Bozo folds his tent4/01/2001 08:00:00 PM Eastern
Competition from kids networks like Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel has led to the end of the 40-year run of WGN-TV Chicago's Bozo the Clown, the last of more-than-200 Bozos that have hosted local daily TV kids shows since 1949. The final Bozo Super Sunday Show, now a weekly, will air Aug. 26. There is also a 40th anniversary program planned for this summer. WGN-TV says that it hopes to continue using Bozo for charity and public-service events and that the charity Bozo Ball is still on for May.
Chicago's Bozo debuted in 1961 and became the longest-running locally produced kids show, according to WGN-TV. Its popularity was such that tickets to the show were sometimes given as baby-shower gifts since there was a five- to nine-year wait to get on the show. For the first 23 years, Bozo was played by the late Bob Bell, who was succeeded by the current Bozo, Joey D'Auria. Famous Bozos in other cities include: Pinto Colvig-also the voice of Disney's Goofy-who brought creator and Capital Records' exec Alan Livingston's character to life in 1949 on records and at KTTV-TV Los Angeles; Williard Scott at WRC-TV Washington; Bill Britten on WPIX(TV) New York; and Larry Harmon, a former Tennessee Bozo who purchased the rights to the character in 1956 and became proprietor of the franchise. Demonstrating the character's staying power, Pinto Colvig's son, Vance, also played Bozo on KTLA Los Angeles.