Man who played Chicago's Bozo dies

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Postby Rene Clement » 07/03/08 07:25 PM

Larry Harmon, who turned the character Bozo the Clown into a show business staple that delighted children for more than a half-century, died Thursday of congestive heart failure. He was 83.

I once put on Youtube a series of very funny magic bloopers by Larry on his live Bozo show. WGN in Chicago made me take it down.
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Postby mai-ling » 07/03/08 08:43 PM

Just read this on the front page of the
NW Herald (local paper).

This is an interesting turn for my friend
who has been compiling the first 10 years
of Bozo the Capital Clown book.
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Postby Necromancer » 07/03/08 10:15 PM

Not to be a stickler, but Chicago's original Bozo died in 1997.

Although Larry Harmon created the Bozo franchise and aggressively marketed the property through independent kiddie shows in major markets around the country, he was never the much-beloved Chicago Bozo. That role was originated in 1960 by Bob Bell, character actor and WGN-TV announcer.

The only other Chicago Bozo was Joey D'Auria, who took over the role When Mr. Bell retired in 1984. D'Auria is alive and doing acting work in film, TV, and theater.

Interesting bit of trivia: Bob Bell was the only clown ever to be inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame without wearing his makeup. The reason: Larry Harmon owned the rights to the makeup and wouldn't let Bell wear it to the ceremony. Nice guy.

Best,
Neil
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 07/03/08 10:25 PM

I'll go with Larry Harmon as THE Bozo. Harmon's vision is what made it work. Good guy.
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Postby Necromancer » 07/03/08 10:32 PM

Don't ever say that in Chicago, Kevin. It's for your own protection.

Best,
Neil
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 07/03/08 11:09 PM

And Vice Versa in NYC. ;)
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Postby mai-ling » 07/04/08 12:16 AM

Alan Livingston created the character of Bozo.
Owned by Capitol Records.
The character was actually called
"Bozo the Capitol Clown"
(It was only for the first 10 years, I believe)
Then Larry Harmon purchased the rights.
Changed the name to "Bozo the Clown"
Marketed the character into what we know of it today.


I have footage from the Chicago market, of late 1960's
that were transferred from 16mm. One of them, you can
see Bob Bell in his red costume.

Its on my music space's video section.

The Chicago market was a huge launching point for so
many magicians and entertainers in general.
Not just for those who lived in Chicago either.

Dad was the very first magician to perform.
He was the 4th performer the week they started to
have regular live entertainers on the show.
The very first performer was Vic Hyde, the trumpet
player. He can play 3-4 trumpets at the same time.
I don't know who was 2 and 3. If curious, I can
ask Dad.

I think Dad and Uncle Jay are close to tied for
the almost the most appearances on the show.

Its amazing how many people remember and recognize
him from his many appearances on there.
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Postby David Alexander » 07/04/08 01:40 AM

Alan Livingston was the president of Capital Records and created Bozo who was voiced on the first read-along record in 1946 by Pinto Colvig. In 1949 Bozo appeared on KTTV, Channel 11 in Los Angeles and I was watching. Pinto made more read-along record albums. I have several of them. Pinto played Bozo until 1956 or so. If Pinto's voice sounded familiar, it was because he was also the voice of Disney's Goofy. I knew his son, Vance Colvig, who played Nutsy the Clown, on his own early TV show in LA. Vance was a lovely guy and a fine character actor in his own right. Vance (or more accurately Vance Colvig Jr) also played Bozo on LA TV from 1959 to around 1964, working for Larry Harmon who owned the rights by then.

When Capital Records got out of children's entertainment, they sold the rights to Larry Harmon who was a master marketer. Unfortunately, Larry also took as much credit as he could for creating Bozo, ignorning Livingston and Pinto's participation. He would later claim that he'd been "mis-quoted." It was baloney. He just took the credit until he was called out.

I knew Harmon because he owned the rights to the images of Laurel and Hardy. I brokered a deal with him so my wife (a portrait artist) could do a collector plate of the two comedians. Bozo (and L&H) had made Harmon wealthy. He lived in a condo on Wilshire Blvd in a wealthy section of Los Angeles in a high rise. His condo was the entire floor. It had to be that large to contain his ego.
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Postby mai-ling » 07/04/08 08:27 AM

Pinto (I believe) also acted in the full length movies.

I had an opportunity to see one of the rare ones
when I produced a lecture on Bozo the Capitol
Clown turns 60


My friend Tom, who has been working on this book
for along time now. Has profiled many of the Bozo
actors, as well as the acts in the movies, and
the actors.

He's actually working two books.
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Postby Doug Thornton » 04/10/09 07:39 AM

I didn't find this in a search - Alan Livingston, who was instrumental in bringing Bozo, the Beatles and "Bonanza" to the world, passed away last month.

From the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/17/arts/ ... html?fta=y
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