Wisconsin State Journal: A Short Talk With Pepito Uncovers a Lively Life (1931)

Spanish Clown, Appearing At Orpheum, Was Once Court Jester to King of Spain; Owns and Trains Lions For Motion Picture Work

January 16, 1931

Backstage in a vaudeville house is always an interesting place to be while the acts are on.  Stage managers and assistants wander about in smocks; time and cue sheets are posted on a bulletin board, members of other acts stand in the wings and watch; everything is dim and shadowy except the stage — a sheet of light.  I was waiting for Pepito, the clown, to finish his act.  I could see him as he dashed off and on the stage, changing his dress, throwing aside a doll and grabbing up an accordion, his face unrecognizable under the broad painted mouth, lips and eyes.

(Right at this point there is a wide and gaping opening for a beautiful analogy between the painted smile on a clown’s face and the sham of life, the gorgeous gaudiness of the stage set from the front and the cold unromantic view of the props and unpainted boards that support it from behind— but we ain’t gonna’ take advantage of the opening!)

Here’s Some Interesting Facts About Pepito

One of the highest paid acts on vaude.  He was born in Barcelona.  For five years he was the official entertainer and court jester for the Spanish royal family.  Possesses a beautiful diamond and platinum pin in the shape of a crown given him by the Queen of Spain. Real name Jose Escobar.  

Been in this country nine years.  Came over to make motion picture for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Has played in “Divine Women,” (Greta Garbo’s last silent picture), “Laugh, Clown, Laugh,” with Lon Chaney, “The Cossacks,” with John Gilbert, “The Circus,” with Charlie Chaplin, “The Missing Link,” with Syd Chaplin.  

Never takes a clown part, always a straight or light comedy part. Studied dramatic art for years in Spain.  Fell into clowning and ventriloquism by accident.  

Owns four lions at home in Hollywood.  Uses them in serials and other pictures he works in while not in vaudeville. Trains them himself.

His partner, Juanita, who does some remarkable contortionist work and possesses one of the most beautiful developed bodies on the stage, is a former M-G-M player and is only 20.  

He does not travel by train from booking to booking, but drives his own Packard eight sport touring.  

He is extremely pleasant and intelligent.

Source:

The Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, Wisconsin, page 12, January 16, 1931

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