Unique among the 7,000-odd scholars of Cambridge is a mild young chap of less than average stature who is a philosopher, a psychologist, a photographer, a mechanical engineer-to-be, and in moments not otherwise occupied, a tumbling, balloon-breaking, white-faced clown with a putty nose.
His speech pleasantly colored by a tinge of Southern drawl, Harvard's contribution to the profession of Pierrot is Dan M. Pearce '42, of Dunster House and Ripley, Tennessee, whose life has revolved in and around show business for just about as long as he can remember.
His father is today performing in the three rings, of the "Greatest Show On Earth" and his brother is working with a smaller show. Lon Jacobs, Milt Taylor, and Felix Adler, the King of clowns, are familiar figures to him, but Pearce is majoring in mechanical engineering and only get behind his white face with the big nose for club meetings, dinners, children's parties, and has no longing for the big top at any time other than vacation.
Wanted to Be a Pilot
Asked how he happened to settle upon a career of mechanical engineering. Pearce replied that he didn't quite know himself, but went on to describe a childhood fascination for aviation. "It wasn't much of a jump when I grew up from aviation to engineering," he said.
Pearce took up clowning at Harvard only after a suggestion from the employment bureau. In his performances up here, he once used a little pig which he had trained to climb a ladder, as a prop.
Philosophy, psychology, and photography Pearce picked up in two summers spent touring the East with a travelling circus. Originally a hobby, photography now pays him $300 a year. "When I found I was taking more pictures than I could pay for I started selling them," says he.
Philosophy and psychology are essentials to a clown, according to Pearce. In his own words: "You have to size up the audience and work them into the right mood, or else the gaga fall flat. That is an art which most persons don't recognize in a performer. And one thing about clown gags, they never grow old."