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Whiteface and White Wardrobe by Jack R. Cox

Whiteface and White Wardrobe

by Jack R. Cox

504 pages
A clown's story through decades of American and circus history.

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Category: Fiction:Historical
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About the Book

Whiteface and White Wardrobe - the "call" that circuses of days gone by would place in entertainment industry trade papers when they were hiring clowns. And, on that sweltering July morning in 1917, little did teenage Jake McGregor realize that he would leave a life of abuse to answer that call year after year.

As an apprentice, Jake learned that a wide variety of skills are involved in the art of making people laugh. But, his mentor taught, most important of all is to remember that "A clown is love."

The novice absorbs these lessons well, and bit-by-bit he becomes a top-flight laugh maker, earning his place in Clown Alley, eventually becoming the head of that department. The story follows Jake from youth into middle age - years that will bring three wars to America, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, times of unimagined change.

Along the way, he will learn that the circus is a world apart, even having its own "lingo." He will visit sites that he had only dreamed of, and he will further his education thanks to the many cultural interests of his fellow clowns.

Not all is idyllic, however; life on the road has its many hardships - exhausting schedules, miserable weather, insects in sleeper cars. But, these all paled into insignificance one horrible day in the mid-1920's when a loved one was snatched away from the young clown - brutally, unjustifiably. Jake's world came crashing down on him, and his existence became one filled with hatred and the frustrated desire for revenge.

The way out of despair came from a totally unexpected quarter, enabling him to rebuild his shattered life and again be a complete clown - to love once more. From there his path led not only to bringing happiness to thousands, but on to marriage and family.


This was a big job. I really liked the 'inside' details , like the description of the sleeping arrangements on the train.
- Fred D. Pfening, Jr., editor, "Bandwagon," the journal of the Circus Historical Society
Circus Historical Society, Inc



About the Author
Jack R. Cox, his wife Shirley, and their four-legged friends live in the hill country of southeastern Ohio where much of this story is set. A former magazine and book editor, he and his family were also puppeteers and clowns with a community circus, experiences that contributed to this story.



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