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The Feather & Juggling Balls from Emmett Kelly's "Feather Act"

The Feather & Juggling Balls from Emmett Kelly's "Feather Act"

One pair of crown jewels of the Emmett Kelly collection, here's the original feather and juggling balls used by Kelly in his "Feather Act," in which he would attempt to juggle while balancing a feather on his nose. Kelly began his career as a trapeze artist in the early 1900s before finding his niche as a clown in the 1930s. He garnered the most attention for his character "Weary Willie," whose downtrodden demeanor ran counter to the common depiction of clowns at the time. It took years of persuasion for Kelly to finally get the green light to unveil his unconventional clown, but once revealed Willie immediately endeared himself to audiences, who sympathized with the Depression-era tramp as he would perform bits like trying to sweep away a pool of light formed by circus spotlights. Seen here is a photo of Kelly in full Willie regalia balancing this feather and holding the juggling balls during a 1955 Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performance. The feather measures 16" and is framed to 12x22". This offering comes straight from the Kelly family, who claim this is the only feather he ever used. These are iconic props from an unparalleled clowning career.

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