Saturday, July 15, 2017

Chicago's Chicken Man, a Maxwell Street performer.

The Chicken Man's real name is Anderson Punch, who went by Casey Jones and was also called Chicken Charley, was a Jawa. Historically, Jawas were wandering junk men and performers who plied their trades on the street corners of Chicago.

Legend has it that the Chicken Man, who described himself as a showman, had played the accordion on the streets for many years prior to his chicken phase. When his accordion was broken, he broadened his repertoire to include the chicken act.

Until his death at 104 years old in 1974, he was well-known throughout the South Side, Maxwell Street Market and the Loop for his big white performing rooster. One reporter wrote, “that chicken could do anything but talk.”

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


  1. My sister found this recently and forwarded it to me. We grew up in West Rogers Park on Campbell near Devon. The Chicken Man showed up on Devon when we were in grade school back around 1959 thru 1962 or so. A crowd of kids would gather to watch. I still remember him saying "Another dime, another show. No dime, no show." Invariably some lady out to shop would donate a dime. I also remember that the chicken (rooster) would drink vodka from the cap of a bottle as part of the act. It was probably water.

  2. The Chicken Man, a much loved regular in our 1950's Chicago neighborhood near Diversey and Broadway, stars in Daniel Pinkwater's magical book: LIZARD MUSIC. Pinkwater, who lived in the neighborhood, captures Chicken Man's humor, kindness, and adds bits of mystery and mysticism.


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