Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Willie Doll

I don't have any pretty baby dolls from my childhood or big girl dolls, with fancy clothes and shiny hair, that survived. When I did get them I combed their hair, chewed off their fingers, and lost their clothes. I guess you could say I was hard on my dolls.

But I do have one that has been with me for over 50 years. It's "Weary Willie," modeled after Emmett Kelly's famous clown character. I was in the hospital on my 12th birthday, recovering from an appendectomy, when my parents gave me Willie for my gift. I'm not sure why they chose a sad clown for me, but maybe it was because of the circumstances. Nobody should be in the hospital on their birthday, and Willie was there to show me he cared.

I guess Willie looks pretty good for being 50, what with my track record. He is missing his hat, which I borrowed from Willie to put on the head of the paper mache duck I made in my junior high art class. He (the duck) was lopsided and goofy looking till I put him in Willie's hat and a black tie! I'm not sure what happened to that hat after the duck got through with it. And it looks like the mice got a pretty good taste of Willie's shoes before they decided to search for food somewhere else. His bald head flops a bit and his hair could use a good wash, but I learned long ago that it doesn't pay to mess with a doll's hair.

Anyway, I looked up Emmett Kelly today and learned that he was born in 1898 and spent most of his adult life playing the part of Willie. His son, Emmett Kelly Jr, carried on the tradition as a clown as well. The first video shows Emmett Kelly, Sr. on What's my Line? and the second one shows Emmett Kelly Jr in a wonderful routine of sweeping up the spotlight. You might also enjoy the Facebook page dedicated to Emmett Kelly, Sr.

emmett kelly - Caught sweeping up the light from Walter Patrick Smith, AIA LEED A on Vimeo.

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