Skip to main content

Rivel, Charlie, 1896 - 1983



  • Existence: 23 April 1896 - 26 July 1983


Charlie Rivel was born Josep Andreu i Lasserre on 23 April 1896 in Cubelles Barcelona, Spain to circus performers Pere Andreu and Marie-Louise Lasarre.

Charlie started performing at two years of age in his father’s Risley act with a small French circus called Cirque Dusoulier. He was a very rounded performer and trained in acrobatics, perch-pole balancing, hand-balancing, trapeze, trick riding and playing several musical instruments including the guitar, violin and mandolin.

Charlie did not start clowning until 1906, when he was asked to cover for another performer. From this point he started to introduced comedy in his acts, which were still dominated by the trapeze and Risley until 1916. In 1920 Charlie started playing the auguste to his brother René and decided to form Los Rivels acrobatic and trapeze clowning trio, which achieved great success and started to tour around Europe and south America. The brothers performed together until 1935, when Charlie left to form his own troupe with his wife and children.

Charlie spent the Second World War in Germany performing in variety theatres and circuses. This made him very unpopular in the rest of Europe after the war, which prevented him from returning to the ring until 1952. Although initially his links with Germany continued to affect his acceptance in other countries, he eventually started to work internationally and eventually regained his fame. He continued working well into his seventies modifying his act to suit his abilities.

Over the course of his long career spanning eighty-two years Charlie became one of the most celebrated clowns in the world. He was the very first recipient of the Gold Clown award at the 1st International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo in 1974 and in 1981, received the cross of the Nordstjärneorden, the highest civic distinction in Sweden.

Charlie died on 26 July 1983, aged 87 years old.

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

Althoff Circus Programmes, 1953 - 1977

Reference code: 178K43.638
Scope and Contents

Althoff Circus programmes for Franz Althoff, Carl Althoff, Adolf Althoff and Rudi Althoff Circus, containing colour illustrations on the front covers, inside black and white and colour photographs of perfomers and acts with text, introduction, programme and commercial advertising, featuring Koringa, Buffalo Bill impresonators, Rogge Sisters, Rogana, Arthur Robin aka The Black Hercules and The Rivels.

Dates: 1953 - 1977

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 Schumann Programmes, 1934 - 1968

Reference code: 178K43.635
Scope and Contents

Circus Schumann programmes containing colour illustrations on the front covers, inside black and white photographs of perfomers and acts, introduction, programme and commercial advertising, feature Lilly Yokoi, Mazeppa and Charlie Rivel.

Dates: 1934 - 1968

Programmes, c1800 - 2019

Reference code: 178K43
Scope and Contents

A collection of mainly British and international circus programmes and some variety and music hall programmes containing circus acts.

Dates: c1800 - 2019