|Born||Clarence R. Cummings Jr.|
February 04, 1912
|Died||October 31, 1994 (age 82) |
Clare Cummings (February 4, 1912 - October 31, 1994), born in Chicago, Illinois, was "Milky the Clown" on local Detroit television shows in the 1950s.
The Cummings family moved to Birmingham, Michigan, where at an early age Cummings became fascinated with performing. His father would take him to performances of Houdini, Thurston and other popular magicians of the day.
Cummings began performing professionally while still in high school for school assemblies, birthday parties and banquets. In 1933, Cummings worked with Amos Jacobs (later known as Danny Thomas) on Chuck Stanley's "Happy Hour Club" radio show. In 1941, Cummings was hired by the DuPont company as an automotive paint salesman. He would sell paint during the week, and perform magic on the weekends.
During World War II, he served as Sergeant in the U.S. Army's Finance Division in Florida, and entertained the troops in the Army’s Special Services Division.
After the war, Cummings returned to his DuPont job in Detroit and resumed his magic career performing as the "Delineator of Deceptive Dexterity." In 1950, a local Detroit television producer spotted Cummings and offered him a job hosting a new children's show he was planning, Peter, Clare and Oscar (similar to the popular Kukla, Fran and Ollie). The fifteen-minute show lasted for thirteen weeks. Later that year, the Twin Pines Farm Dairy wanted to sponsor a children show, with cartoons, movies and a magic clown. Cummings was offered the job and "Milky the Clown" was born. Cummings created the distinctive makeup and his wife Margaret created the costume patterned after the clown in the opera Pagliacci. Milky's Movie Party two-hour show premiered on December 16, 1950 featuring cartoons, Westerns and Milky's magic tricks.
In 1955, Milky's Movie Party moved to WXYZ, home of Soupy Sales, and then later to WWJ Channel 4 in 1958 with a new format and a new name, "Milky's Party Time". Milky's Party Time was so popular with the kids that there was a two year wait for tickets to be part of the live studio audience. Kids would be asked by Milky to "say the magic words" and the kids would respond, "Twin Pines!"
Cummings had to quit the show in 1964, when he needed to devote more time to his full-time at DuPont. Close friend, Karrell Fox, replaced him as Milky until the show's end in 1967.
Cummings retired from DuPont in 1971 and made occasional personal appearances. In 1969, Milky appeared on the same bill with Joe Cocker, Iggy and the Stooges, Grand Funk Railroad and the MC-5 at the "Cosmic Circus" rock festival in Richmond, Michigan.
It 1988, he would attend informal meetings with other magicians in the Detroit which became known as the Clare Cummings Roundtable.
Cummings farewell performance as Milky was in 1992 at the Oakland Mall in Troy. He donated most of his magic tricks and one of his costumes to the American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Michigan, before he died of congestive heart failure in 1994.
- Cover, Linking Ring, Vol. 39, No. 3, May 1959
- Cover, The New Tops, Vol. 14, No. 8, Aug-Sep 1974
- The Linking Ring, Vol. 40, No. 12, February 1961, Tribute To Clare Cummings, page 46
- The Linking Ring, Vol. 74, No. 12, December 1994, Broken Wand, CLARE "MILKY THE CLOWN" CUMMINGS, page 118
- The New Tops, Vol. 34, No. 11, November 1994, Final Curtain, Clare Cummings, page 627