The Summer Of Death continues over the holiday weekend with the reported deaths of two famous American clowns.
First, former Senator Jess Helms, Republican from the great state of North Carolina, finally responded to the will of the people and died at age 86. He was perhaps most famous for trying to filibuster the Senate's vote on making Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a national holiday in 1983. He likely represented the views of many of his constituents during his early terms of office but perhaps they continued to evolve on social and racial issues where he did not.
More significantly, how about that Bozo The Clown?
From the Associated Press report, "Larry Harmon wasn't the original Bozo the Clown, but he was the real one. Harmon, who portrayed the wing-haired clown for more than half a century, died Thursday of congestive heart failure, said his publicist, Jerry Digney. He was 83.
As an entrepreneur, Harmon licensed the character to others, particularly dozens of television stations around the country. The stations in turn hired actors to be their local Bozos..."
Some fun facts I learned about Bozo from his obituary:
1. Pinto Colvig, who provided the voice for Walt Disney's Goofy, was the first Bozo the Clown, a character created by writer-producer Alan W. Livingston for a series of children's records in 1946.
2. Bozo wore size 83AAA shoes!
3. The business — combining animation, licensing of the character and personal appearances — made millions, as Harmon trained more than 200 Bozos over the years to represent him in local markets.
4. The Chicago version of Bozo ran on WGN-TV in Chicago for 40 years and was seen in many other cities after cable television transformed WGN into a superstation.
And my favorite, 5. Bozo — portrayed in Chicago for many years by Bob Bell — was so popular that the waiting list for tickets to a TV show eventually stretched to a decade, prompting the station to stop taking reservations for 10 years. On the day in 1990 when WGN started taking reservations again, it took just five hours to book the show for five more years. The phone company reported more than 27 million phone call attempts had been made.
While reflecting on Bozo, I was wondering, "Are there are any local children's shows anymore?". There used to be hundreds on television, including many that even went national like Romper Room, Shari Lewis, and Captain Kangaroo. And of course, the majority that did not, like Seattle kids' show legends J.P Patches or Stan Boreson. Does anyone know of any still being made today?