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Joseph Grimaldi
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Clown
    (December 18, 1778-May 31, 1837)
    Born in London, United Kingdom
    Popular pantomime performer
    Headlined at the Theatre Royal, Convent Garden, Drury Lane and Sadler's Wells
    He made his stage debut at age two, opposite his father.
    He accidentally shot himself in the foot during one play (1801).
    He spent his last years a bitter, depressed alcoholic.
    He and his wife made a suicide pact and took poison, but the only result was severe stomach cramps (1832).
    His makeup fell well into 'Can't sleep, clown will eat me' territory.
    His disciplinarian father would beat him for not following orders.
    While performing as a monkey on a chain onstage with his father, his father began swinging him around his head until the chain snapped, landing young Grimaldi in the orchestra pit (1785).
    At age nine, he became his family's main breadwinner when his father died.
    His first wife died in childbirth (1800).
    He was the most popular entertainer of Regency England.
    He popularized whiteface makeup for clowns.
    His memoirs were ghostwritten by Charles Dickens.
    During a meeting with Lord Byron, the poet said he felt 'unbounded satisfaction in becoming acquainted with a man of such rare and profound talents.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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