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Poncho and Bubbles balloon

Date: 1976-1995
Overall: 85 x 26 mm, 0.001 kg
Medium: Rubber
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Tanner & Rose Clowns
Object Name: Balloon
Object No: AX000579

User Terms

    A white balloon used by Harold Tanner as Poncho and Marcelle Rose Bubbles as part of 'Tanner and Rose Clowns'. Harold Tanner and Marcelle Rose performed as the clowns Poncho and Bubbles on the cruise ships FAIRSKY, FAIRSTAR,ORIANA, CANBERRA, MINGHUA and ACHILLE LAURO from 1976 to 1995.
    SignificanceCruiseships, like FAIRSTAR and ORIANA, pitched their cruises as being especially affordable and fun for families. They were promoted as being extremely child friendly because they provided professional staff, activities and entertainers that could look after infants to adolescents (day and night) thus leaving parents free to
    relax. The Bubbles and Poncho story and collection is significant because it represents this period, when performers like clownswere fashionable entertainment for children on cruise liners .
    HistoryA scout and agent for the Sitmar cruises in 1976 saw Poncho and Bubbles, the Tanner and Rose Clowns, perform. He was so impressed that he recommended them as entertainers for the FAIRSKY Christmas/New Year cruise in 1976/1977. They were a huge success and were booked to perform again. In fact they would continue to perform as Bubbles and Poncho on nearly every school holiday cruise for the next twenty years on ships like the FAIRSKY, FAIRSTAR, ORIANA, CANBERRA, MINGHUA and ACHILLE LAURO.
    Billed as Tanner and Rose, Marcelle and Harold started working as duetists who sang musical comedy numbers and opera. They kiddy's birthday parties and Christmas shows as Bubbles and Poncho by day. Harold was no stranger to the stage.
    He performed with his brothers in a quartet called The Little Big Four. They were topliners at the old Tivoli Theatre in the 1930s and 40s. Marcelle also came from a musical family. Her father, Leon Rose, was a comedic violinist. Though neither of them had any formal training - singing and stage performance came naturally to both Marcelle and Harold.
    HaroldTanner had always been interested in clowns and magic. Reg Tanner, Harold's father, had done a little clown work as Poncho. And so it is believed that Harold inherited his love of clowns and his clown name from him. Harold also made magic tricks and he repaired magic tricks for other magicians. He combined his hobbies of magic, clowning and balloonology when he created his children's show with the vivacious Bubbles assisting. Marcelle Rose got her clown name Bubbles because of her effervescent personality. Bubbles and Poncho are salon
    clowns, meaning they only work on stage or theatre. They are different from circus clowns who have a more boisterous style and less personal interaction with their audience. Poncho and Bubbles liked to work closely with their audience and they personalised their act by transforming themselves from Marcelle and Harold into
    Bubbles and Poncho while on stage. They would start in their civilian clothes and slowly apply their characteristic clown makeup and then put on their clown costume, socks, shoes, wig and hat. This was their trademark performance. Marcelle and Harold believed that many children were scared of clowns and so
    this visual transformation helped children understand that clowns were real people. Letting children see how clowns come to life, witnessing the transition from reality to fantasy gave them the confidence not to be afraid. Marcelle and Harold began this performance in about 1958. Marcelle still performs this routine
    today at the age of 72, transforming into Bubbles for charities, hospitals, nursing homes and child care centres.
    Maxtone-Graham' writes that when voyages became vacations (and not simply a means of getting from one place to another) cruise operators felt the need to keep passengers entertained. It was bad PR for the shipping companies if their passenger's holidays turned in to one long boring trip at sea. And so with
    activities and entertainers scheduled from dawn to dawn - the need for a cruise director was born. It was the cruise director's job, to look after the social welfare of passengers and to manage the on board entertainment.
    By the middle of the 1990s, Marcelle and Harold began to see changes in the
    way the ships were being run. Less money was being spent on the trimmings
    associated with cruises. And there was a definite shift away from entertainers
    such as clowns to videos and computer games. Poncho and Bubbles performed
    for the last time on the Fairstar in 1995. Marcelle believes it was through their
    work on the cruise liners that their reputation was made. They are still known
    today for being one of the longest running clown shows in Australia (1976 to
    1995).Sadly Harold passed away in April 2000. Bubbles and Pimple (their son Clive) and sometimes Freckle (their grandson) continue to perform, doing lots of charity and goodwill work to keep many people hap

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