Monday, August 16, 2010

"Bozo The Clown": The Man Behind The Nose

2010 is the 50th anniversary of WGN TV Chicago's "BOZO TV" show.

To celebrate, a number of BOZO collaborators will gather in Chicago Tues., Aug. 17, to commemorate the occasion and attend the first book signing @ Borders on Michigan Avenue, for the autobiography of the late Larry Harmon, "The Man Behind The Nose", available from Igniter Books, an imprint of It Books/HarperCollins.

"This beloved children's personality helped cement our city's reputation for being at the forefront of excellence in broadcasting," said Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Bozo was created in 1946 by Alan W. Livingston, who produced a children's storytelling record-album/illustrative read-along book set, titled "Bozo at the Circus" for Capitol Records. Actor Pinto Colvig portrayed the character on this and subsequent Bozo records.

The character became a mascot for the record company and was later nicknamed "Bozo the Capitol Clown."

In 1956, Larry Harmon, one of several actors hired by Livingston and Capitol Records to portray Bozo at promotional appearances, formed a business partnership and bought the licensing rights, renamed the character "Bozo, The World’s Most Famous Clown" and modified the voice, laugh and costume.

Harmon worked with a wig stylist to get the wing-tipped bright orange style and look of the hair that had previously appeared in Capitol's Bozo comic books.

Harmon then started his own animation studio and distributed (through Jayark Films Corporation) a series of cartoons, to TV stations, along with the rights for each to hire its own live Bozo host, beginning with KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, January 5, 1959, starring Vance Colvig, Jr., son of the original "Bozo the Clown.

The first ever BOZO show of any note and longevity was aired on WGN's sister station, KTLA-TV, Ch. 5 in Los Angeles, the city where all things BOZO, from recordings at Capitol Records to merchandise from Mattel, to training of BOZO talent for TV shows all over the world, including Thailand and Brazil, were created for half a decade.

Over 200 actors around the world followed Harmon as the 'BOZO" character, creating over 10,000 hours of BOZO shows, which still play globally on TV andDVDs, along with hundreds of BOZO toys.