The Creepiest Historical Clown Images We’ve Ever Seen

As we can see from the photos, clowns aren’t for everyone.

For many children clowns were the historical entertainment of choice. They were at circuses and fairs, as well as in movies and TV shows. Many clowns had makeshift costumes and face paint, making each one unique. Back then most people didn’t think anything of it and there are many photos today that show just how varied their costumes were. Fast forward to today’s world and clowns have become a controversial subject. With nearly every circus out of business and movies like It and Poltergeist making clowns terrifying, many people today are afraid of clowns. Now the clown in the public imagination is a terrifying figure soaked in modern folklore about murderers. Looking back on historical photos of these performers now, it’s easy to see why they can be so scary without even trying just with their costumes alone.

Via/ Flickr

The stiff horse doesn’t help these two clowns to look more innocent at all.

Via/ NYPL Digital Collections

Did someone order a sad clown sousa band? No?

Via/ Flickr

We’re not sure which is worse: the face paint on this clown or his ankle ruffles.

Via/ State Archives of Florida

There’s something about a clown in a long apron that just reminds us of a butcher. It’s not an association we’d like to have.

Via/ Nationaal Archeif

The giant papier mache heads aren’t helping this situation to look less threatening.

Via/ Flickr

Sometimes face paint placement can make all the difference between scary and silly. This one errs on the side of scary.

Via/ State Archives of Florida

There’s something tubercular about this 1920s clown’s appearance.

Via/ Library of Congress

Those kids certianly don’t happy to be getting a visit from these clowns.

Via/ Library of Congress

Once again, the face paint really does make all the difference.

Via/ NYPL Digital Collections

If an entire circus paying homage to a giant clown doesn’t put you off then you’re made of strong stuff!

Via/ NYPL Digital Collections

Titto Ruffo was a very famous baritone opera singer in the early 1900s and played many roles, but this one as a clown (and covered in spots) does not strike a good chord.

Via/ Library of Congress

Not only does this clown have terrifying facial features painted on, but he has a tiny clown in the jack-in-the-box he’s holding.

Via/ NYPL Digital Collections

Grock was a very well-known Swiss clown who performed all over the world. However, his appearance was more than a little disturbing.

Via/ Institute of Czech Literature

There’s something about this clown that’s like a Ronald McDonald gone wrong.

Via/ Flickr