Picture: Janet Munro and Ian Hendry – with a pair of oversized boots belonging to Coco the Clown. Photograph taken during a visit to the Bertram Mills’ Circus [Christmas season – November 1962].
In a couple of earlier articles, I have written about Ian’s love for the circus and how he first came to meet Coco – whilst he was still studying at the Central School of Speech + Drama in London. Ian went on to work for Coco as his stooge and became lifelong friends with him and his wife, Valentina.
Coco the Clown was featured on This Is Your Life in January 1962 and Ian Hendry was one of the guests. Some 16 years later, Ian would be the subject of his own This Is Your Life – broadcast in March 1978. Unfortunately, Coco had died in 1974, but his wife Valentina appeared in what was an emotional reunion.
These two episodes are featured on the excellent Big Red Book website:
Picture: Coco The Clown’s This Is Your Life  – Ian Hendry was featured as one of the special guests [pictured back row, 4th from right]
Picture: Ian Hendry’s This Is Your Life  – Coco’s wife, Valentina, appeared as a special guest.
Coco The Clown – Nicolai Poliakoff
Nicolai PoliakoffOBE (2 October 1900 – 25 September 1974) (Latvian: Nikolajs Polakovs) (Russian: Nikolai Petrovich Polyakov) was the creator of Coco the Clown, arguably the most famous clown in the UK during the middle decades of the 20th century. Technically, Coco is an Auguste, the foolish character who is always on the receiving end of buckets of water and custard pies. The Auguste often works with the more clever white-faced clown, who always gets the better of him.
Picture: Stone carving of Coco the Clown on his gravestone at Woodnewton, Northamptonshire.
Coco is buried at Woodnewton in Northamptonshire. The village is home to ‘Clownfest’, a fundraising operation inspired by Coco the Clown. There is a woodcarved statue of ‘Coco the clown’ in the Woodnewton village park. Coco the clown is buried in the graveyard of St Mary’s parish church, which is situated to the eastern end of the village.
Until next time,
Editor, Official Tribute To Ian Hendry
A detailed account of the life and work of Ian Hendry in the new biography: