Steve Smith (clown)

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Steve Smith (born August 8, 1951), professional clown and circus director, is best known to audiences as the clown character, "TJ Tatters."


Steve Smith began his career in clowning as a Graduate of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, Class of 1971. He then toured with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for six seasons before leaving the show and moving to Chicago, Illinois where he attended the Goodman School of Drama and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from the institution, now commonly referred as The Theater School at DePaul University. At that time, he also hosted a children's television series called "Kidding Around" for the local NBC affiliate. The program won several Emmy Awards and was a popular favorite for seven seasons.

Steve's connection with Ringling resumed when he became Director of Clown College in 1985, a post he held for ten years.

Steve became involved with the staging of a number of performances and productions from the Off-Broadway hit, The It Girl to programs for Walt Disney World to shipboard entertainment for Royal Caribbean Cruise lines. Smith then worked with animator/cartoonist Chuck Jones as Talent Development Coordinator for his production company, until Jones' death in 2002.

In 2005, Steve started working with the Big Apple Circus as their Guest Director, a collaboration that has carried on to a third season with the company, extending through 2009.[1]

Steve Smith was inducted into the Clown Hall Of Fame in 1993[citation needed] and is the recipient of several other honors, including: the Medal of Merit for Notable Achievement in Performing Arts from Ohio University[citation needed]; the Excellence in the Arts award from De Paul University[citation needed]; and the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art Circus Celebrity, Power Behind the Scenes.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (November 2, 2010). "The Artists and Oddballs Under a Tent". New York Times. Retrieved 13 March 2011.