As my film fest looms on the horizon — www.ocfilmfiesta.org — I want to give some backstory on our tribute artist, Rita Hayworth, a former resident of the historic Santora Arts Building in Santa Ana, CA.

But before all that, I must first honor my source: Pepito’s Joanne…

A woman of exotic talents!


Joanne was a dancer who fell in love with a Spanish clown her mother was dating.  This was way back in the 1920’s so the clown, Pepito, called upon his pal Charlie Chaplin to have Joanne perform in his film premier “Ballyhoo” @ the Mann Chinese Theater in Hollywood.  The invite was such an honor, Joanne’s mother didn’t protest. The dancer played a wind-up doll alongside Pepito and fell madly in love with him.  The two began a torrid love-affair that very day.  Needing some distance from her jilted mom, the teenage ballerina and her clown beau settled in Orange County, a charming town an hour south of LA.

I interviewed Joanne about a year before she died, and still vividly remember all the stories she told of old Hollywood in Santa Ana, their hangout @ the Santora Arts Building and the intoxicating scent of orange blossoms.

Pepito, the Spanish Clown


I’ve heaps of stories of these two, some terribly romantic others a bit sordid.

Pepito & Joanne are like two characters in a Jodorowsky film:


But to see the original gent himself on sparkling celluloid, check out this clip from Ginger Rogers’ “Lady in the Dark” where Pepito pops out of a giant wind up box:


For more info on Pepito & Joanne:


NEXT UP: A history of Rita Hayworth @ The Santora and theories of it’s architectural influence on Orson Wells!

One thought on “Pepito the Clown & Joanne the Dancer

  1. Dear Sandra,

    I appreciate very much you documentating the history of Pepeito and Joanne. Up until now I was not able to find much Info On them. so thank you for your articles and great research. I am Luis Reyes, the archivist and film historian, co-author of the book “Hispanics In Hollywood”, Much success with your film festival and keep up the great work you are doing.

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