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A Tale of Way More Than Two Bozos

This week, Frank Avruch, an 89-year-old entertainer best known for portraying Bozo the Clown, died. When I saw tributes to Bozo online, I felt sad–but also confused, like I’d been bonked on the head by a circus performer. I could’ve sworn that the guy who played Bozo the Clown had already passed away. After a morbid Google search, I confirmed that, yes, several other Bozos had already died. I’d grown up watching The Bozo Show, and my parents had too, and so it made sense that more than one person had portrayed the friendly, bucket-loving clown over the years that the children’s variety show aired. But what stood out was the sheer volume of Bozos, and the surprising geographic variety. I’d always assumed that the Bozo I saw growing up, watching on WGN in Chicago, was the same Bozo people saw all over the country, that it was a local program syndicated nationally. But something much weirder was going on. An astounding number of people played Bozo over the years, in city-specific versions of the same show, creating enough confusion to provoke a clowning scandal and intra-Bozo beefs… read more >

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