On This Day

Joseph Grimaldi

Greatest Clown in History Joseph Grimaldi

Profession: Greatest Clown in History

Nationality:
England
English

Why Famous: The most famous clown of them all and the most popular English entertainer of the Regency era (1811-1820).

In the early 1800s, he expanded the role of Clown in the harlequinade that formed part of British pantomimes, notably at the Drury Lane, Sadler's Wells and Covent Garden theatres.

Grimaldi became so dominant on the London comic stage that the harlequinade role of Clown became known as "Joey", and both the nickname and Grimaldi's whiteface are used by clowns to this day.

Born: December 18, 1778
Birthplace: London, England, United Kingdom
Star Sign: Sagittarius

Died: May 31, 1837 (aged 58)
Cause of Death: The coroner recorded that he "died by the visitation of God"

Articles and Photos

Events in the Life of Joseph Grimaldi

  • 1806-12-29 Thomas Dibdin's pantomime "Harlequin and Mother Goose" starring Joseph Grimaldi, in his most famous clown performance, opens at the Covent Garden Theatre, London
  • 1829-03-17 Final performance by famous clown Joseph Grimaldi at a benefit performance at Sadler's Wells, London

Famous English People