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Popov, Oleg, 1930 - 2016



  • Existence: 31 July 1930 - 2 November 2016


Oleg Konstantinovich Popov aka Oleg Popov was born on 31 July 1930 in Russia. In 1942 he became an apprentice at the Pravda Newspaper, which allowed him to join their athletics club. Oleg excelled at the club and aged fifteen years old, he joined the Moscow State College of Circus and Variety Arts. At the circus school he trained in acrobatics, juggling, and other circus skills for four years and made his debut at the Tbilisi Circus, performing as a clown, in his signature act which combined miming, tightrope walking and juggling. His clown character followed the tradition of the Russian folk character ‘Ivanushka’, who fools other people and who is teased himself.

Oleg first toured outside the Soviet Union with the Moscow State Circus in 1956, performing in France, Belgium and England and gaining widespread acclaim. His success was noted by the Soviet regime, who made him a goodwill ambassador for the Soviet Union and arranged various public appearances including at the Brussels World Fair in 1958 and American television in 1957, although he did not visit the country until 1963 and again in 1972.

Upon the fall of the Soviet Union, Oleg started touring with a unit of the Moscow Circus in Germany, where he eventually settled down and worked extensively in the circus and on television.

Aside from his circus career Oleg appeared in four films between 1953 and 1977 and published his memoires in 1970.

During his career Oleg toured extensively around the world and received many awards including Honoured Artist of the RSFSR in 1956, People's Artist of the RSFSR in 1958, People's Artist of the USSR in 1969, Order of Lenin in 1980, the Gold Clown award in 1981 at the International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo, Three Order of the Red Banner of Labour, Order of Friendship in 1994, Honorary Diploma of the President of the Russian Federation in 2010 and the Asteroid 278200 Olegpopov was named in his honour in 2007.

Oleg died on 2 November 2016 at the age of 86.

Found in 8 Collections and/or Records:

Christopher Palmer Collection

Reference code: NFA0105
Scope and Contents

Circus programmes and VHS tapes from Billy Smart’s Circus and Chipperfields’s Circus collected during the 1970s and early 1980s by the TV producer, Christopher John Palmer. There are also a number of promotional photographs of artistes and other ephemera related to the circus.

Dates: 1973 - 1983

Circus Friends Association Collection

Reference code: NFA0122
Scope and Contents

This collection consists of a large library of books and journals, as well as archival material including posters, programmes, photographs, films, handbills, research material, scrapbooks, original artwork and many other items of ephemera relating to British, Irish and European circuses

Dates: 1795 - 2020

Circus Krone Programme, 1980

Reference code: 178K41.34
Scope and Contents

Various artists including Oleg Popov, clown. Contains illustration on cover and photos, 44p.p.

Dates: 1980

Clown Prints, c1900 - 1999

Reference code: 178V11.54
Scope and Contents

Colour digital prints of famous clowns including Charlie Cairoli, Grock, Coco and Popov, by Royston Knipe.

Dates: c1900 - 1999

Newspaper Cuttings and Scapbooks, 1838 - 2007

Reference code: 178G21
Scope and Contents

A collection of newspaper cuttings on circus, circus proprietors and performers and scrapbooks containing newspaper cuttings, posters, programmes and other items of ephemera, covering mainly British circuses and venues such as Belle Vue and also some international circuses.

Dates: 1838 - 2007

Original Artwork, c1800 - 2000

Reference code: 178V11
Scope and Contents

Original works of art including artists' prints, drawings, watercolours and paintings, and designs for circus posters.

Dates: c1800 - 2000

Programmes, 1970 - 1981

Reference code: 178K41
Scope and Contents

Programmes for various British and international circuses including Billy Russell's, Blackpool Tower, Fossett's, Chipperfield's and the Toni Boltini's Circus.

Dates: 1970 - 1981

Various Newspapers and Newspaper Cuttings, 1927 - 2007

Reference code: 178G21.1
Scope and Contents Newspapers and newspaper cuttings relating to circus news and performers, including the Sunday Mercury Special, The Evening Mail, Circus News Illustrated, Late Circus News Flashes, Leisure Life, The World's Fair, Danmark Kina, Soviet Weekly,The Advertiser, The Yorkshire Herald, The Yorkshire Post, The Sun, The Guardian and other main stream newspapers, including articles on Norman Barrett, Boswell Circus, Coco, Bertram Mills Circus, Belle Vue, Barrett's Circus, Robert Gandey's Circus Chinese...
Dates: 1927 - 2007