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B'nai B'rith Dinner for New President, Jewish Friendship Club Visits, Coco the Clown Visit

Behind the greasepaint of an iconic figure in the British circus - Coco the Clown reveals his Jewish roots.

Amateur film 1953 16 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


One of the most famous Augustes in Britain, Coco the Clown shows off his trademark oversize boots and fright wig and poses with Little Billy and the Bertram Mills Circus impresario on the Town Moor in Newcastle. These remarkable pictures also reveal the Jewish Latvian migr behind the greasepaint as Coco is made an honorary member of the Newcastle Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women.

In the tradition of local topical films popular with showmen in the early years of cinema, this wonderful amateur film is a significant portrait of the Jewish community in Newcastle, capturing as many faces as possible on camera. Those recorded include men and women of Newcastle (and Leeds) Friendship Clubs; guests at the smoky Bnai Brith dinner to inaugurate the new President; and those gathered to celebrate a former World War Two Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps recruit, Nicolai Poliakoff, also known as Coco the Clown. The Jewish Friendship Club Movement began in 1950, its aim to provide elderly Jewish men and women (over 60 years of age) with social and recreational centres.