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The award was rescinded by the ICHOF's previous administration when they discovered that Larry hadn't created Bozo the Clown.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.

Terri Hall


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.


Anonymous said...

Pat & CHOF,
It has always been my thought that Bozo had two births,...
One with Capitol Records 1946-1956 & The Larry Harmon years 1956-to today.
Larry's award with the CHOF should have remained, as he did some amazing work with our pal. Truthfully, if it were not for Larry Bozo would have been on the shelf with Capitol. He met Bozo in the 1950's after being hirred to portray "The Capitol Clown" and he found a way to inject his happy side of life in to Bozo's world.

Although, Bozo had become very well known and loved with Capitol Records,...Harmon had the energy and new ideas that made Bozo who he is today.

I am VERY happy to know that his award is to be redisplayed and hope to attend this event in honor of Larry and his lifes work.

Tom Holbrook

Roger Smith said...

My friend and roomie Kim Baer told me upon Bozo's passing that as a girl her father, Parley Baer, took her to see the original Bozo, Colvig, whom Parley always called Calvin Colvig, rather than Pinto. Pat, can you clear up the actual name?

Roger Smith

Anonymous said...

The original Bozo "The Capitol Clown" was portrayed by Vance DeBar Colvig.
In an audio interview from 1948 Pinto noted the correct pronounciation for Colvig. But, it is a bit hard to discribe in words.

More info on Pinto's history, art and clowning is in my book on the Capitol Years of Bozo the clown 1946-1956.
Hope this info helps abit.
Tom Holbrook

Anonymous said...

The prior administration of the International Clown Hall of Fame should not be reprimanded for rescinding Larry Harmon's 1990 Lifetime of Laughter Achievement Award. I actually attended that event in Delavan, where Willard Scott was also being honored, and Larry didn't hesitate for a moment to credit himself as Bozo's creator and as the original Bozo. Unfortunately, I, like most people for years, took him for his word. In fact, the International Clown Hall of Fame's website credited him as Bozo's creator in there reference to his Lifetime of Laughter Achievement Award for years thereafter, until 1998 when they rescinded it and gave it to the actual creator, Alan Livingston. I don't recall the website stating that he was the original Bozo although Larry credited himself as TV's original Bozo for years. It wasn't until a year after Livingston was honored that ABCNews.com's Buck Wolf wrote about it in a series of articles, which eventually led to Pinto Colvig's rightful induction as the original Bozo on records and TV in 2004. Personally, I believe Larry deserved to be honored for what he actually did for Bozo. At the same time, I also believe that the International Clown Hall of Fame had every reason to take the action they did for being, as they stated at the time, "duped." If Larry had placed credit where credit was actually due for Bozo's creation and the original portrayer instead of trying to take all of the credit for Bozo, the award would have never been rescinded.