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Digital Photograph - Holden Brothers Circus, Two Clowns in Costume and Face Paint, 1920s Image Reg. No: MM 111183

Sepia toned photograph showing two clowns, Danny Dealma at left and Harry Mackenzie at right, from Holden Brothers Circus, 1920s.

The two clowns were most likely dressed for a matinee circus performance and are standing on a grassy area, probably behind the circus performance area. The donor of these images, Melba Ryan, remembers: 'Doris Holden would have said something like 'Do a pose' and took the photograph.' Doris' shadow is in the foreground. The location is unknown.

Harry Mackenzie also travelled for performances with Perry Brothers Circus, Wirths Circus and Ashtons Circus. He also sometimes performed with Adolphus Holden and Ernie Gordon Holden from Holden Brothers Circus as the Flying Gordons, doing a three bar trapeze act.

According to the Holden family, the Holden Brothers Circus was founded in Melbourne in 1892 by Adolphus Holden. As a youth, Mr A Holden lost a leg in a railway accident near the Royal Melbourne Zoo. His family note that 'He overcame that hardship to achieve fame as an athlete, circus proprietor, animal trainer, acrobat and sensational aerial loopist and triple horizontal bar performer.' His family consisted of 10 sons and 1 daughter. In the early days the circus was transported by horse and wagons, then in the mid-1920s the circus began using motor vehicles. The original members of the Flying Gordons were Adolphus Holden and Ernie Holden. Ernie Gordon Holden was acclaimed as being the first and greatest rope spinner in Australia, in one cast of the lasso he roped in as many as seven horses and their riders. The world famous Flying Jordans Troupe also toured with the circus for a time. The family state that 'Over the years Holden Bros Circus gained a great reputation and goodwill throughout the country.'
Description Of Content:
Two clowns in costume and face paint standing in a grassy oval or paddock. Their shadows are visible, as are the shadow of the photographer and another unseen person. There are trees in the background, an electricity pole and fences. At left in the background is a car with a man leaning his foot on the running board. At right in the background, down an embankment, are three people. At right near the clowns is the corner of a tent with a small table under it.
Acquisition Information:
Copied from Mr Dennis Ryan, 2006
Discipline: History

More information

Tagged with: holden brothers circus, circuses, clowns, cars, tents, trees, shows, performers
Themes this item is part of: Holden Brothers Circus, Leisure Collection, Working Life & Trades Collection, Melbourne's Biggest Family Album Collection
Primary Classification: RECREATION & TOURISM
Secondary Classification: Performing Arts - Circuses
Tertiary Classification: performers
People Depicted: Dealma, Danny; Mackenzie, Harry
Organisations Depicted: Holden Brothers Circus
Format: Digital Still Image: Black & White; Tiff
Place & Date Depicted: Victoria, Australia, 1920s

Source of Date Depicted: Contributor's mother's estimate.
Photographer: Mrs Doris Holden
Organisation Depicted: Holden Brothers Circus, Australia, 1920s
References: Information has been updated via DC Enquiry 68154, 68248, 68249.


jeanette crowley Posted on 18 Apr 2010 5:24 PM
Digital Photograph - Holden Brothers Circus, Two Clowns in Costume and Face Paint, 1920s thank you for sending this . i can see it is my father harry mackenzie in this picture has i have not phofos of him it great too see many thanks jeanette
Discovery Centre Posted on 20 Apr 2010 12:00 PM
Museum Victoria Comment
Hi there Jeanette, thanks for confirming that it's your dad in the image!
Greg Schirmer Posted on 10 May 2010 7:14 PM
Hi there, Harry Mackenzie is my Grandfather. This Photo brings back wonderful memories of him. Thank you very much.

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