The self-elected worlds most famous clown takes part in a march dressed in red, white and blue on the LP that most closely captures his animated personality.
DREAM ALONG WITH BOZO
Starring Larry Harmon
NEW Songs and Stories by TVs Favorite Clown
Golden Records LP-96 (12 33 1/3 RPM / Stereo / 1976)
Executive Producer: Arthur Shimkin. Writer: Leonard Adelson. Conductors: Don Ralke, Billy May. Running Time: 35 minutes.
Performers: Larry Harmon (Bozo, Butch, Wacko Wolf, Circus Boss, Kooky Coyote, Big Shorty, Short Biggie, Professor Tweety Foofer).
Dream Segments: Dream Along with Bozo (Introduction), Bozo in the Army, Bozo in Outer Space, Fun for All, Bozo Discovers America, Whistling in the West, A Good Lesson, Around the World with Bozo, Keep Dreaming.
Songs: Dream Along with Bozo, Ding Dong Dandy Time, Were Americans, Bozos Marching Song, Bozo’s Pocket Rocket, Find a Star of Your Own, Bozo’s Hobby Song, Goin to the Zoo, Keep Your Eyes Open, How! Bozos Magic Whistle, The Wild and Wooly West, The Good Guy Always Wins, Be Careful, Bozo’s Holiday, Honorable Bozo, Belinda’s Rainy Day, Wowee! by Lenny Adelson, Jerry Livingston.
The character of Bozo the Clown was created and produced for Capitol Records by Alan W. Livingston, and brought to life by Pinto Colvig. When the childrens record business began to wane, actor/entrepreneur Larry Harmon purchased the rights to use the character on TV and merchandise, launching a baby boomer era empire. Taking a page from early local and national live childrens programs like Super Circus and Howdy Doody, Harmon made Bozo the host of a circus-style variety show with an audience of kids and a small stock company who doubled as costumed characters.
Harmon took the format a step further and packaged Bozo – whom he dubbed “The Worlds Most Famous Clown” – as a lucrative franchise. Individual stations could produce in their own towns with materials and training supplied by Harmon’s company. This included a huge library of five-minute cartoons produced in 1958 and 1962.
These cartoons gave every show a sense of continuity between cities. Every Bozo pretending that he himself along with other characters such as Professor Tweedy Foofer was the same entity that viewers saw in the films. Whether or not kids actually believed it was another matter, but it was a clever conceit. The cartoons were among several high-volume cartoon series created in the late 50s/early 60s designed for the voracious daily needs of syndicated TV, like Popeye (some of which Harmon also produced), Mister Magoo, The New Adventures of Pinocchio and The Dick Tracy Show.
The Bozo cartoons bear resemblances to the five-minute TV shorts by Hanna-Barbera, UPA and especially later work by Filmation, which is no coincidence since one of the animators on the Bozo cartoons was Hal Sutherland, with backgrounds by Ervin Kaplan and layouts by Lou Scheimer, all of who became key Filmation players.Harmon, whom the lofty Dream Along with Bozo LP liner notes dubs a man of one thousand and one voices for such famous commercials as Kellogg’s, Ford, Oldsmobile plus hundreds more, provides the voices for the Golden record. He also narrated several Little Golden Book and Wonder Book sets, including Pinocchio, Bozo Finds a Friend and Bozo the Clown (based on the cartoon, The Beast with the Least). On the cartoon themselves, Paul Frees shared most of the voice duties with Harmon.
As far as the songs and musical background, the album is high quality. Jerry Livingston co-wrote all the songs for Disneys Cinderella, “The Unbirthday Song” from Alice in Wonderland and “This is It” from The Bugs Bunny Show, to name just a few. Lenny Adelson was also one of Hollywood’s best and did the lyrics for The Incredible Mr. Limpet songs, which we covered a few weeks back, the record for which had the same conductor, Don Ralke. He also was the musical director for Snoopy, Come Home, and there are similarities in the arrangements on this album.
The subjects covered on the album are pretty much the same as the ones Bozo handled on both the live action and animated segments of his TV show: cowboys and Indians, space travel, zoo animals, etc. Being a 65-year-old record, some of it is non-PC enough to elicit a few Bozo-no-nos today.
Whatever its relative strengths and Bozo-no-no challenges, the ingenuity of the whole Bozo enterprise in an early TV and merchandising sense is pretty impressive. Shopping malls and grocery stores brimmed with Bozo balloon machines. Red, white and blue Bozo toys lined the shelves. We never quite knew when we became such ol pals with Bozo, or what made him so world-famous, but he was ubiquitous for well over a decade–and for several decades in Chicago, where he was a downright institution and kids were signed up for tickets at birth. Wowee-kazowee, Bozo was downright transcendent, kids!