Leon McBryde

"Leon McBryde is the epitome of a ‘perfect clown’. He is the ultimate performer. Whether he is in his character as Buttons, or as Santa Claus, there is no doubt in the eyes of a child that he is the real thing. Occasionally we mere mortal clowns are asked if we ‘sometimes dress up like a clown’. Well no one asks Leon this question, as he is the absolute ‘real thing’. This giant of a man in stature is also a giant in the minds of those that understand what goes into creating a dynamic performer. Leon, at age seven, saw Lou Jacobs appear with the Ringling Bros. Circus. He thought then that he’d like to become a clown. In 1969 that dream became reality after he graduated from Ringling’s Clown College and joined the Greatest Show On Earth. By 1970 he was promoted to be the Ringling Goodwill Ambassador and traveled one week ahead of the show to do promotional appearances on behalf of the circus. His dynamic personality was a perfect fit for the necessary meetings with the press, as well as performing a lot of shows at schools and hospitals. He crossed back and forth throughout the United States multiple times and held this position for five years. Following his years with the circus, Leon continued to broaden his scope of influence, by doing a lot of corporate clown work and mall appearances, touring with friends Earl Chaney and Jim Howle. He also appeared in a long running weekly Chicago television series “Toddlers Friends”. He was involved in writing and producing over 100 episodes for this show. During about this same period of time he contracting with the McDonald Corporation and started to create shows such as the “Ronald McDonald School Safety Show and the “Big Red Shoe Review”. For several years Leon was an instructor at Clown Camp, and also served as one of the assistant directors. Then he returned to Virginia where he began offering his very successful Advanced Studies educational program. He continues to be a strong presence at clown conventions, festivals and other clown gatherings. Rightfully so, awards and acknowledgements came Leon’s way. He was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame in 1990. And during this same year he helped produce and appeared in a major motion picture “The Judas Project”. In 1993 he appeared on the cover of David Ginn’s book, “Clown Magic”. The book itself was dedicated in his honor. Traveling and clowning have been in Leon’s blood for many years, and so it wasn’t unusual that he, living in Virginia teamed up with Don Burda‐who lived in California, for many trade shows and corporate engagements. They worked many engagements together until Don’s untimely death in 2008. Never one to be a follower, Leon’s leadership has also been at the forefront of developments in the creation of clown shoes, clown noses, and makeup products. His ProKnows and ProFace line of merchandise has become mainstays of many clown vendors/suppliers. Leon attributes his understanding and growth as a clown to two people: Mark Anthony and Michael Polokov‐Coco the Clown. Both became very close friends and the photo here shows these three and illustrates their dynamic characters. Leon said that it was from Mark that he learned about clowning from the heart. And what could be closer to the heart of a child than Santa Claus. So it was no difficult why Leon gravitated to this kind and gentle character that he now portrays. Whether Leon is appearing as Buttons or as Santa Claus, his rapport with the audience is remarkable. He is a dedicated artist that knows the meaning of performing from the heart." www.Proknows.com