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People Top 5
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PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- May 25, 1981
- Vol. 15
- No. 20
This Is Just a Warm-Up for Michael Davis: in the Show, He Juggles Mickey Rooney
Davis, the son of an English teacher dad and a secretary mom, started clowning in suburban San Francisco. At 19, after auditing a course at S.F. State titled "How to Be a Clown" (where he picked up juggling), he entered the Clown College in Venice, Fla. Michael toured with Ringling's Red Unit (led by Gunther Gebel-Williams) but as he observes, "There are no talking clowns in the circus. I guess I had more to say." Returning to San Francisco, Davis spent days trying out juggling and one-liners on the pavement and nights waitering at a North Beach comedy club. Two years later he was onstage himself, and in 1979 placed second in a nightclub laff-off just as Robin Williams had in 1977. That led to cable TV and Broadway.
"Definitely a bachelor," Davis today lives alone in a SoHo loft and dreams of "releasing a juggling album," starring in a silent film a la idols Chaplin and Keaton, and forming a troupe of young vaudevillians. Perhaps with the last in mind, Michael plans a new topper: juggling a TV set which is playing a cassette of Michael Davis juggling. "Get the picture?" he winks.
February 09, 2016
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