Friday, August 24, 2012

A Clown in the Family


Yes, Indeed I do have a clown in the family. He is my 1st cousin 3x removed. – Russell MIDDLEBROOK, otherwise known as Byko the Clown and often as Madame Fifi, to name just a couple of his alternative personalities.

Russell was born Charles Russell MIDDLEBROOK in 1908 , youngest son of James Thompson and Julia Ann MIDDLEBROOK.

(James Thompson is the younger brother of my 2x Great grandfather Samuel MIDDLEBROOK.

I know James Thompson was a carpenter  based in Matakohe for some time at the turn of the century, and Russell was born in the Northland area.

I found 2 articles about Russell in my Great Grandparents scrapbook


A wonderful clown Russell must have been because in 1983 he was awarded with a “Benny”. This is a recognition award from the  Variety Artists Club of New Zealand.

On their website they describe it as the highest honour that can be awarded to an entertainer in New Zealand ,




In my search for a little more information on Russell I came across these wonderful videos narrated by Russell himself



He performed in circuses in New Zealand and Australia and apparently was part of a group who entertained the American and local troops during WW2 .

There are quite a few home videos on youtube all narrated by Russell, they are a huge treasure – This one look like he is performing at Takapuna beach which is only a few minutes drive from where I live now!


You can see more of Russell’s home movies on you tube by searching either  his name or Byko.

They are a  real treasure trove for the amateur genealogist. How I wish I had known we were related when he was still alive.

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