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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    Bozo the Clown, dead at 83

    LOS ANGELES - 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.

    His publicist, Jerry Digney, told The Associated Press he died at his home.

    Although not the original Bozo, Harmon portrayed the popular clown in countless appearances and, as an entrepreneur, he licensed the character to others, particularly dozens of television stations around the country. The stations in turn hired actors to be their local Bozos.



    "You might say, in a way, I was cloning BTC (Bozo the Clown) before anybody else out there got around to cloning DNA," Harmon told the AP in a 1996 interview.

    "Bozo is a combination of the wonderful wisdom of the adult and the childlike ways in all of us," Harmon said.

    Pinto Colvig, who also provided the voice for Walt Disney's Goofy, originated Bozo the Clown when Capitol Records introduced a series of children's records in 1946. Harmon would later meet his alter ego while answering a casting call to make personal appearances as a clown to promote the records.

    He got that job and eventually bought the rights to Bozo. Along the way, he embellished Bozo's distinctive look: the orange-tufted hair, the bulbous nose, the outlandish red, white and blue costume.

    "I felt if I could plant my size 83AAA shoes on this planet, (people) would never be able to forget those footprints," he said.

    Susan Harmon, his wife of 29 years, indicated Harmon was the perfect fit for Bozo.

    "He was the most optimistic man I ever met. He always saw a bright side; he always had something good to say about everybody. He was the love of my life," she said Thursday.

    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.

    "I'm looking for that sparkle in the eyes, that emotion, feeling, directness, warmth. That is so important," he said of his criteria for becoming a Bozo.

    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.

    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.

    By the time the show bowed out in Chicago, in 2001, it was the last locally produced version. Harmon said at the time that he hoped to develop a new cable or network show, as well as a Bozo feature film.

    He became caught up in a minor controversy in 2004 when the International Clown Hall of Fame in Milwaukee took down a plaque honoring him as Bozo and formally endorsed Colvig for creating the role. Harmon denied ever misrepresenting Bozo's history.

    He said he was claiming credit only for what he added to the character "What I sound like, what I look like, what I walk like" and what he did to popularize Bozo.

    "Isn't it a shame the credit that was given to me for the work I have done, they arbitrarily take it down, like I didn't do anything for the last 52 years," he told the AP at the time.

    Harmon protected Bozo's reputation with a vengeance, while embracing those who poked good-natured fun at the clown.

    As Bozo's influence spread through popular culture, his very name became a synonym for clownish behavior.

    "It takes a lot of effort and energy to keep a character that old fresh so kids today still know about him and want to buy the products," Karen Raugust, executive editor of The Licensing Letter, a New York-based trade publication, said in 1996.

    A normal character runs its course in three to five years, Raugust said. "Harmon's is a classic character. It's been around 50 years."

    On New Year's Day 1996, Harmon dressed up as Bozo for the first time in 10 years, appearing in the Rose Parade in Pasadena.

    The crowd reaction, he recalled, "was deafening."

    "They kept yelling, `Bozo, Bozo, love you, love you.' I shed more crocodile tears for five miles in four hours than I realized I had," he said. "I still get goose bumps."

    Born in Toledo, Ohio, Harmon became interested in theater while studying at the University of Southern California.

    "Bozo is a star, an entertainer, bigger than life," Harmon once said. "People see him as Mr. Bozo, somebody you can relate to, touch and laugh with."

    Besides his wife, Harmon is survived by his son, Jeff Harmon, and daughters Lori Harmon, Marci Breth-Carabet and Leslie Breth.
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack. -- Gen. George S. Patton

  2. #2
    Atomic Punk Viking's Avatar
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    Kind of a bummer. As a rule, clowns creep me out, but Bozo never did.

    I had two dogs I named "Bozo" when I was a kid, because I liked Bozo the Clown so much.

    Shitty thing for the International Clown Hall of Fame to take down his plaque. Assholes. See if I ever go there again!
    "Viking - last to sleep, first to rise, last to leave, that's how the Nords of old rocked the house." ~ timmac in the 'Texas Linkers' thread talking about yours truly. :-)

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk edwardv's Avatar
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    Stu Kerr did Bozo on Baltimore TV when i was a kid.

  4. #4
    Atomic Punk chefcraig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viking View Post
    Kind of a bummer. As a rule, clowns creep me out, but Bozo never did.
    I wonder if (given our ages, Vike) that had anything to do with watching the shows in black and white when we were kids? That is my memory of the show. I'm fairly certain that a "technicolor Bozo" would have freaked me out just as much as any other clown did/does.

  5. #5
    ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ Number 47's Avatar
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    See Ya!... Bozo!

  6. #6
    Gird your loins Daisy Hill's Avatar
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    delete
    Last edited by Daisy Hill; 07.03.08 at 04:22 PM.

  7. #7
    Johnson Rod Pabs's Avatar
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    I think the Bozo most know of is the one who was on WGN for 20 years.

    http://www.joeydauria.com/
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    The Boston Americans (1901)
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    The Pilgrims/Americans/Somersets whatever you want to call them, have NEVER displayed "SOX" anywhere on their caps, jerseys, or merchandise, therefore they shouldn't be referred to as such. However, the White Sox have used "SOX" since 1912.

    The SOX are in Chicago...we just allow the Pilgrims/Americans/Somersets to use the name.

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  8. #8
    Gird your loins Daisy Hill's Avatar
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    dang vovoid, you're fast...I got a news update on my screen... logged in here and poof! it was already here!

    I was on the Bozo show in Toledo Ohio around 1967-68. Really....how humiliating is that? Coulda been worse, my cousin was on Romper Room.

    Mostly what I remember is one kid who made an uncouth hand signal at the camera when did the thing where they showed all the smiling faces. Live TV folks! His mama beat him up in the parking lot...wailed on him with her big old handbag!

    Oh, and Bozo wears black dress socks with those little garter thingys.

  9. #9
    Atomic Punk chefcraig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy Hill View Post
    dang Chef, you're fast...I got a news update on my screen... logged in here and poof! it was already here!
    Not me...voivod claims this one.

  10. #10
    Gird your loins Daisy Hill's Avatar
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    I know, I caught that and when I went to edit I ended up with a double post...DELETE

  11. #11
    Atomic Punk Viking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefcraig View Post
    I wonder if (given our ages, Vike) that had anything to do with watching the shows in black and white when we were kids? That is my memory of the show. I'm fairly certain that a "technicolor Bozo" would have freaked me out just as much as any other clown did/does.
    I never thought of that, but I think you're right. I my memories of Bozo are in black and white.

    I have to laugh at the Romper Room thing, Daisy. My cousin was on Romper Room as a kid and promptly started a fight with another kid on the show. My parents were talking about him being on there and that's the first thing my Dad said, "I'll bet he ends up clocking somebody!" He did.
    "Viking - last to sleep, first to rise, last to leave, that's how the Nords of old rocked the house." ~ timmac in the 'Texas Linkers' thread talking about yours truly. :-)

  12. #12
    Atomic Punk
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Harmon

    http://www.larryharmonpictures.com/

    http://www.bozo.com/

    Larry Harmon obtained the rights to the Laurel and Hardy team name and likeness in 1960. His initial idea was to make Laurel and Hardy film cartoons and sell team-related merchandise. He did this with Stan's blessing (before he passed away in 1965), since Stan was aware of unauthorized sales of L&H products.

    Larry Harmon brought his wonderful Laurel & Hardy cartoons to the small screen in 1966. The animated likenesses appeared in 156 cartoons which today are extremely hard to come by. Larry Harmon himself voiced Stan and Jim MacGeorge provided Oliver's vocals.

    The characters also appeared in comic book form, which was very popular in both the United States and all over Europe. In 1972, Scooby Doo and the gang met Laurel and Hardy in their season of hour long THE NEW SCOOBY-DOO MOVIES, in the episode entitled THE GHOST OF BIGFOOT.
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack. -- Gen. George S. Patton

  13. #13
    carpe damn diem billy007's Avatar
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    R.I.P., Mr. Harmon, but I can't bemoan the loss of a clown!

  14. #14
    Atomic Punk
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy Hill View Post
    dang vovoid, you're fast...I got a news update on my screen... logged in here and poof! it was already here!

    I was on the Bozo show in Toledo Ohio around 1967-68. Really....how humiliating is that? Coulda been worse, my cousin was on Romper Room.

    Mostly what I remember is one kid who made an uncouth hand signal at the camera when did the thing where they showed all the smiling faces. Live TV folks! His mama beat him up in the parking lot...wailed on him with her big old handbag!

    Oh, and Bozo wears black dress socks with those little garter thingys.

    Fucking Romper Room Rocked!!!
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack. -- Gen. George S. Patton

  15. #15
    ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ Number 47's Avatar
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    Default %$@# BOZO!

    Where was the Barnaby (Linn Sheldon) thread when he passed?



    & Big Chuck has retired.

 

 

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