Who's Your Favorite Clown?


No discussion of Chicago Children's TV could begin without due homage to "the man," or more accurately, "the clown."  


Bozo Cast c. 1966

Monday, September 11th, 1961, "Bozo's Circus" is on the air! The original cast included Ringmaster Ned (Locke), Bob Trendler and his (13-piece) Big Top Band, Bozo (Bob Bell), Sandy the Tramp (Don Sandburg) and Oliver O. Oliver (Ray Rayner).  


In 1968, Don Sandburg "Sandy the Tramp" leaves to produce the Hanna Barbera show, "The Banana Splits." The same year, Marshall Brodien "a professional magician" brings his Stone of Zanzibar to the Bozo show as "Wizzo the Wizard."


In 1969 Roy Brown, creator of "Romberg Rabbit" and voice of Cuddly Duddly, joins the cast as "Cooky."


In 1971, Ray Rayner leaves WGN-TV's "Bozo's Circus" and on January 21, 2004 Ray Rayner (born Rahner) dies in Ft. Myers, Florida at age 84.


Ned Locke retires in 1976 and in 1992, Norbert Stoyke "Ned" Locke dies on February 4th. Frazier Thomas takes over in a similar role (manager) when Garfield Goose buys the circus from Ringmaster Ned.


Who's your 1984 favorite clown?

The sketch "How Fat is He," written by Chris Miksanek, is performed on the show on September 15, 1983. Miksanek writes a total of xxx scripts for the show under producer Allen Hall. (Read my observations of touring the Bozo prop room.)


Bob Bell retires in 1984, and on December 8, 1997, he dies at the age of 75. (Read WGN's tribute to Bob Bell.) Joey D'Auria takes over the role of Bozo presumably proclaiming he has big shoes to fill.


William Frazier Thomas dies on April 3rd, 1985.   


In 1994, the show is moved to Sunday morning as the two hour, "Bozo Super Sunday Show." The same year, Wizzo doodie-doodie's for the last time and leaves the show.


In October 25 2000, an ailing Roy Brown tapes his last appearance as "Cooky the Clown," and on January 22, 2001, Roy Thomas Brown dies at age 68 in Chicago, Illinois.


On June 12, 2001, the final Bozo show is taped, "Bozo: 40 Years of Fun,'' which airs on July 14.


On August 26th, 2001, "Bozo Circus is off the air," as Mr. Ned might have said. The final Bozo show, a rerun, is broadcast.



I toured the WGN studios with Allen Hall in 1983 and found the prop warehouse worthy of mention.

Read about it here.


Bozo MUST-HAVEs: (apologies for the dead links, this site is still under re-construction)

bullet The Bozo Show theme from Ron Kurer's Toon Tracker.
bullet Christmas Classic Videos: Hardrock, Coco and Joe, et. al.. from Ron Kurer's Toon Tracker.
bullet Christmas Classic Videos: Hardrock, Coco and Joe, et. al.. from WGN.
bullet The Bozo Cartoon from Ron Kurer's Toon Tracker.


Bozo-related Links (apologies for the dead links, this site is still under re-construction)

bulletThe Bozo timeline from WGN
bullet Bozo images from WGN
bullet Bozo video clips from WGN
bulletThe Bozo "Who's Who" Page from WGN
bullet Quicktime excerpts from the Bozo Show from the Library of Broadcast Communications.
bullet Roy "Cooky the Cook" Brown is in the clown hall of fame.
bullet One fan's brush with the clown!



The Grand Prize Game (aka Bozo's Buckets)

Of course now we have "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," but back "in the day," we just wanted a crack at that Schwinn String-Ray bicycle and the load of silver dollars in bucket number six.






WGN's Friend In-Deed award

These community service awards were awarded monthly by Bozo.


    WGN TV's Friend In-Deed Award

  December, 1980 Friend In-Deed: Chicago Police Officer Gary Calabrese


Bozo Legend(s):
"Cram-it clownie"
Did some wise-mouth little kid on the Grand Prize Game ever tell Bozo what he could do with that big shoe of his?


Was it an urban legend or is it true as TV Guide's TV Confidential asserts that, "During a Bozo the Clown show, a disappointed kid told Bozo, 'Cram it, clown!'" But most UL we sites say it's an urban legend: "Larry Harmon has some credibility issues, however. First of all, although Harmon stated that he's been 'asked about the story for years'" he apparently didn't start claiming it was true until it had been circulating for nearly three decades. Most importantly, the details of this incident as recalled by Harmon don't check out: the Boston Bozo show had no "ringmaster," and no one else connected with the show (including the man who portrayed the Boston Bozo from 1958 to 1970, Frank Avruch) remembers anything about it."


You decide.


All material presented here is Copyright 1998, 2005 Chris Miksanek or its respective copyright owner.
Last updated: May 21, 2005