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Bozo by Aladdin, 1964

Bozo by Aladdin, 1964

Bozo the Clown Lunch Box, Aladdin, 1963, $375
Bozo the Clown Bottle, Aladdin, 1963, $120

Bozo the Clown is a clown character very popular in the United States, peaking in the 1960s as a result of widespread franchising in early television.

Bozo was created as a character by Alan W. Livingston, who produced a children's storytelling record-album and illustrative read-along book set, the first of its kind, titled Bozo at the Circus for Capitol Records and released in October 1946. Pinto Colvig portrayed the character on this and subsequent Bozo read-along records. The albums were very popular and the character became a mascot for the record company and was later nicknamed "Bozo the Capitol Clown." Many non-Bozo Capitol children's records had a "Bozo Approved" label on the jacket.

In 1948, Capitol and Livingston began setting up royalty arrangements with manufacturers and television stations for use of the Bozo character. KTTV-TV in Los Angeles began broadcasting the first show, Bozo's Circus, in 1949 featuring Colvig as Bozo with his blue-and-red costume, oversized red hair and classic "whiteface" clown makeup on Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

In 1956, Larry Harmon, one of several actors hired by Livingston and Capitol Records to portray Bozo at promotional appearances, formed a business partnership and bought the licensing rights (excluding the record-readers) to the character when Livingston briefly left Capitol in 1956. Harmon had the vision and drive to take advantage of the growing television industry and make a better future for Bozo.

He renamed the character "Bozo, The World’s Most Famous Clown" and modified the voice, laugh and costume. He then worked with a wig stylist to get the wing-tipped bright orange style and look of the hair that had previously appeared in Capitol's Bozo comic books. He started his own animation studio and distributed (through Jayark Films Corporation) a series of cartoons (with Harmon as the voice of Bozo) to television stations, along with the rights for each to hire its own live Bozo host, beginning with KTLA-TV in Los Angeles on January 5, 1959 and starring Vance Colvig, Jr., son of the original "Bozo the Clown," Pinto Colvig.

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