The other night I was watching a rerun of Seinfeld, which I watch often because it’s still funny to me. In this particular episode, George is dating a woman with a kid and she invites him to the kid’s birthday party. There is a clown at the party who’s name is Eric and George, not only thinks that Eric is a bad name for a clown, he also can’t believe that Eric the Clown doesn’t know who Bozo the Clown is. George was absolutely outraged that Eric didn’t know who Bozo is because Bozo is the most famous clown in the world. Eric looks at George and says, “You’re hung up on a clown from the 60s, man!” What a great line!
Then, a small fire breaks out and George panics, runs out the door, knocking over kids and old people. It was hilarious, I LOL’d. I did, I actually LOL’d. Eric the Clown puts the fire out with his shoe.
I also think it was particularly funny to me because I worked for the real Bozo the Clown, not the original, but the one who made Bozo famous. Pinto Colvig, who also provided the voice for Walt Disney’s Goofy, was the original Bozo the Clown. When Larry Harmon answered a casting call to make appearances as Bozo the Clown, the two met, Larry got the job and eventually went on to buy the rights to Bozo. Once he did that, Bozo was everywhere!
“By the late 1960s, Harmon had licensed local Bozo TV shows in nearly every major U.S. market, and across the world.” This was actually a brilliant business move because this was before TV syndication. Not to mention the merchandising. There were so many “products” with the Bozo image on it around the world, he must have made millions. He also trained over 200 Bozos throughout his career. He was a smart man.
The first time I met him he was about 80 years old and came into the office singing some show tune. He was seemingly very happy, and damn well should be after being a clown his whole life. He was so friendly and pleasant, and I immediately liked him. Very larger than life. He reminded me of Santa a little bit, not that I’ve met Santa but I’ve seen enough pictures to know what Santa looks like. You know, if he put on a Santa suit instead of a clown suit. He was semi-retired when I worked there but I always got a kick out of him when he would come into the office, and as would be expected, he had a great sense of humor. His business still had licensing deals in various places, so I was an assistant to his daughter who handled that stuff.
The first thing my dad said when I told him that I was working for Bozo the Clown was, “When he parks his car at work, do a bunch of other clowns hop out?” I think I LOL’d again.
I worked there less than a year, but I liked everyone who worked there, especially my British friend, Jean (shout out!). A very funny broad indeed who shares my love for the Rolling Stones. She told me when he died a few years ago and I was sorry to hear it. I always thought it was pretty amazing that he took the Bozo character and made him so famous worldwide. A clown! An ugly, scary, weird clown! Even the term “Bozo,” as in, “he’s a real Bozo” became famous, albeit calling someone a Bozo isn’t exactly a compliment, but still…I think he ultimately was quite a marketing genius.
Why are clowns so scary?
My two bad clown associations are from the movie, Poltergeist and the book It, by Stephen King. The scary clown doll in Poltergeist grabbed the kid and dragged him under the bed, and in the book It, Pennywise the Clown lived in a sewer or something and killed people. I don’t remember exactly, but let’s face it, we all know clowns are creepy. Ronald McDonald, hello? Ugly and creepy. Are there any cute clowns? I don’t think so. Serial killer, John Wayne Gacy, dressed up as a clown. I guess it wasn’t weird enough to stuff dead bodies in a crawl space, he had to dress up as a clown on the side.
Anyway, not many people can say they worked for a clown, but I can! I guess it doesn’t need to be said that there aren’t many clowns that I’d want to work for either, but Bozo was was of them.
Who would you rather have entertain at your party, Bozo, Ronald McDonald or John Wayne Gacy?
Have a silly day!