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Wheeler the Clown Wheeler the CLOWN               Presents A CLOWN Biography:

Bozo

Animated Bozo the Clown

the Clown

From the Beginning

All Pictures on this page are courtesty of WGN-TV

1946

Alan Livingston and BozoAlan W. Livingston, who would one day receive the Clown Hall of Fame Lifetime of Laughter Achievement Award, created the Bozo the Clown character (which Bob would later make famous), for children's recordings and small books, the first being a record entitled Bozo and the Circus. The name came from the tradition of circuses calling clowns Bozos. Bozo needed a voice so Livingston hired a former circus clown, Pinto Colvig, to portray Bozo on the recordings and at promotional appearances. Colvig was the original voice of many of Walt Disney's creations (i.e. Goofy, Pluto, Grumpy, and Sleepy) and other animated characters.

1950

Pinto Colvig was the first Bozo the Clown Creator Alan Livingston and Capitol Records began setting up royalties with with television stations and manufacturers who wanted to use the Bozo character. KTTV (CBS) in Los Angeles broadcasted the first Bozo television show, Bozo's Circus. It was a weekly live 30-minute program.  Bozo has remained a television favorite in many areas right into the 21st Century. Bozo's Circus starred Pinto Colvig Sr., the original Bozo (above left) , but several others have been behind Bozo's makeup over the years.

Syd Saylor as BozoCapitol Records also made thirteen 30 minute Bozo shows, starring Syd Saylor as Bozo (right), and Bozo creator Alan Livingston as the ringmaster. Acrobats from Jimmy Woods‘ All-American Circus acted as Bozo stunt doubles.. 

1950

Pinto Colvig was the first Bozo the Clown KTTV (CBS) in Los Angeles ended its broadcast of Bozo's Circus, starring Pinto Colvig Sr. Capital Records, which had also created several Bozo shows for television, shut down its television division.

1955

One of the Bozos - Jim ChapinThe next Bozo the Clown television show, Bozo and His Friends, premiered on WHBQ-TV (Memphis). This time the man behind the Bozo makeup was Jim Chapin. The television show was cancelled the following year when the legal rights to the Bozo the Clown character changed hands.

1956

Larry Harmon formed a partnership that purchased the rights (except for records) to the Bozo Larry Harmonthe Clown character, and turned it into a nationwide franchise He often took over the role of Bozo the Clown which he had been occasionally hired in the past to play at promotionals, and credits himself as training over 200 Bozo the Clowns.

1958

Larry HarmonSeveral Bozo cartoons were made for distribution to television stations all over the country along with the rights to hire a live Bozo host to introduce them. The voice of the cartoon Bozo was Bozo's owner, Larry Harmon.

1959

The Bozo the Clown Show began to air all over the nation, beginning with Bill Britten, one of the many actors to protray Bozo the ClownKTLA-TV in Los Angeles, as individual television stations purchased franchises. Each station had its own actor portraying Bozo the Clown, such as Pinto Colvig, Jr. (son of the original Bozo) at KTLA and Bill Britten (left) who was Bozo for WPIX in New York. Although each local Bozo looked slightly different, each wore the traditional pointed tufts yak hair wig.  Over the years, the name of the shows have changed slightly (i.e. Bozo's Circus, Bozo and his Friends,etc.).

1960

Bob Bell as Bozo the Clown Bob Bell took over the role of Bozo the Clown for WGN-TV in Chicago. (WGN-TV aired the longest running Bozo show in history, 50 years). He performed the role until 1984, becoming one of the most famous and beloved portrayers of the character to date, leading to Bob's selection as a Clown Hall of Fame inductee.

1963

Bozo's Circus Bozo the Clown starring Bob Bell (WGN-TV) received its first Emmy award. (It won the Emmy again in 1965.)

Larry HarmonFrank Avruch as Bozo the ClownLarry Harmon (left) bought out his partners and became the sole owner of the rights to the Bozo the Clown character (except for the record rights, which were still held by Capital Records). Harmon syndicated 130 episodes of a Boston Bozo's Circus television show (re-titled Bozo's Big Top) for stations that wanted Bozo, but didn't want to produce their own shows. It is said that Harmon preferred Frank Avruch's portrayal of Bozo (right) and wanted to have him play the role exclusively, but the various stations that already had their own people behind the makeup objected.   

1967

Pinto Colvig was the first Bozo the Clown

Vance Debar "Pinto" Colvig Sr., the original Bozo the Clown, died.   (born 1892)

1970

Bob "Bozo" Bell in original red suit Bob Bell as Bozo the ClownBob Bell  received an Emmy award for his portrayal of Bozo the Clown. This was also the year of a major change in Bob's "Bozo" costume. It was changed from red to blue.  

1970

Larry HarmonBozo - Picture KThe Larry Harmon Pictures Corporation purchased Capital Records' copyright to the Bozo the Clown records. Harmon now owned the exclusive rights to every facet of Bozo the Clown.

1978

Bob Bell as Bozo the Clown WGN-TV began to broadcast via satellite, and Bob Bell's Bozo the Clown became a familiar face to children and adults throughout the United States.  

1984

Bob Bell as Bozo the Clown Bob Bell (left) retired from portraying Bozo the Clown - Joey D'AuriaBozo the Clown  on WGN-TV, Chicago. At this time, The Bozo Show was number one in its local time slot. After a three month talent search, Joey D'Auria (right) was chosen to take over the role of Bozo, and remained in that role until the show's sad demise in 2001.

Bozo the ClownBozo the Clown - Joey D'Auria ran for President of the United States. (hope he runs and wins next time; clowns have morals, and know how to lose gracefully!)

1991

Pinto Colvig Jr. as BozoVance "Pinto" Colvig Jr., who was the son of the original Bozo the Clown and who portrayed Bozo himself for a number of years, died. (born 1919)

         

1997

Bob Bell's Obituary

Bob "Bozo" Bell died of heart failure. (click on picture for larger view)

1998

 Bozo the Clown - Joey D'Auria

Joey "Bozo" D'Auria received another Emmy award for his television portrayal of Bozo the Clown.

Alan LivingstonAlan Livingston, creator of Bozo the Clown, received the Clown Hall of Fame Lifetime of Laughter Achievement Award.

1999

WZZM-TV, Grand Rapids, aired it's final episode of Bozo's Bigtop, making WGN-TV, Chicago, the only station in the world to still be airing a live "Bozo the Clown" Show.

2001

Bozo the Clown - Joey D'AuriaThe Bozo Show aired its last episode, a celebration of the last 40 years on WGN-TV. It starred Emmy award winner Joey D'Auria, who has been the man behind Bozo's makeup at WGN-TV, Chicago, for the past 17 years.


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     This Page was updated on: 08/13/2004