Bill Ballantine

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Bill Ballantine, a well-respected illustrator of circus subjects, was also a professional clown and a prolific writer who contributed circus and travel essays to major magazines. His many stories of circus life have delighted readers of such magazines as Collier’s, Holiday, Harper’s Bazaar, Saturday Evening Post, True, Saga, and Seventeen, and as if all that writing weren’t enough to keep any sane man busy, Ballantine also authored 10 books, including three that are among the most thumbed copies on any circus fan’s shelf—Wild Tigers and Tame Fleas, Horses and Their Bosses, and Clown Alley, which chronicles his years as dean of the Clown College.


Born in 1910 in Millvale, Pennsylvania, Ballantine was introduced to circuses by his father, a member of the Mystic Shrine and once mayor of their home town. Mixing sawdust and grease paint with the sparkling tarnish of the music hall next door to his childhood home, Ballantine developed a lifelong hunger for show business. After graduating from high school, Ballantine found work in sign shop, painting posters for local movie houses, and after several years, began attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, beginning his long career as an artist/illustrator and later writer. Through the years, he worked for a succession of employers, including the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, Associated Press, PM, Punch and during WW II, the Office of War Information (a forerunner of the CIA) for which he designed and drew pro-democracy...
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