Even in his later years Emmett Kelly made appearances on TV shows such as "What's My Line". In this episode (which can be viewed here) the contestant says it all when she figures out the mystery person is a clown: "The first clown's name that comes to my mind is Emmett Kelly." Everybody of that era knew who Emmett Kelly was to such an extent that his character name "Willie" was rarely used. Emmett's mere presence would make people light up and be ready to laugh. That's quite an effect! When I grew up the only clown I knew by name was Ronald McDonald and his presence just made me hungry and want to ask questions about the strange psychedelic crew he was running around with. Anyways I'm sure the good clowns will have their day again. So it goes with all things. Might be awhile though. I feel like we're still squarely in the middle of a "Clowns are creepy" era.
This illustration is for the Notable Missourian book on Emmett Kelly, written by Donald McManus and published by Truman State University Press.