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Oleg Popov, 2009

Oleg Konstantinovich Popov (Russian: Оле́г Константи́нович Попо́в, born 31 July 1930) is a famous Russian clown and circus artist. Popov is also called the "Sunshine clown."

He was born on July 31, 1930 in Moscow, the son of a clock-maker. He studied elements of acrobatics, juggling, and other circus skills in his youth. In 1949, he graduated from the Russian circus school in Moscow and started his career in the Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard. Six years later, he became the first clown from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to perform in the Western world. In 1969, he was honored with the title of People's Artist of the USSR. Popov's fame extended to Melbourne, Australia, where he was named King of Moomba (1971).[1]


Popov has performed as a clown, a mime, a tightrope walker, and a juggler. In 1981, he won the Oscar of the clown world: the Golden Clown of Monte Carlo. His role as a clown follows the tradition of the Russian "Ivanushka," who fools other people and who is teased himself.

Later he specialized in entertaining people as The Sunshine Clown, performing his art world wide and without any other circus requisite. His face painting is unique, and patented.

He was one of the most popular clowns in the Soviet Union during the second half of the 20th century. His idols include Charlie Chaplin and Heinz Rühmann, a German actor.

In 2006, Popov was invited to perform at the 30th anniversary of the International Festival of the Circus at Monte Carlo; at 75 years of age, he still managed to inspire a standing ovation.


  1. ^ Craig Bellamy, Gordon Chisholm, Hilary Eriksen (17 Feb 2006) Moomba: A festival for the people.: PDF pp 17-22

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