Larry Harmon, TV Icon’s Alter Ego, Honored, Again, At Wisconsin Museum
(Baraboo, WI., Sept. 27, 2010)---
Five years ago, under a different regime, the late Larry Harmon, creator of TV’s Bozo, was dropped as an honoree at the world’s only museum dedicated to buffoonery, the International Clown Hall of Fame (ICHOF), located outside of Milwaukee, Wisc.
At the time, museum management claimed that while Harmon, who passed away in 2008, popularized Bozo on TV, he didn’t invent the character and therefore didn’t warrant a special homage in the collection.
At the time of the incident, Harmon said: “Isn’t it a shame the credit that was given to me for the work I have done they arbitrarily take it down, like I didn’t do anything for the past 52 years.”
Today, a new team of advisors at the clown hall has announced that Harmon’s induction has, for good reason, been reinstated and he is now a full fledged member of its esteemed, bulbous-nosed group which includes the likes of clown stars such as Emmett Kelly and long time Ringling Circus clown ambassador Lou Jacobs.
“Larry Harmon did so much for clowning it’s hard to fully imagine his impact,” says ICHOF president Greg DeSanto. “Multiple generations and millions of people were entertained by the Bozo character he so masterfully fashioned for television.”
Adds Harmon’s widow, Susan Harmon, “Larry would be thrilled, he so loved this character and gave his life to creating a magical persona that touched so many.”This year is the 50th anniversary of the nationally acclaimed Bozo TV show, one of TV’s most enduring shows, which last aired in 2001, after a 40 year run. Two years after his death, Harmon’s memoir, “The Man Behind The Nose,” co-authored by Thomas Scott McKenzie, has landed in bookstores via It Books’ Igniter imprint (a div. of HarperCollins) (Igniter, 256 pages, $25.99).
Bozo was a product of Hollywood. Born as a children’s record clown on the fledgling Capitol Records in Hollywood, the Bozo character gravitated to TV, first with a live show on Los Angeles station KTLA. Quickly, live Bozo TV shows cropped up in Chicago, New York, Boston and 200 other markets internationally.
Many famous folks owe Harmon their major league starts.
“Muppets” creator Jim Henson and his puppets made their TV bow on Harmon’s Bozo Show in Washington DC. Carroll Spinney, who’s been delighting kids as “Big Bird,” also got his start with Harmon and Willard Scott, 76, the eternal weatherman on NBC’s “TODAY,” was a Harmon find, too, bowing on TV as Bozo in Washington, DC.Another 205 actors around the world followed Harmon in the floppy red clown shoes and created over 10,000 hours of Bozo shows.
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To clarify: Greg DeSanto is the Director of the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center and is President of the ICHOF's Board of Directors. The ICHOF is now located in Baraboo, WI. Larry Harmon's "Lifetime of Laughter" award has been re-instated. Mr. Harmon is not an inductee of the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center.