BetteBack December 2, 1977: Bette Midler Enlists Emmett Kelly For Television Special

Austin Daily Herald
December 2, 1977


Mention the name Emmett Kelly and chances are three images come to mind immediately – clown broom spotlight.

Kelly, of course, is the famous circus clown, who created the character of Wearie Willie, known all over the world for his specialty of sweeping up a spotlight.

He’ll be doing just that, again, in a poignant scene with Bette Midler when he makes a guest appearance on The Bette Midler Special to be colorcast on the NBC Television Network Wednesday Dec 7,9 p m

It came about by accident said Kelly, of his signature sketch “The light men in the circus used to like to lease the clown while they were setting up their lights. I played around with them and the thing grew out of that -I pretended that the light bugged me. I tried to get away from it but they wouldn’t let me. Finally I swept the light under a rug.

Kelly has been doing the act for 35 years now, ever since 1942. He recently appeared five weeks in Las Vegas and continues to entertain in nightclubs.

He makes his home in Sarasota, Fla.

“I hope people will remember me and love Willie, Kelly concluded.

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