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Welcome to Circopedia,
the free encyclopedia of the international circus.
A project of the Big Apple Circus,
inspired and funded by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation.

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In The Spotlight

Dougherty 2008.jpg


Tom Dougherty was born in Brooklyn, New York on May 27, 1956, the son of James A. Dougherty, a lawyer, and Elizabeth Dougherty, née Muller, a private school Principal—none of each connected to show business in any way. Yet Tom’s grandfather, Adolf L. Müller, who was one of the main architects of Brooklyn’s historic Williamsburg Savings Bank building, taught him drawing and oil painting from an early age, and is also credited with teaching him how to amuse others. This gave Tom an artistic leaning, although no one expected him to become a clown. (According to Tom, his parents pointed to each other accusingly when asked later about their son…)

In High School, Tom was naturally drawn to art classes and began to create comics. After graduation, he went to the Pratt Institute to study animation, but college life didn’t suit his rebellious disposition (this was in the turbulent 1970s) and he tried another school to study Political Science—but that, too, didn’t last long. One summer, a friend asked him to help paint a set for a theatrical production in Brooklyn. While he was working on the set, an actor got sick and the director asked Tom if he wanted to replace the missing actor: “We had a rehearsal and they offered me a contract at the end of the day.”... (more...)

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CIRCOPEDIA is a constantly evolving and expanding encyclopedia of the international circus. New videos, biographies, essays, and documents are added to the site on a weekly—and sometimes daily—basis. So keep visiting us: even if today you don't find what you're looking for, it may well be here tomorrow! And if you are a serious circus scholar and spot a factual or historical inaccuracy, do not hesitate to contact us: we will definitely consider your remarks and suggestions.

Dominique Jando

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The International On-Line Circus Archive