Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Oh rapture!: New Images of Milky the Clown

It's not every day I find a  new image (new to ME, I mean - these were likely taken 50 years ago) of the source of my childhood nightmares, Milky the Clown. Milky was the surreal symbol of Twin Pines Dairy, sponsor of Milky's Party Time and other lactitious Detroit children's programs.

This one I haven't seen before. Like a nun's habit, Milky's costume covers everything but his face, which is thickly plastered with white greasepaint like something from a movie made in 1917. And his hat. . . his hat isn't like any other clown's hat, unless you look back about 100 years.

Milky wasn't a clown of his times. This was why he was so scary. He seemed like the nightmare reverse negative of an old Betty Boop cartoon, jumping not out of an inkwell but a vat of Twin Pines milk.

Was this magic, or a form of sorcery? Was his baggy monochromatic white costume and dead-white face a deliberate attempt to mimic the ancient itinerant carnival clowns depicted by Leoncavallo in Pagliacci?

Well, maybe. Except for the pompoms.

And this one is no less than Enrico Caruso, the most famous tenor of all time. Wearing Milky's costume, or a close approximation of it.

What's the magic word? . . . Twin Pines! ("But that's two words," I used to protest, provoking offended stares.)

And never mind that Pagliaccio, upon whom Milky based his classic white pointy-hatted costume, murdered both his wife and his romantic rival, leaving a pile of bodies on the stage. The little tykes won't know anything about that, will they?

We hope not.


Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book
    It took me years to write, will you take a look