In its heyday, New Brighton (close to Liverpool), England, had no less than seven theaters, including one known as the Floral Pavilion. The Floral Pavilion originally opened its doors in 1913 and is the only theater operating today.
A theater this old has to have some ghosts, and it certainly does. Once of the most prominent ghosts is one known as Zozzaby the clown. Zozzaby’s story is a tragic one, and the fact that he was a clown makes the tale a little more frightening than usual.
Born in Czechoslovakia, the man known as Frederick Zozzaby (real name unknown) patterned himself after the French pierrot, mixing pantomime with facets of Commedia dell’Arte. Zozzaby’s trademark makeup featured an overlarge, pointed nose, often colored red. A derivation of the Czech word for “big nose” is “zozbe,” and it is this word that the clown used as his surname.
By the time Zozzaby first appeared at the Floral Pavilion during the early 1920s, he was pretty much washed-up as a performer. Depressed and supposedly addicted to alcohol and drugs, Zozzaby made little impact while performing. Indeed, his routine was much too old and lacked any originality.
Zozzaby’s depression was well known. It is said that he once attempted to hurl a bucket of gasoline over an audience and light them on fire. However, the theater manager apparently got wind of the plot and had the police arrest him. Poor Zozzaby wound up at the Lancashire asylum. In 1929, he killed himself.
Witnesses either working at the theater or there to watch a performance claim to have seen the ghost of Zozzaby. Some claim to have seen him backstage while others say that they have seen the apparition wandering the aisles during a show. Most witnesses describe the signature nose of Zozzaby—a long, sharp nose colored bright red.
But Zozzaby’s ghost is not confined to just the Floral Pavilion. Numerous children have reported hearing strange laughter while they were sleeping. Awakened by such a chilling sound, the children have reported seeing a translucent clown staring right at them. Some children claim that the clown’s face has a long, bent nose, as well as blackened, eyeless sockets. Adults who have come to their child’s rescue after such an incident have described a sickly sweet odor in the room. Some believe the small is that of embalming fluid.
Other reports describe a fully formed clown who sways back and forth, laughing and pointing at the witness. This version of the clown sports bloodshot eyes surrounded by blackened eye sockets.