July 4, 2017 posted by Greg Ehrbar

Bozo the Clown Goes on the “Record” about America

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.

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.

(Click To Enlarge)

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!

Bozo in the Army: Were Americans / Bozo’s Marching Song

Like Pagliacci before him, Bozo’s somber gravitas is masked by chipper cheer as he makes this bittersweet plea for unity in these troubled times.

What is a Bozo? William Shatner

This is from Larry Harmon’s last album, Get Down with the Clown, a 2003 CD featuring Shatner, Tony Danza and other luminaries, as well as the marching band from Harmon’s alma mater, USC. Ever the entrepreneur, Harmon was attempting to turn the negative No Bozo’s phrase (which often accompanied his copyrighted character image) into a positive. To quote TV Guide, William Shatner’s acting talents are showcased.


  • That was Bozo’s last album that Larry Harmon produced before his death in 2003 with the Spirit of Troy The USC Trojan Marching Band. Larry Harmon (aka as Lawrence Weiss) was the drum major for the USC Trojan Band in the late 1940s. I had the honor to meet and preform with Larry Harmon during the USC Homecoming game with the USC Trojan Alumni Band as he was honored and along side with Bozo conducted the USC band in a rousing rendition of the Bozo Theme Song.

  • Very interesting this text about Bozo. As a curiosity to my American friends, I can say that the famous clown was a huge success here in Brazil, throughout the 1980s, becoming an icon of this period in my country. Soon in August, in the Brazilian theaters, comes the biography of one of the interpreters of the clown,the actor Arlindo Barreto, who over time became addicted to drugs, even playing Bozo live under cocaine. As a matter of copyright the name and image of Bozo could not be used in the film, which led the producers to change the look and the name of the clown to Bingo. The movie will be called “Bingo- O Rei das Manhãs”(“Bingo-The King of Mornings.”)
    Here’s the link for #1 trailer:
    #2 trailer:
    #3 trailer(+18):

    • WOW! I want to see that. Thanks for the heads-up, Dyel !!
      – William Carroll
      Denham Springs, Louisiana

  • You are aware that the march associated with the Bozo shows was released–at its proper speed–on the Capitol soundtrack LP of the film “Merry Andrew’.

    The music from that film only filled up one side of the album. For the flip side, Capitol dug out material by the Big Top Circus Band, directed by Billy May.

    It can be heard on YouTube.

    • Yes, that was an instrumental of “Bozo’s Song,” which Pinto Colvig recorded with lyrics for Capitol. The instrumental version was used on the live Bozo show as well. The Boston shows, some of which are available on DVD, usually open with Bozo singing the song over the instrumental as he enters the stage.
      The Bozo show I watched was on Channel 23 in Miami and he sang a different song with lyrics like “The funniest man in the whole human race/Is gonna put a smile on your face/Just keep laughin’, get rid of that frown/Bozo is back, the one and only Bozo the Clown.”
      Because there were so many Bozo shows tailored for each community, it was able to connect with us in all kinds of ways.

    • “Because there were so many Bozo shows tailored for each community, it was able to connect with us in all kinds of ways.”

      While true, I hate to admit I barely knew of Bozo in my 80’s youth, this was more due in part to there not being a local Bozo show for me to watch locally (I think Detroit’s version with Art Cervi was close), nor was there “Chicago’s Very Own” WGN on my cable dial, so I missed out on Bob Bell’s final years and the few decades with Joey D’Auria that followed. Aside from that, I probably did see the Bozo merch on store shelves and even remember the “Grand Prize Game” machine at my local arcade. I was a little impressed at one point to learn Harmon was born here in Toledo, though I’m sure his name wouldn’t conjure up too many memories of the World’s Famous Clown these days, unlike the majority who know Tom Cruise’s third wife went to a Catholic girls high school here.

  • Where I grew up a local station had a locally-produced Bozo show for more than twenty years. Our Bozo show was pretty unambitious compared to, say, Chicago’s Bozo show. Our Bozo was pretty much content to let cartoons carry the bulk of the show. Mostly old theatricals. Warner Bros., MGM, Popeye, the Harveytoons. Those were the longtime staples. A few made-for-TV toons rotated in and out over the years. Gumby, Ruff and Reddy, Beany and Cecil, Mr. Magoo. Oh, and always one of those lousy Bozo cartoons. On the show, they would play games with kids drawn from the gallery or have a guest from the natural history museum now and then, but mostly it was the cartoons. The show dominated weekday afternoons for years, but finally got dumped to Sunday mornings when the station changed the focus of its afternoon programming away from kids. Main thing I remember about the Sunday morning edition was that they got rid of all the cartoons they’d been running for years and began showing Terrytoons exclusively. (Well, except for the Bozo cartoons.) Quite a blow, that was, losing Bugs Bunny and Popeye to Dinky Duck and the Terry Bears.

    • Some TV stations aren’t very bright, but I guess when afternoons switched from Bugs Bunny, Transformers and Dragon Ball Z to Jerry Springer, Dr. Phil and the news, it was all over.

  • Did Larry Harmon get kicked out of a Clown Hall of Fame for lying about being Bozo’s creator or did I imagine that? Harmon’s Wikipedia page makes no mention of it, though that doesn’t mean anything.

    • Did they kick him with a giant shoe?

    • Don’t know but Pinto Colvig who brought Bozo to life is in the International Clown Hall of Fame inducted in 2004

    • Larry Harmon was never inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center’s Hall of Fame. He had been been honored with a “Lifetime of Laughter” plaque in 1990. That award was taken down in 2004, the ICHOF believing that Harmon had lied about being responsible for Bozo’s creation. (As Greg states above, Bozo was created by Alan Livingston at Capitol Records in 1946.) That same year, Pinto Colvig was inducted into the Hall of Fame for being the first performer to portray Bozo on records, radio and television.

      Harmon’s award was reinstated in 2010.

      Harmon, particularly in later years, did have a habit of claiming responsibility for Bozo, never mentioning Livingston or Colvig. He once gave an interview to the Chicago Times in which he tells a number of fanciful stories about how he came up with Bozo’s name, how he designed the character’s look, created his hair and costume, etc., none of which is true. He simply bought rights to the character from Capitol when they got out of the children’s record business. Certainly, though, Harmon was responsible for popularizing Bozo and making him, at least at one time, the best known clown in America.

    • As much as Harmon’s integrity was tranished because of that stunt, one can’t help to admire the fact he kept the Bozo name alive at all past the 1950’s. That would’ve certainly gone the way of the dodo quickly.

  • Having grown up with the Pinto Colvig Bozo Capitol children’s albums, I can only say that when Larry Harmon bought the character from Capitol, he changed Bozo from a soft-spoken, friendly voiced clown to an irritating, loud, brash personality that never ceased to dun the viewers with his constant laugh! My favorite Bozo album is “Bozo and His Rocket Ship”, as Bozo flies around the world to visit stereotypical citizens, such as a Ubangi warrior (“Me put plate inside lips now!”) and a comedy Russian character, just ahead of the Cold War. Pinto’s Bozo was a good friend in my imagination, I listened to those records many times and could easily imagine Bozo talking right to me and telling stories. I wouldn’t have let Larry Harmon’s Bozo into the house, he was abrasive and a nuisance. And yet, that’s the Bozo that’s remembered today, simply because Harmon was more aggressive at promotion than Alan Livingston. Sic Semper Tyclownius.

    • Ironically, Mark, I have to wonder if both Bozos might ultimately come out even, or perhaps Colvig’s might even come out ahead, only because the TV Bozo was not as well preserved by media that endures. Except for the Boston shows, which are limited, and a few YouTube videos, the Harmon TV Bozos and cartoons are not seen much today. The Harmon records on Golden and Little World (reissued on Peter Pan) were not as widely released as the Capitol ones–or at least were equivalent in their quantities. Capitol’s Bozo existed when children’s records were extremely popular and TV had not yet overwhelmed the attention of young consumers. Today, the Capitol records, on 78, 45 and 33 rpm, are everywhere on eBay as well as YouTube. Even though they are not on CD (except perhaps overseas), if you’re into Bozo, they’re far from obscure. If you google Bozo you get the Colvig and the Harmon versions. So ultimately one Bozo supports the other–and isn’t that really what the spirit if Bozo is really all about on an individual level, if I may be so naive?

    • I suppose at this point, it doesn’t really matter which side you’re on, it’s the same coin!

  • This Lenny Edelstein or whoever credited with the Mr.Limpet songs escapes me… I’ve seen the movie, even have the VHS of it, and the credits are “Harold Adamson and Sammy Fain”. Anyhow great posting…

    • “Oops ba-zoops!” as Bozo would say! Harold Adamson did indeed write the “Limpet” lyrics. Lenny or Leonard Adelson, who did the “Dream Along with Bozo” lyrics, was also the cousin of Merv Adelson, who was married to Barbara Walters.

  • Harmon was also in the Laurel and Hardy business. As I understand it, he made a deal with Stan’s and Babe’s widows, then took on Hal Roach Studios which had been merchandising Laurel and Hardy without cutting in the boys (much as Universal had been merchandising Karloff, Lugosi and Chaney Jr.).

    Harmon produced a syndicated cartoon package with Hanna Barbara (Harmon himself voiced Laurel), and there was a wave of merchandise using the character designs from the cartoons. I remember the Laurel and Hardy cartoons being part of the local Bozo show, and I’ve seen videos of a “Laurel and Hardy Show” with a local-station-style title sequence.

    When Hanna Barbara used Laurel and Hardy later in the “New Scooby Doo Movies”, it was the same voices but a new character design to more or less blend with the Scooby gang.

    A quick google reveals that Gaumont announced a new Laurel and Hardy animated series in 2015, purchasing rights from Larry Harmon Pictures (the quotes in the news release don’t mention that L&H existed before the cartoons). In 2016 Variety announced a live action movie starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, mentioning in passing that rights were purchased from Larry Harmon Pictures. The movie is based on Stan’s and Babe’s real-life tour of England in the 50s, where they were a huge hit despite being finished in movies.

    There might be a post about live-action comedy stars in authorized animation, back before spinoffs and such were automatic. HB did syndicated Abbott and Costello shorts (with Abbott voicing himself). The Three Stooges did live-action wraps for a low-budget cartoon series, and years later HB did “The Robotic Stooges” with sound-alikes. HB did a “Little Rascals” show I never caught (probably licensed by Roach); there was also a one-off Christmas special by somebody else that featured a few original Rascals as adult voices. I think DePatie-Freleng’s “Baggy Pants” was an “official” Chaplin product (the Chaplin estate was very actively licensing for a while, most famously with IBM’s PC ads). Filmation did a Jerry Lewis show, but I’m not sure Lewis voiced himself (his son’s band did the theme song). Bob Clampett worked on an animated Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy pilot. I could go on …

    • One reboot that saw the light of day was “The New Adventures of Laurel and Hardy in For Love or Mummy,” with Bronson Pinchot as Stan Laurel (actually his nephew).

    • Howard Morris did the voice of Jerry Lewis in those cartoons. Morris was also Jughead in the many Filmation series of Archie cartoons.

    • David L. Lander did the voice of Jerry Lewis in those Filmation cartoons, not Howard Morris.

    • David L. Lander (then part of the Credibility Gap comedy troupe, later Squiggy on “Laverne & Shirley” with fellow Credibility Gap member Michael McKean as Lenny) did the voice of Jerry in “Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down?”

  • Ah, you couldn’t have Capitol kids’ records without Billy May. An interesting study himself, if you consider his work on both kiddie and adult projects at Capitol. He wrote the iconic arrangement of “Come Fly With Me” for Sinatra (in a rather odd key for big band music, the key of B Major). He music directed Stan Freberg’s radio show, too. Later did tons of TV scores.

  • Wow, I have enjoyed reading this thread.
    As a historian previously known as “The Bozologist” I spent many a year researching the origin and history of Bozo the clown,… in 2010 I self published a large definitive history on Bozo entitled “The Bozo Chronicles” (The origin and history of “The Capitol Clown” 1946-1956).
    There is always something fun to read on Bozo.
    And though I portrayed the character from 2002-2006 for the LHPC,… I picked Mr. Harmon’s mindset for info every time we spoke.
    His idea and ideas were quite interesting to say the least.
    Well, thank you,
    Tom Holbrook

  • I’m looking for a show with three puppets like these but who were clowns with huge and big faces who of you remember?

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