Tuesday, July 08, 2008
LARRY HARMON: The Lifetime of Laughter Award
Terri Hall from the International Clown Hall of Fame called yesterday to tell me that she has been "up to her eyeballs" in nasty phone calls and emails concerning the ICHOF's rescinding of Larry Harmon's "Lifetime of Laughter" Award.
The award was rescinded by the ICHOF's previous administration when they discovered that Larry hadn't created Bozo the Clown.
Terri had informed Greg DeSanto and I last month that Larry's award wasn't given for creating Bozo, it was given for perpetuating the Bozo character. As such, she had decided that he deserved to be reinstated and that an award ceremony was planned for September.
Unfortunately, Larry passed away this past weekend before any of this could be made public, the story about the ICHOF rescinding his award was mentioned in AP obituary that ran across the country and she has been buried under a pile of hate mail ever since.
She has asked the AP to print a retraction. The text of her email is found below...
Larry Harmon passed and this is a retraction letter I sent to Associated press, they said they would print it...
In September, 2007, I became the Director of the International Clown Hall of Fame. One of my main objectives was to create a new and exciting website that people could learn more about the Art of Clowning.
While reviewing all the biographies of the inductees, I ran across the list of Lifetime of Laughter Achievement award recipients. I felt it would be good to show people on the website that we recognize clowns who have dedicated their lives to preservation and promotional of the art of Clowning AND people who may not have a clowning background but have created a happier world providing humor and laughter.
At our website, www.theclownmuseum.org, you will see that Larry Harmon is clearly listed as the 1990 Lifetime of Laughter recipient.
In the inductee and lifetime of laughter receipient files as well as on the Internet, there is an article written by I assume a journalist or reporter indicating that the ICHOF inducted the wrong Bozo the clown based that the information provided by Larry Harmon was inaccurate. I also found a letter rescinding his award.
In reviewing all facts, Larry Harmon was not inducted into the ICHOF as the "original Bozo" or any other Bozo nor did he give us any information indicating he created the original Bozo.
He was given the Lifetime of Laughter award because he provided "wonderful entertainment and happiness" to all those who loved Bozo the Clown.
He also provided laughter for those who loved the Laurel and Hardy series. Larry Harmon bought the rights to the Bozo character and the Laurel and Hardy comedy team. He kept them on TV and presented his version of a Bozo that I as a child remember quite well.
I had the priviledge twice as a child to see Bozo the Clown in Chicago. I loved the Bozo he created and it definitely left a great smile in my heart and memory.
Larry Harmon is on our website listed as the 1990 Lifetime of Laughter Achievement and this award was earned by him. The original news article was incorrect. Only clowns are inducted into the ICHOF. Our information should have been updated to say he created a new version of Bozo the Clown. Based on my research presented to our complete board, Larry Harmon deserved his award and his plaque will definitely be hung in our Hall of Honor.
We had already corrected our website and were working with friends of Larry's to inform him of his reinstatement. We were asked by his friends to keep silent and not leak it to the press until after the arrangements were made to show him that his award was truly earned. Unfortunately, we will not be able to complete that surprise but he earned the award that he was given.
My condolences to his family and friends. I am sorry for the confusion and hope that Larry knew in his heart that his contribution to laughter, humor and fun were appreciated around the world by children of all ages.
And now, courtesy of Tommy Holbrook, the complete lyrics of BOZO'S SONG, written by Alan W. Livingston and Billy May and performed by Pinto Colvig and the Billy May Orchestra.