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Bozo the ClownBozo the Clown - Popular red-haired clown featured on Capitol Records, animated cartoons and syndicated versions of BOZO THE CLOWN (BOZO'S BIG TOP) since the 1950s. Bozo is a circus clown with large floppy collar, red nose and red hair that shoots from the sides of his head like a pair of red horns. In 1946 Alex W. Livingston created Bozo the Clown for Capitol Records in Hollywood for the children's storytelling record album and read-along book "Bozo at the Circus" To accompany the record's sound track, Livingston hired a former circus clown named Pinto Colvig to perform the voices on the record and later in 1949 to act the part of Bozo on the television series BOZO'S CIRCUS on KTTV (CBS) in Los Angeles.

The popularity of the Bozo character catapulted to the forefront when Larry Harmon, one of several actors hired to portray Bozo, formed a business partnership with Livingston and licensed the rights to the Bozo character. Within a few years, Harmon (who once said "Wouldn't it be a great world if all the people dressed like Bozos?") had franchised the Bozo idea to local stations nationwide using a local celebrity Bozo the Clown. By 1966 Bozo could be seen on more than 240 stations and in over forty countries. Here are some of the people who played Bozo across the country:

  • Frank Avruch (1959-70 WHDH Boston)
  • Bob Bell (1960-84 WGN Chicago)
  • Bill Britten (1959-64 WPIX New York)
  • Pinto Colvig (1946-mid 50s KTTV Los Angeles)
  • Vance Colvig, Jr. (1959-64 KTLA Los Angeles)
  • Jim Chapin (1955-56 WHBQ Memphis)
  • Joey D'Auria (1984-2001 WGN Chicago)
  • Willard Scott (1959-62 WRC Washington, D.C.)

One of the longest Bozo franchises debuted on WGN-TV in Chicago on June 20, 1960. Hosted by Bob Bell as Bozo the Clown, it featured a half-hour show - weekdays to noon - filled with cartoons, game contests, circus acts and comedy sketches geared to children.

After 40 years on the air Bozo left WGN-TV on a final primetime special entitled "Bozo: 40 Years of Fun!" taped on June 12, 2001 and aired on July 14, 2001.

The Bozo the Clown character is still successfully syndicated worldwide and the Bozo character has even earned its own page in the world of urban legends.

Bozo the Clown Cartoon

In 1959, Larry Harmon produced a syndicated cartoon series called BOZO THE CLOWN ("The World's Most Famous Clown"). It featured Bozo the Clown and his circus sidekick, Butchy Boy. Harmon provided the voices for both characters.

TRIVIA NOTE: The name of "Bozo" is derived from an old European word for "Court Jester").

The WGN-TV Bozo the Clown character played by Bob Bell in Chicago was allegedly the inspiration for the voice of Krusty the Clown character (performed by Dan Castellaneta) on the animated series THE SIMPSONS.

According to one urban legend, once on a live TV broadcast of the BOZO THE CLOWN,  a local Bozo the Clown host was verbally put-down by an unhappy child who didn't win the prizes he wanted.  Apparently, the boy lost his chance at winning big cache of prizes when he failed to toss all three ping pong balls into a barrel (he got two) during the segment of the program called Bozo's Treasure Chest.

After the show's Ringmaster said "You're never a loser on the Bozo show, you're just an almost winner," he presented the boy with a consolation prize (a towel). The boy looked at the towel, then the Ringmaster and finally Bozo and matter-of-factly registered his disappointment by saying "Cram it, Clown." Bozo quickly replied "That's a Bozo no-no." Of course, this incident never happened, but its a fun story to tell.

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