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Sep 18, 2017

The following contains subject matter that may not be appropriate for younger listeners or anyone with any sort of fear of clowns. Listener discretion is advised.

I was wrong when I thought my days of referencing Tim Curry were over when I finished up The Story behind Clue Series. But with the release of IT in September of 2017 came shattered box office records and a majority of my favorite podcasts talking about the new version with Bill Skarsgard in the title role. But as a kid, I knew the 1990 version after my dad bet me $10 I couldn’t sit through the made-for-TV version starring Tim Curry. And, weirdly, Stephen King’s IT became probably one of my favorite horror films and Pennywise became an icon in the world of scary movie monsters.

The Stephen King novel the movies are based on is looked at as one of the pivotal moments the subject of today’s episode went from a character bringing happiness and laughter to a character that it’s said 42 percent of Americans are afraid of.

I’m your host, Emily Prokop, and this is The Story Behind Clowns.

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This episode was brought to you by The Story Behind Executive Producers who support the show through the Patreon Page at patreon.com/thestorybehind: Stargate Pioneer from GonnaGeek.com, Mat from the One Word, Go! Show, Linguist Sam, Diane from History Goes Bump, Scott Smith from Recovering from Religion, Dan Brenic from Netflix N’ Swill, Jarrod Dunham from TheHistoryphile.net, Heather Welch from Sunshine and PowerCuts, and Jason Bryant from Mat Talk Online.

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Media:

Music for Makers

VIDEO: Stephen King Interview about IT and Pennywise Inspiration - Frostmare TV

 Sources:

The History and Psychology of Clowns Being Scary - Smithsonian Mag

Hospital clown images 'too scary' - BBC

History of Clowns - Clown Bluey

Hamlet: Summary: Act V, scene i - SparkNotes

Scaramouche - Encyclopædia Britannica

Grimaldi the Clown - Victoria and Albert Museum

The Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi - The Public Domain Review

Jean-Gaspard Deburau - Encyclopædia Britannica

John Wayne Gacy (Murderer) - Biography.com

IT - StephenKing.com

Stephen King Discusses How He Came Up With The Idea Of Pennywise - ComicBook.com

Americans Are More Afraid Of Clowns Than Climate Change, Terrorism, And ... Death - VOX

Thanks To Creepy Clowns, Ronald McDonald Is Lying Low - Huffington Post

Why You Shouldn’t Panic About This Year’s ‘Clown Panic’ - People

A Psychologist Explains Why Clowns Are So Scary - New York Post

The Force reawakens deceased cast — probably for years to come - Washington Times