Jim Allen, known to his viewers as Rusty, the Clown, on KPTV's "Three Stooges" program, is 32 years old, has been a variety entertainer most of his life. His wife, Georgia Lee, and Jimmy added little Jody Darlene to the family about two years ago. Despite his busy schedule, Jim still finds time for his interests
fishing, swimming and square dancing. -Ed.
(5-5:30 Mon. thru Fri.) is, in reality, a gangling, mild-mannered young man named Jim Allen. Jim, a rare student of the profession of clowning, has been an actor for some 23 years, but his
greatest love is entertaining small fry. For a long time, he was the principal figure on
Hour, a full 60-minute program on Saturdays which brought youngsters to KPTV's studio in droves. Prior to that, he performed the same sort of chore on KOIN-TV. In the past year, he has been host on the "Three Stooges" program, and it has posed some problems for him. Jim is a gentle clown, and the often coarse antics of the Stooges don't
really jibe with his
and yet, the Stooges are so highly rated by viewers that Rusty reaps the rewards of their popularity.
Originally, the Stooges' comedies were run off as they arrived, but parental complaint about drinking and rough stuff now makes it necessary for Jim to censor
film in advance, which only adds to his heavy schedule. Jim has not expressed himself as to whether or not he appreciates the Stooges and his inevitable tie-in with them, but the air time consumed by their comedies leaves Rusty with very little time of his own, most of which is spent introducing commercials.
The thing Jim Allen likes most about his work, of course, is being with children. As he says, they're honest with you and sincere, which is a challenge to anybody. He also has a pet peeve associated with his job:
"The amateur camera bug who keeps me waiting while he puts film in his camera,
rewinds it, or forgets to put in the flashbulb. And another thing -- I don't like being mauled, and having my costume torn apart for souvenirs." This would tend to prove that there is a slightly hazardous -- and somewhat expensive -- side to his profession. A clown costume is not an easy thing to come by -- it is something built up by the individual to enhance the particular clown character he is trying to create. Rusty Nail's crushed topper, his red ball nose, and other features of his makeup are things he can ill afford to lose, yet children are always eager to grab a part of Rusty for their own. This denotes affection, but it can also be extremely irritating.
Jim Allen claims he has never had stage fright. Perhaps this is due to the informality of clowning. He prepares carefully for each appearance, but since he has created his own character there is really not much to fear. Were he to memorize long speeches or step into an actor's role, he might well become addicted to stage fright, but Jim is such a sincere and serious performer, the thought probably never occurred to him. And being a serious fellow (perhaps that's what makes a good clown), Jim has no desire to be in the limelight when not in costume.
"I wish to lead a private life when I am not in make-up; this is
important to me, and I will not allow my work to interfere with my family and children." In this respect, Jim Allen is fortunate; he is rarely recognized out of make-up. In fact, once his show is over and he has removed Rusty from face and figure he can walk unmolested through crowds of children in KPTV's lobby who have just witnessed his show.
His major criticism of TV is that it provides no live audience from which to draw reaction, which seems to indicate that children in the studio are not quite enough due to the limitations of space. He would be happy to become a network star if the opportunity arrived, but he is not counting the minutes on that score, clowns being as scarce as they are on big time television.
Among his favorites as great performers, Jim
lists a few who have come from circus or clowning backgrounds, but all of whom are, in one sense or another, real clowns: Joe E. Brown, Red Skelton, Danny Kaye, Jimmy Durante and Mel Blanc.
With an artist as devoted to his craft as is Jim Allen, perhaps he and Rusty will one day rank with the best of them.
Rusty Nails has his own website
March 12, 2005