Bozo the Clown Restaurant in the Works and More News

In today's Media Mix, the best Twitter reactions to Pete Wells' scathing Guy Fieri review, plus Chicago gets its Michelin stars

The Daily Meal brings you the biggest news from the food world.

Bozo the Clown Restaurant: Apparently the guys behind Dave & Buster's have decided to launch a restaurant concept based on Bozo, The World’s Most Famous Clown. Scary, or fun? [Restaurant News]

Twitter Reacts to Pete Wells' Guy Fieri Review: Pete Wells' super snarky review of Guy Fieri's first New York restaurant (composed entirely of questions) got some good and bad feedback on Twitter, some with the hashtags "#peoplesuck. #karma." [Grub Street]

Hugh Acheson on Being a Judge: The charming Southern chef claims judging is actually pretty easy. "I just get sat down, fed, and asked to be a jackass. And I’m good at that." [The Hollywood Reporter]

Chicago Michelin Stars: Alinea kept its three stars, L20 gained a second star, Sixteen earned its first star, and Mexique surprised everyone with one star. [Chicago Sun Times]

Boston's ɻozo' Frank Avruch Dead At 89

BOSTON (AP) - Longtime Boston television personality and entertainer Frank Avruch, who was the star of the popular children's TV program "Bozo the Clown," has died. He was 89.

Avruch died Tuesday at his Boston home from heart disease, his family said in a statement to WCVB-TV.

Avruch played Bozo the Clown from 1959 to 1970, a clown character particularly popular in the U.S. in the 1960s because of widespread franchising in television. Avruch became the first nationally-syndicated Bozo the Clown.

"He had a heart of gold," manager Stuart Hersh told The Associated Press on Wednesday, "He brought the Bozo the Clown character to life better than anyone else's portrayal of Bozo the Clown."

Avruch also was a contributor to WCVB-TV for more than 40 years as a host of "Man About Town" and "The Great Entertainment."

He was an active philanthropist and a board member of UNICEF'S New England chapter. He toured the world performing as Bozo the clown for UNICEF.

"He touched so many people with his portrayal," Hersh said.

Avruch is survived by his wife Betty, two sons Matthew and Steven and several grandchildren. Funeral services for Avruch were scheduled for Friday.

"While it's hard to say goodbye, we celebrate the legacy of joy and laughter he brought to millions of children around the world as Bozo the Clown on TV and as a UNICEF Ambassador and later as host of Channel 5's Great Entertainment and Boston's Man About Town," Avruch's family said in a statement to the station. "Our dad loved the children of all ages who remembered being on his show and was always grateful for their kind words. We will miss him greatly."

What Willard Scott Owes to Bozo the Clown

I was born in Alexandria in 1934 at the height of the Depression. My father may not have dressed up like Carmen Miranda, but he always got a laugh. My mother taught me to be kind to everyone. One day when I was eight, Mom took me to the movies in DC. Afterward, she wanted to shop, so I wandered over to my favorite radio station, WTOP. I introduced myself to the receptionist and told her I was a fan. She took me to the control room and said, “You can sit here if you stay very quiet. That man will be broadcasting live.” The man was Eric Sevareid, then a correspondent for CBS. He’d just gotten back from Burma, where he’d been lost in the jungle for months. I sat there enthralled as Sevareid recounted his ordeal.

The next day, I set to work building a station in our basement. My parents bought me an oscillator, which enabled me to broadcast 150 feet. My friends and I read the news, played tunes on a phonograph, and chattered away. A few months after we started, three men from the FCC showed up. They told us our signal was reaching National Airport—Pan Am’s radios were picking up kids talking and playing records. So ended my basement station.

At 16, I was hired as a page at WRC, the NBC radio station. One day, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt came in to do a talk show. It was my job to take her coat. I didn’t want to hang it with the others, so I took it to the vice president’s office. Later, I went out to get muffins for the crew, and when I came back, Mrs. Roosevelt had left. The station manager grabbed me: “What did you do with Eleanor Roosevelt’s coat? She had to leave without it!” Mrs. Roosevelt had gone to the Washington Press Club, so I hustled over there. She accepted the coat and my red face with a bemused “Thank you, young man.”

Working weekends and vacations, I juggled my page job with finishing high school. I auditioned to be an announcer but was never hired. Then one of the announcers left for vacation and my boss said, “What the hell, let Scott fill in—it’s only two weeks.” When he returned, I became a regular substitute.

After college, WRC hired me for a kids’ TV show, Barn Party. The host, Betsy Stelk, held forth in a barn wearing an evening dress and wielding a wand. I was Farmer Willard, and most of my castmates were puppets. One puppeteer was a fellow named Jim Henson, and his creations were precursors of the Muppets.

My bosses had heard a college show I did with a friend, Ed Walker (who passed away last year), and they gave us a radio program, The Joy Boys, which ran from 1955 to 1974. We did a lot of satire, including a takeoff on The Huntley-Brinkley Report called The Washer-Dryer Report. About a year into The Joy Boys, I enlisted in the Navy, but soon I was back on TV. WRC bought local rights to Bozo the Clown, and I was cast in the role. Bozo went to the White House and met JFK and Caroline. I played him from 1959 to 1962, doing a daily one-hour show. Many appearances were at McDonald’s, and when I left the show, I helped the company develop Ronald McDonald. I was almost 30 and getting a little old to be a clown.

In 1970, I became WRC’s weatherman, a job I loved because it left room to be fun and spontaneous. In 1980, the NBC bureau chief said, “How’d you like to do the Today show weather?” The first couple months there were a little rough, but then I began to get more mail than anyone. Of course, a lot was from viewers asking the network to take me off the air.

Saluting people on their 100th birthday started when I got a card that read, “My uncle is turning 100. Could you mention him on TV?” I did it and about a week later got two cards, then four, then six. I’ve met some memorable centenarians. Reba Kelly in Minneapolis looked like a classic 100-year-old—wire glasses, lace collar, bun—except she was drinking Jack Daniel’s and smoking. I thought, “That’s my kind of woman. I want to live to a hundred and be just like Reba.”

Adapted from “What Made Me Who I Am” by Bernie Swain, published by Post Hill Press/Simon & Schuster. Copyright © 2016 by Bernie Swain. All rights reserved.

This article appears in our November 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

WCVB-TV personality Frank Avruch, at 89

Frank Avruch with the wig and big shoes he wore as Bozo when he performed in Bozo’s Big Top.

(7/4/08--Newton, MA)Frank Avruch with a photo of himself as Bozo and the cast of Bozo's Big Top which was inspired by Bozo creator Mark Harmon who died yesterday. Photo taken on July 4, 2008. Photo by Renee DeKona

Frank Avruch as Bozo the Clown.


(7/4/08--Newton, MA)Frank Avruch with Mark Harmon dressed as Bozo the Clown in a 1970s photo. Copy shot taken on July 4, 2008. Photo by Renee DeKona

Frank Avruch, a legendary Boston broadcaster and performer for more than 40 years on WCVB-TV (Ch. 5) died Tuesday night at his home in Boston. He was 89.

Mr. Avruch was a graduate of Boston University.

He began his career on the radio before transitioning to television, wearing many hats.

Mr. Avruch was a contributor on &ldquoGood Day&rdquo and host of &ldquoThe Great Entertainment&rdquo and WCVB&rsquos &ldquoMan About Town.&rdquo

He is best known for playing Bozo the Clown from 1959 until 1970, which he said was one of the highlights of his career.

He was inducted into the National Television Academy&rsquos Gold Circle.

&ldquoFrank Avruch was one of the most influential and beloved personalities on Boston television and a cherished member of the Channel 5 family,&rdquo said Bill Fine, WCVB&rsquos president and general manager. &ldquoFrank&rsquos talent was limitless, whether as host of &lsquoThe Great Entertainment,&rsquo &lsquoBoston&rsquos Man About Town,&rsquo or &lsquoBozo the Clown,&rsquo he could do it all. His kindness and enthusiasm were contagious, his style elegant, with an unmistakable voice to match. He loved this television station and city, dedicating a lifetime to entertaining us all. We send our love and deepest sympathy to his beloved wife, Betty, and the Avruch family. He truly was the Man Around Town and we will always be grateful to Frank for his friendship and many contributions to our industry and community.&rdquo

Avruch&rsquos son, Steven Avruch, told WCVB: &ldquoMy brother and I lost our dad last night after a long battle with heart disease. He was a devoted husband to our surviving mom, Betty, and a loving father, grandfather uncle and friend to many. While it&rsquos hard to say goodbye, we celebrate the legacy of joy and laughter he brought to millions of children around the world as Bozo the Clown on TV and as a UNICEF ambassador and later as host of Channel 5&rsquos &lsquoGreat Entertainment&rsquo and &lsquoBoston&rsquos Man About Town.&rsquo Our dad loved the children of all ages who remembered being on his show and was always grateful for their kind words. We will miss him greatly.&rdquo

A native of the Boston suburb of Winthrop, Avruch attended the University of Missouri&rsquos School of Journalism and completed his bachelor&rsquos degree in communication at Boston University in 1949. In addition to his wife, Frank is survived by two sons, Matthew and Steven a son-in-law, Ed MacLean and two grandchildren, Robert and Max.

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The crowd reaction, he recalled, "was deafening."

"They kept yelling, 'Bozo, Bozo, love you, love you.' I shed more crocodile tears for five miles in four hours than I realized I had," he said. "I still get goose bumps."

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Harmon became interested in theater while studying at the University of Southern California.

"Bozo is a star, an entertainer, bigger than life," Harmon once said. "People see him as Mr. Bozo, somebody you can relate to, touch and laugh with."

Besides his wife, Harmon is survived by his son, Jeff Harmon, and daughters Lori Harmon, Marci Breth-Carabet and Leslie Breth.

Longtime Bozo the Clown dies at 83

LOS ANGELES — Larry Harmon wasn't the original Bozo the Clown, but he was the real one.

Harmon, who portrayed the wing-haired clown for more than half a century, died Thursday of congestive heart failure, said his publicist, Jerry Digney. He was 83.

As an entrepreneur, Harmon licensed the character to others, particularly dozens of television stations around the country. The stations in turn hired actors to be their local Bozos.

"Bozo is a combination of the wonderful wisdom of the adult and the childlike ways in all of us," Harmon told The Associated Press in a 1996 interview.

Pinto Colvig, who provided the voice for Walt Disney's Goofy, was the first Bozo the Clown, a character created by writer-producer Alan W. Livingston for a series of children's records in 1946. Livingston said he came up with the name Bozo after polling several people at Capitol Records.

Harmon would later meet his alter ego while answering a casting call to make personal appearances as a clown to promote the records.

He got that job and eventually bought the rights to Bozo. Along the way, he embellished Bozo's distinctive look: the orange-tufted hair, the bulbous nose, the outlandish red, white and blue costume.

"You might say, in a way, I was cloning BTC (Bozo the Clown) before anybody else out there got around to cloning DNA," Harmon said in the 1996 interview. "I felt if I could plant my size 83AAA shoes on this planet, (people) would never be able to forget those footprints."

Susan Harmon, his wife of 29 years, indicated Harmon was the perfect fit for Bozo.

"He was the most optimistic man I ever met. He always saw a bright side he always had something good to say about everybody. He was the love of my life," she said Thursday.

The business - combining animation, licensing of the character and personal appearances - made millions, as Harmon trained more than 200 Bozos over the years to represent him in local markets.

"I'm looking for that sparkle in the eyes, that emotion, feeling, directness, warmth. That is so important," he said of his criteria for becoming a Bozo.

The Chicago version of Bozo ran on WGN-TV in Chicago for 40 years and was seen in many other cities after cable television transformed WGN into a superstation.

Bozo - portrayed in Chicago for many years by Bob Bell - was so popular that the waiting list for tickets to a TV show eventually stretched to a decade, prompting the station to stop taking reservations for 10 years. On the day in 1990 when WGN started taking reservations again, it took just five hours to book the show for five more years. The phone company reported more than 27 million phone call attempts had been made.

By the time the show bowed out in Chicago, in 2001, it was the last locally produced version. Harmon said at the time that he hoped to develop a new cable or network show, as well as a Bozo feature film.

He became caught up in a minor controversy in 2004 when the International Clown Hall of Fame in Milwaukee took down a plaque honoring him as Bozo and formally endorsed Colvig as the first. Harmon denied ever misrepresenting Bozo's history.

He said he was claiming credit only for what he added to the character - "What I sound like, what I look like, what I walk like" - and what he did to popularize Bozo.

"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 last 52 years," he told the AP at the time.

Harmon protected Bozo's reputation with a vengeance, while embracing those who poked good-natured fun at the clown.

As Bozo's influence spread through popular culture, his very name became a synonym for clownish behavior.

"It takes a lot of effort and energy to keep a character that old fresh so kids today still know about him and want to buy the products," Karen Raugust, executive editor of The Licensing Letter, a New York-based trade publication, said in 1996.

A normal character runs its course in three to five years, Raugust said. "Harmon's is a classic character. It's been around 50 years."

On New Year's Day 1996, Harmon dressed up as Bozo for the first time in 10 years, appearing in the Rose Parade in Pasadena.

The crowd reaction, he recalled, "was deafening."

"They kept yelling, 'Bozo, Bozo, love you, love you.' I shed more crocodile tears for five miles in four hours than I realized I had," he said. "I still get goose bumps."

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Harmon became interested in theater while studying at the University of Southern California.

"Bozo is a star, an entertainer, bigger than life," Harmon once said. "People see him as Mr. Bozo, somebody you can relate to, touch and laugh with."

For more information see Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

More than a clown: Remembering suave Frank Avruch – and slapstick Bozo

‘ALWAYS LAUGH, NEVER FROWN’: Frank Avruch, as Bozo, above, performed as the iconic clown from 1959 to 1970.

03/22/2018 Screengrab file photo of Frank Avruch, longtime WCVB tv personality, who passed away this week. Photo courtesy WCVB-Channel 5

(7/4/08--Newton, MA) Frank Avruch with a photo of himself as Bozo and the cast of Bozo's Big Top which was inspired by Bozo creator Mark Harmon who died yesterday. Photo taken on July 4, 2008. Photo by Renee DeKona

Frank Avruch as Bozo the Clown.«oston Herald File photo

Longtime Boston "BOZO" Frank Avruch with his mentor Larry Harmon.While there have been 203 Harmon trained BOZOs on local TV productions around the world the Avruch BOZO hosted Boston production was the only one in national TV syndication for markets where a local BOZO TV production wasn't feasible. Boston Herald file photo

TWO OF A KIND: Rex Trailer, left, and Frank Avruch, both iconic children’s TV hosts, are all smiles at the 15th anniversary party for WCVB in Needham.

BELOVED: Frank Avruch, as Bozo, with a youngster in 1966. Avruch played Bozo from 1959 to 1970.

Accolades continue to roll in for Boston&rsquos own beloved Bozo &mdash longtime WCVB personality Frank Avruch, who died Tuesday from heart failure at 89.

Avruch worked for WCVB for more than 40 years as a contributor to its &ldquoGood Day&rdquo program and host of &ldquoMan About Town&rdquo and &ldquoThe Great Entertainment,&rdquo among other shows, but he was best known as Bozo the Clown to millions of Baby Boomers across the country.

Avruch played the legendary clown with the gravity-defying orange hair from 1959 to 1970. He was the first Bozo to star in national syndication.

Millions of adults can still recite the words to Bozo&rsquos trademark song, which opened with &ldquoBozo, Bozo, always laugh, never frown.&rdquo

Actor and director Jon Favreau (&ldquoIron Man&rdquo) paid tribute to Avruch on Twitter yesterday with a clip of his own &ldquoSeinfeld&rdquo guest spot in 1994 &mdash as a clown named Eric who doesn&rsquot know who Bozo is, much to George&rsquos (Jason Alexander) righteous irritation.

Bobbi (@RaidersNana) remembered Avruch as &ldquopart of my young life, use to watch all the time. Clowns weren&rsquot made into scary creatures at that time.&rdquo

Others recalled his impressive knowledge of classic films, which he shared as the tuxedo-clad host of &ldquoThe Great Entertainment.&rdquo

On Facebook, one visitor to WCVB&rsquos station page noted, &ldquoMr. Avruch introduced me to so many classic films. This time was before the internet and he always had the &lsquoback story&rsquo that made the film far more interesting. The tux was a great added touch. He was a wonderful story teller.&rdquo

The Winthrop native and Boston University graduate was a staple on WCVB&rsquos charity telethons over the years and served as a UNICEF ambassador. For his many contributions to broadcasting, he was inducted into the National Television Academy&rsquos Gold Circle.

Years ago, reflecting on his career with WCVB, Avruch said, &ldquoA lot of people, when they talk to me, they&rsquore sort of hesitant to bring up how could this suave, somewhat sophisticated guy be this guy with big orange hair and the big shoes. I said, you know, that was one of the highlights of my career.&rdquo

Bozo's Insults Landed Him In Cold Water

There's another funny and ironic side to the dispute between Bozo the Clown and Bozo the Barbecue ("In Court, a Bitter Duel for the Right to Be a Bozo," Law page, Aug. 2).

A "Bozo" clown act was for many years a popular carnival attraction. In the peculiarly conservative manner of many carnival attractions, it was always called "Dump Bozo," regardless of who did it or where it was, except that it was called "Knock Mabel Out of Bed" in an earlier incarnation at Coney Island and elsewhere.

Dump Bozo is the "knock-the-loudmouth-off-his-perch" act where the clown, Bozo, sits high up in a wire cage (to protect him) and in a strident, raspy voice insults passers-by ("Hey, fatso, have you thought of surgery for that belly?") until he gets a mark annoyed enough to want revenge, which the mark gets by throwing baseballs (for a price) at a trigger target. If the mark hits the target, the taunting Bozo is dumped, with a tremendous splash, into four feet of cold water, shutting him up for a few brief moments. The crowd loves it, whatever the outcome.

Arthur Lewis, in his book "Carnival" (1970), quotes a New York Times story with a Succasunna, N.J., Aug. 26 (1969) dateline: "A brawl involving about 150 local residents and traveling carnival workers broke out last night after Bozo the Clown and an allegedly drunken man had traded insults at the Morris County Fair."

Mr. Lewis tells us that the carny impresario Bernard J. (Biggie) Moran had since 1938 developed the Bozo act into a fine art of humor and insult. Moran was not a Bozo himself, but he owned eight Bozo joints at the time of his interview. He was not the only Bozo operator and did not claim to be the originator either.

The word Bozo (for person, guy, fella) is American slang that got transported to Australia in the 1930's, and may still be there too, for all we know. PHILIP S. GOODMAN New York, Aug. 8, 1991

Bozo the Clown bowing out

CHICAGO -- Bozo the Clown, who goofed off on a Chicago TV stage for 40 years, will bow out and make way for a modern version of the carrot-topped character, the show's creators said Friday.

Chicago's version, featuring Bozo and various sidekicks such as Cooky and Oliver O. Oliver, debuted on WGN-TV in 1960 and later aired nationally via WGN-TV's cable channel.

The show has now stopped production and will air its last special on Aug. 26. The Tribune Co.-owned WGN-TV said changing viewing habits -- particularly children not going home for lunch to watch the show that once aired every weekday -- and competitors for young viewers from cable channels such as Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel led it to cancel the vintage Bozo.

An updated version, aimed at the national entertainment market and featuring the latest video tricks, will likely begin production soon, said a spokesman for Larry Harmon Pictures Corp., which owns the rights to Bozo.

The first televised Bozo aired in Los Angeles in 1949, but was canceled a year later, according to WGN.

WGN said its Bozo was the longest-running children's show in the country and the last of the locally produced Bozo shows, although the Harmon Pictures spokesman said there were a few other cities with shows still in production.

More than 200 actors were trained to play Bozo, although only two donned the makeup in Chicago, including the late Bob Bell, who played the clown for 23 years. Joey D'Auria has played Bozo since 1984.

Bye, Bozo--Don’t Forget to Write If You Get Work

What is our country coming to? The U.S. economy is tanking, California has an electric power crisis and Disney is chopping its work force, which means you and I face longer lines for Splash Mountain and maybe they’ll even cut back the dwarfs from seven to five.

As if all that weren’t enough, Bozo the Clown is being forced into retirement.

That’s right, after four decades on television, Bozo will go off the air Aug. 26 because of low ratings brought on by competition from Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel and other programming.

WGN-TV’s “The Bozo Super Sunday Show,” broadcast in Chicago, is the last locally produced program to feature Bozo the Clown.

At one time Bozo had shows on more than 180 local stations across the country and was one of the most popular characters in television history.

Will this mean my pal Bozo will be hanging up his fright wig and pratfalling off into the sunset? Will he retire to some senior clown community, exchanging his familiar jumpsuit and slap-shoes for polyester plaid slacks, white shoes and a white belt? Will he lay down his trusty seltzer bottle and learn to play bridge? Will he be happy trading goofing around for golfing a round?

I hope he has adequate retirement health insurance. Does he have supplemental Clowncare to cover injuries like slipping on banana peels? It’s hard to stop old habits. And how will he pay for things like orthopedic slap-shoes or prescription grease paint?

But suppose Bozo isn’t ready to retire? Or can’t afford to? What does he do now? Let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of opportunities out there for old clowns who still need work. Most of the circuses are gone.

And it’s not like he could go part-time at McDonald’s--Ronald is still going strong.

And forget about working kids’ birthday parties.

Young clowns get what’s left of those gigs. They know all the newest tricks they’re more in touch with the youth market and they’ll work for peanuts.

I suppose Bozo might consider a career change--going into some related field like politics or law. Naw, come to think of it, Bozo’s got too much class.

Watch the video: Bozo The Clown Funko Pop 1st Look

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