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Popo the Clown, an international figure honored in the...

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Popo the Clown, an international figure honored in the Circus Hall of Fame of the P.T. Barnum Museum, died of a heart attack Wednesday night at his Oakland home. He was 81.

Popo, whose real name was Count de Bathe, was born in 1900 in St. Louis to a mother who abandoned the infant in a shoe box. He was adopted, but the adoptive parents gave the infant to neighbors with the name De Bathe.

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When he was 42, Popo was told he was an orphan, but he said, 'I knew it anyway. I was the ugly duckling. I didn't belong, and they showed it. You can feel those things. I left when I was 14.'

Eventually he appeared as a circus clown in dozens of countries and learned to speak six languages. In 1973 his portable dressing room was set up in the Barnum Museum and later a life-size replica of him was constructed in Circus Hall of Fame.

Popo's last overseas trip, involving 26 nations, occurred in 1965. Until a few years ago, he continued to perform at Children's Fairyland in Oakland 'because I get a lot of pleasure out of entertaining kids.'

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Once, when presented with a UNICEF award for his work, he said only fate and luck had kept him from being a bum 'on the street corner of Mexico City, Bangkok or Manila.'

'I am a waif myself -- I know how they feel.'

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