Who made Pennywise Scary: Stephen King or Tommy Lee Wallace

This was a post I started to write a long time ago. Almost a year in fact. It would appear that I forgot all about it, so here it is, better late than never… I hope.

I am a big fan of Stephen King, and even if he doesn’t always push the envelope in terms of his horror, he is, and always will be, the master. One of his most memorable characters, one that has been responsible for many generations of nightmares, phobias, and birthday party meltdowns, was IT, and its leading man, good old Pennywise the Clown.

Yet as I sat down to write this post, and as it still percolates in my mind today, I have to ask, who really made Pennywise scary?

Was is Stephen King or is it the combination of Tommy Lee Wallace and Tim Curry who truly added the fear factor to everybody’s least favorite party act?

Arguably, without King’s novel then there would never have been the role to play, but I don’t mean it on that level, but simply, when we think of IT, when we think about clowns that scare us, do we think of King’s words, or Wallace direction and Curry’s grand performance?

After all, IT is not a clown, the clown is merely a suit IT wears when hunting, especially for children.

Is this what you see when the name IT is mentioned?


or do you find your mind casting back to poor George, and our first literary introduction to one of King’s greatest villains.

He was wearing a baggy silk suit with great big orange buttons. A bright tie, electric-blue, flopped down his front, and on his hands were big white gloves, like the kind Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck always wore.

Yes, sure,’ George said, looking into the stormdrain.

And a balloon? I’ve got red and green and yellow and blue…’

Do they float?’

Float?’ The clown’s grin widened. ‘Oh yes, indeed they do. They float! And there’s cotton candy…’

George reached.

The clown seized his arm.

And George saw the clown’s face change. What he saw then was terrible enough to make his worst imaginings of the thing in the cellar look like sweet dreams; what he saw destroyed his sanity in one clawing stroke.

2 thoughts on “Who made Pennywise Scary: Stephen King or Tommy Lee Wallace

  1. I love Curry, but I have to go with King on this one. I love both the movie and book, but his rendering of Pennywise was the ultimate in childhood torture. Good thing clowns never bothered me. 🙂

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