Kalkaska, Michigan 

2018 Grand Marshall

"Dynamite The Clown"

Rudy Grahek 

82nd National Trout Festival​​ 

April 25th-29th , 2018

Rudy always wanted to be a clown. He created his clown makeup style and costume from a combination of his two favorite clowns; Emmett Kelly’s Weary Willie, and Red Skelton’s Freddie the Freeloader.  Rudy used the name of “Rudy the Clown” until some children said it looked as though his costume had “been blown up by dynamite.”  Rudy then became “Dynamite the Clown.”

Rudy’s career began with a few gigs as a “spot performer” or “come in clown” or “crowd pleaser” for the Clyde Beatty Circus in the early 1950s.  As a come in clown he entertained the audience as they entered the tent and waited for the show to begin. Rudy also entertained audiences during the intermissions.

From 1952 until 1954 Rudy served in the Army Infantry, 7th Division, 17th Regiment during the Korean War.  After the war, Rudy attended what is now Ferris State University in Big Rapids courtesy of the GI Bill.  He studied business topics, graduating in 1957. He credits his education with helping him greatly to promote himself via advertising and public relations. Rudy loves Ferris. He regularly performs at Ferris, working the crowd.

For about 9 years after college Rudy performed with a number of circuses when they visited MI.  He settled in Reed City in 1960 where he raised his family, which included three children, and sold cars. He also worked with carnivals; including Happyland Carnival was when he was still in high school in 1949, and Skerbecks.
From 1990 to 1993 Rudy hosted the “Fox Kids’ Club Show” at Cadillac-based TV 33 Fox network. The show was broadcast into the U.P. and across Lake Michigan into eastern WI. The show had a peanut gallery where the children sat. Rudy had various guests, such as a local sheriff who talked about bike safety; and games, some of them very similar to those Bozo used on television, including Crazy Old Bucket Ball, the Intertubable Breakables, and Blockonodo among others.  The show was filmed (cut) on Saturdays.  Rudy borrowed the format and many games from Dick Richards (Bozo) with Dick’s permission – as long as Rudy changed the name of the games. Periodically Rudy was a guest on the Bozo show.  Besides hosting the show, Rudy also worked in commission sales at the Fox station during the week.

Today, Rudy spends a lot of his time working in parades and entertaining children at various events. For the last 50 years his parade acts have included suitcases. He has 28 painted suitcases, each with a different routine. Rudy does all the bookings, driving, makeup and walking himself.  He is proud that there is a monument in the park in Manton in his honor and his portrait on the bandshell as well. In 2007 Dynamite the Clown served as the Grand Marshall of the 58th annual Lilac Festival parade on Mackinac Island, a parade he walked in for 25 years.  

Rudy began walking in the National Trout Festival Grand Royale Parade in 1962, serving as the Grand Marshall in 2007 and 11 years later in 2018.