Tuesday, October 30, 2012


"Clown, hobo, ballet dancer, bagpiper, and an Army major -
a collection of question marks.
Five improbable entities stuck together into a pit of darkness.
No logic, no reason, no explanation;
just a prolonged nightmare in which fear, loneliness,
and the unexplainable walk hand in hand through the shadows.
In a moment, we'll start collecting clues as to the whys, the whats, and the wheres.
We will not end the nightmare, we'll only explain it - because this is the Twilight Zone."

The Tramp

Mark Byron (Name is conjecture.)

Kelton Garwood

Mark Byron

Too Expensive and/or Memory Lapse

During the Great Depression, Mark Byron worked as a magician with a traveling circus which toured the country. However, this meant that he would be away from his wife and five year old son in New York City for a long period of time and that thought depressed him.

"Marko The Magnificent" with Tom Trimble and Pete Harris
On the night before he was to leave for the next leg of the circuit (in the Spring of 1933), Byron got drunk. He happened upon the doll-maker's shop and went in to order a special doll for his young son. He commissioned it to be in his likeness so that his son could have something tangible to remember him by.

The only problem was that a tuxedo for the doll would have made the doll too expensive. However, Byron also worked in that carnival as a back-up clown - he would perform his magic act early in the line-up and then join the main clowns Pete Harris and Tom Trimble for a series of routines to entertain the crowds.

Byron performed as a hobo clown, also known as a Tramp. But he instructed the doll-maker to leave the doll free of the clown make-up so that his son would have an unobstructed view of his Daddy's face.

Unfortunately, Byron sobered up the next morning as he rejoined the circus caravan and promptly forgot about the doll.

By the time he remembered about it, he was too far away from home. Not that it would have mattered, because he just wasn't bringing in enough money to pay the balance on such a "luxury" item. Most of his money he was already sending home to support his family.

When Mark Byron finally could afford to purchase the doll, he realized he might as well not bother in picking it up. His son was a surly pre-teen who had no interest in playing with dolls.  ("Action Figure" was not yet a term in vogue.)

In order to preserve his precarious paternal bond with his son, Byron quit the circus life on the road and came back to New York City to live. He got a job at a midway carnival (probably at Coney Island) as a magician. But in the meantime, his son was old enough by the 1950's to strike out on his own in Life. He headed to California, where he fell into the bohemian arts scene.

He tried his hand at being an abstract, expressionist painter, but was unable to find a patron in the Los Angeles area like Mrs. Van Martin was for Arthur Reynolds. It was during an altercation at a coffee-house with a patron that the son realized that not only was there no money in being a struggling painter, but that it could be dangerous as well.

Byron the Younger - who was known to his friends as "The Hermit" - turned his interests to beat poetry (nearly a decade too late) and fell into the crowd that followed the Beatles and rock and roll. He joined the entourage for the Standells and traveled with them back across the country to the New York area. There they rented out the Munster home in Mockingbird Heights where The Hermit recited his most famous poem. (At least, the only one we know about in Toobworld Central.)

This doll had been on the shelf far longer than the others.

As a magician, Mark Byron performed as Marko the Magnificent while with the carnival, and as Noryb the Great while with the Midway Carnival. (Noryb being his last name spelled backwards.)

The claim that he was a clown in the circus as well is my own suggestion. To keep his two characters separate, the clown would need a name different from Marko. Might I suggest Byro the Clown?

Mark Byron had that Cary Grant quality in which he looked ageless. Twenty years after being stranded by the circus near Walton's Mountain, West Virginia, he looked even better while performing as Noryb the Great. This could be due to the toll taken by life on the road.

Kelton Garwood also played Mark Byron's son, The Hermit. (Two for Tuesday!)

  • 'The Waltons' - "The Carnival"
  • 'Peter Gunn' - "Murder On The Midway"
  • 'Bachelor Father' - "Where There's A Will"
  • 'The Munsters' - "Far-Out Munsters"
  • 'Burke's Law' - "Who Killed Carrie Cornell"


[POST #8200!]

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