Fair warning: The article you are about to read contains multiple references to clowns and clown-related memorabilia.
Many of us have fantasized about getting a nice inheritance from a departed relative. When Richard Levine's father-in-law passed away, Levine didn't inherit a million bucks or a mansion. Instead, he got clowns. About 13,000 of them.
Jack "Clown Jackey" Kline (the nickname was a clue) died in 2010 at the age of 81. He'd spent decades collecting clown-related stuff. Dolls, puppets, floppy shoes, red noses, you name it. And it was for a good cause. Kline often visited Florida children's hospitals dressed as a clown to cheer up the kids. Originally, he left some of the clown stuff to his wife. She then passed it all along to Levine.
Earlier this year, CBS Miami reports, Levine took six (count 'em, six!) round trips in a 30-foot truck to transport the clowns to a warehouse near his home in southern Florida. Levine told CBS News he plans on selling the duplicate items and using the proceeds to reopen his late father-in-law's store, the aptly named "Clown Rushmore." Levine told us by email that the sale is going well. Original paintings and signed pieces of clown memorabilia are among the most valuable.
While the thought of inheriting 13,000 clowns isn't the typical American dream, CBS Miami reports that Levine says he is more than happy to carry on Kline's legacy. "Once you put this paint on your face and when you get it in your mouth, you get it in your blood and now you're a clown forever," he said.
And he's not just talking the talk. His next stop is clown college, where he hopes to learn more about clown history, live makeup, putting on your clown face and developing his clown persona. He hopes to further develop his stand-up comedy, which he loves performing for kids and the elderly. We asked Levine if he's ever run across anybody who's afraid of clowns. The former irrigation contractor's response: "No." We're not sure if he was joking.
- Richard Levine