Essentially, he followed in his father's footsteps. His old man, Emmett Kelly Sr., was a famous clown in his own time, even made a few movies; played a homicidal clown in the 1951 detective picture, The Fat Man, and played himself in Cecil B. DeMille's epic circus flick, (and 1952 Best Picture Oscar winner) The Greatest Show On Earth.
Kelly Jr. had his own circus when he retired from clowning in 2004, and he bought this little house in Tombstone. It sits on a hillside overlooking the town, on the road out to where the silver was being mined, back in the day. The house itself has a bit of a history, aside from the Kelly connection. It was built in the 1880s for a mine superintendent. In 1902, the man's wife and daughter were murdered in the living room by a madman, a crazy miner who worked for the superintendent. As far as I can determine, the killer was never apprehended.
Emmett Kelly Jr. died of pneumonia on November 29, 2006 in the hospital in Sierra Vista, 20 miles or so from Tombstone. He was 83. He's buried in the Veteran's Cemetery on the grounds at Fort Huachuca.
Postscript: In 1979, Kelly's son Paul was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder in San Diego, California. It was a classic case of schizophrenic dual-personality. His murderous alter ego: a killer clown. Seriously. (Now doing 25-to-life in San Quentin... )
Last word: A Tombstone pal of mine went to a party at Emmett Kelly's house one time. He told me that he mainly remembered Kelly sitting in a chair in the corner, an old man surrounded by friends, a cannula in his nose, an oxygen bottle at his side, a cigarette in his hand... That, and a story Kelly told about the place being haunted.
Sometimes, he said, when you're sitting out on the porch you'll be pelted with pebbles. Pebbles. A gentle rain of itty-bitty rocks that falls at you out of the sky. It seemed more mischievous than anything else, the old man thought, like it was maybe a visit from that long ago mine superintendent's little girl...