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Nicolai Poliakoff (Poliakovs) ('Coco the Clown') (1900-1974), Circus performer; known for performing as Coco the clown

Sitter in 3 portraits
While the circus was principally a children's entertainment it held an enduring appeal for artists, photographers and film-makers who identified with the romantic image of skilled performers at the margins of society. Nickolai Polakovs was a Jewish Latvian who was apprenticed to the celebrated Russian clown Lazernko and went on to manage his own circus. Escaping the hardships of the Russian Revolution to join Circus Busch in Berlin he was spotted by Bertram Mills and persuaded to move to England. During the Second World War he entertained troops as a member of ENSA. In 1960 he was involved in a serious road accident prompting him to devote himself to the promotion of road safety awareness in children.