Monday, March 23, 2015
Baby boomers who grew up in Metropolitan Detroit have fond memories of two clowns who starred in local children’s TV shows. Today’s story is about Ricky the Clown. Read on Wednesday about another clown who starred in a Detroit-based TV show during the same years.
Ricky the Clown was on WXYZ from 1953 to 1965. Ricky was played by Irvin (or Irv) Romig, a professional clown who first appeared in a circus act at the age of five. Romig’s parents were both circus performers. His dad trained horses and performed as a cowboy for Ringling Brothers and his mother was a bareback rider and aerialist. When the circus season ended each year, the family returned to their home in Detroit.
Following military service during World War II, Romig worked for both the Shrine Circus and Ringling Brothers, mastering new routines and animal acts. His children’s show premiered in October 1953 on WXYZ and featured cartoons, animals, games, a live audience or “peanut gallery” of about twenty-five children, and guest appearances by circus performers who were Irv’s professional friends. In turn, Rickey the Clown was also a guest host for Soupy Sales and other WXYZ kids show personalities. Years after his TV show ended, Ricky continued to perform for children of all ages and made a guest appearance at the Troy Historic Village. In 2001 Irv Romig was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame. He passed away at the age of 90 on May 22, 2010.
To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.