peggy, good to see you again, thank you for sharing. We are getting to enjoy some very nice summer days, hopefully those hot days are gone, I like it on the cooler side. - Kudos!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 10 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Susie,

      Sharing this wonderful article of yours again. Hope you are enjoying your spring and soon to be summer months ahead. It is sizzling right now in Houston and so humid after all the flooding rains we have suffered. Thank heavens for AC!

    • colorfulone profile image
      Author

      Susie Lehto 11 months ago from Minnesota

      Thank you, Au fait. I am enjoying Mother's Day and all is well with my soul. Blessings to you!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 12 months ago from North Texas

      Came back to review this well written informative article again. Hope all is well with you . . .

    • colorfulone profile image
      Author

      Susie Lehto 17 months ago from Minnesota

      Sandy, I'm glad to see you stopped by this hub again. Its a favorite of mine to come to. Hope you are having a fun and happy day! - Kudos!

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 18 months ago from Frozen Tundra

      Visited here before. But still enjoy seeing the Emmett Kelly dolls.

    • colorfulone profile image
      Author

      Susie Lehto 20 months ago from Minnesota

      Thank you, Suzanne. The sad clown character was something everyone could relate with during the great depression era. Emmet was a genius to create this image.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 20 months ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Weary Willie does indeed look like a genuinely sad clown. Still, I'd rather have him on my shelf than Stephen King's IT or other clown types! The black and white photos of Emmet Kelly and his son are great - they make you get a sense of the times and the photographer was really talented. I can see why Emmet was the original though - with that upside down smile!

    • colorfulone profile image
      Author

      Susie Lehto 22 months ago from Minnesota

      Au fait, yes Weary Willie is a trip down memory lane for many of us baby boomers. Thank you for visiting.

    • colorfulone profile image
      Author

      Susie Lehto 22 months ago from Minnesota

      John, thank you for sharing that. I would love to see your collection.

    • profile image

      john 22 months ago

      i have been a collector of emmett kelly figurines for a long time my mother got me started with " the thinker" but was a fan of emmett kelly long before my collection got started. i now have 35 pieces in my cabinet. i have never seen the willie doll. i just picked up a emmett doll at a garage sale and cant seem to find it anywhere to know what it is and there are no markings on it but the face is emmett thank you for your article

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 22 months ago from North Texas

      A great trip down memory lane for many people, and a great history lesson for the rest of us. Well done!

    • colorfulone profile image
      Author

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Patrica, Willie was a clown I looked forward to seeing too. I was not a fan of all clowns either.

      Thank you for visiting, you have a way of brightening my days.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      He was an amazing performer and one of the ONLY clowns I have ever really wanted to watch. I really was not a fan of them at all.

      Great little photos Thanks for sharing

      Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

    • colorfulone profile image
      Author

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Willie the clown alone smiled once, it was his character to be sad. Kelly the actor was a happy man in real life and loved life.

      Thank you, Elsie.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      Very interesting article. I haven't been a fan of clowns as a matter of a fact I have never been to a circus, Sad.

      I have never heard of Weary Willie, but I feel sorry for that poor clown only one smile seen in life, poor guy.

      Laughter and lots of smiles keeps a body healthy and happy.

    • colorfulone profile image
      Author

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      I really appreciate your nice comment, coming from a fan of Emmett Kelly.

      Thank you, Au fait!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Emmett Kelley is probably the most famous of clowns and I've been reading about him since I was a child. You've written a great tribute to him and your photos are amazing!

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