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Grock (January 10, 1880 – July 14, 1959), born Charles Adrien Wettach, was a Swissmarker clown.


Early life

Grock was born in Loveressemarker, a village near Reconvilier, Switzerlandmarker. He started early as a performer, learning musicianship and acrobat skills from his father and during summers spent with the circus in his mid-teens. He went on to become a clown, partnering first Brick in 1903, adopting the name "Grock", and then the famous clown Antonet (Umberto Guillaum). This second act was developed with the aim of making the transition from circus to music hall, the latter offering more lucrative opportunities. While not initially successful, Antonet and Grock did manage to secure a London engagement in 1911. Refining their performances according to audience response, Grock came to dominate the act, and they eventually split up.

Career and later life

Villa Grock in 2007
By 1913, Grock's fame had spread, his act having developed into the mixture of pantomime and musical blunders for which he is now remembered. With the outbreak of World War I, he made Britain his base, remaining there until 1924, when he returned to continental Europe. He performed throughout Europe and in the United States, commanding ever higher fees, and his continuing success enabled him to establish his own circus in 1951, with which he toured until his final performance in Hamburg on October 30, 1954. Grock described the secret of clowning as follows: "The genius of clowning is transforming the little, everyday annoyances, not only overcoming, but actually transforming them into something strange and terrific… it is the power to extract mirth for millions out of nothing and less than nothing."

He retired to the Villa Bianca (now named "Villa Grock"), a 50-room lakeside house he had had built in the 1920s in Imperia, Italymarker, where he died in 1959.


Some of Grock's performances have been preserved on film. He made the 1927 silent movie What For?, and French and German language versions of Grock in 1931. A biopic, Au revoir, M. Grock (1949), featured Grock as himself, with Adrien Osperi and Ted Rémy playing Grock as a boy and young man, respectively.

In retirement, he made some appearances on Italian television. He also authored several books, including the autobiographical Die Memoiren des Königs der Clowns (Memoirs of the King of Clowns) (1956).

A new picture biographie «Grock - Seltsamer als die Wahrheit» (Grock - What Is Stranger Than The Truth) was published in Switzerland 2006 and includes a DVD-Video with Grocks Stage-Scetch from 1931 newly restored version by FilmArts Productions, Zurich.


The Grock d'Or statuette
Grock's career is commemorated with the Grock d'Or, an annual competition for young circus artists which first took place in 2003. This competition has been discontinued since 2008.


Additional references

External links

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