Polly M. Benitone, widely-known as “Polly the Clown,” was a fantastic ventriloquist who performed countless shows with her puppet sidekick, Ollie.
Daughter Barbara Benitone said her mom embraced life.
“She was extremely creative, loved children and had a great sense of humor,” Barbara Benitone said. “Mom was extremely fun-loving and ready to make everything a new adventure. If we needed a butterfly collection she and our father could be seen running with nets in the fields searching for countless species. Then they carefully mounted them and labeled them.”
Barbara Benitone said children were always welcome at their home, where her mom would teach them some of the essentials they needed to know such as walking on their hands.
Benitone, 90, of Schererville, was married to her late husband Charles for 64 years. The couple took their children on long, well-planned annual road trips eventually visiting every state except Hawaii and Alaska.
“Our home was filled with lots of books on history, philosophy and literature,” she said. “During her lifetime my mother fulfilled all her dreams.”
At the tender age of 60, Benitone announced she was taking classes to become a clown.
“Passionately, she delved into her avocation,” Barbara Benitone said. “She created beautiful, hand beaded costumes, learned magic tricks, sculpture balloons and face painting. To the delight of her many fans, Benitone learned ventriloquism and created her favorite puppet Ollie. Ollie was a little girl who wore black patent leather shoes and would innocently ask, ‘Did you see my shoes? You can see yourself in them.’"
Benitone was privileged to work with famous clowns Bozo and Clarabelle, comedian Bob Hope and several sports celebrities including Ron Santo.
Benitone always had the longest lines at face painting events.
“Polly loved being a clown,” she said. “What could be better than the sound of laughter?”