King wanted to write a big book about monsters. His idea included the wolf man, the vampire, and the mummy. But he needed a character who could bind all of them together. Because his protagonists are children in the first half of the book, he wanted something that would be frightening to kids. This is how Pennywise the Dancing Clown was born.
In 1990, ABC created a miniseries of IT starring Harry Anderson (Richie Tozier), Dennis Christopher (Eddie Kaspbrak), Richard Masur (Stanley Uris), Annette O'Toole (Beverly Marsh), Tim Reid (Mike Hanlon), John Ritter (Ben Hanscom), Richard Thomas (Bill Denbrough), Michael Cole (Henry Bowers), and Tim Curry (Pennywise). The show was a hit due to the efforts of Tim Curry. He became, and still is, the quintessential Pennywise.
In 2017, a new Pennywise will appear on the big screen. IT has been "rebooted" and the story has been split between two theatrical pictures. The first half features the young Losers Club and their first meetings with the evil that is IT. The second film features the adults and their final confrontation.
Bill Skarsgard (son of actor Stellan Skarsgard and cast member of such TV series as Hemlock Grove, and such films as the Divergent Series: Allegiant) will pick up Curry's mantle and take on the character of Pennywise. He was chosen because of his unique approach to the role. Can he equal Curry in terms of terror? Only time will tell.
Pennywise is a powerful symbol of evil. Some have suggested that recent clown sightings around the nation have come as part of a publicity stunt involving the new film. Whether this is true or not, it demonstrates how the human psyche is affected by the frightening visage of a clown.
And so, like the Losers Club, thirty years later we must deal with Pennywise again. Let's hope he's as scary now as he was back then.