Battling Bozos

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"In some of those articles, I have been misquoted and blatantly misrepresented. I cannot be responsible for misquotes and incorrect information printed by the media and routinely recycled over and over again over a long period of time.

"I have always been extremely proud to say that Allen [sic] Livingston created Bozo The Capitol Clown when he was with Capitol Records in the middle 1940s."

But to believe Harmon, we must also believe The Associated Press, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and at least six other major newspapers misquoted or misunderstood him, often times repeatedly.

And Harmon has never explained apparent mistakes on his own products. On a videocassette of Bozo cartoons, Harmon is pictured in greasepaint with the caption "The Original Bozo."

When Bozo reached the half-century mark in 1996, Harmon's production company issued a brochure titled "50 Years of Clowning Around With Bozo." It credits only Harmon for the clown's origin.

"Bozo. You can't even say it without smiling," the brochure begins. "Bozo the Clown, created by Larry Harmon half a century ago, has gone from children's recording star to international TV star, joining the American vocabulary along the way." [Italics added.]

Harmon's Cold Relationship With Bob Bell

Livingston says he was the one who developed Bozo's basic look. The clown's name, now a household word, was born during a late-night brainstorming session. Circus folk had long used "bozo" to refer to tramp clowns. But Capitol somehow copyrighted the whole enchilada and hired actors such as Harmon for personal appearances.

But Harmon had a different recollection in an Aug. 29, 1990, article in the Chicago Tribune, He said he based the clown's name on a famed Gypsy humorist named "Bozolowski."

"What stuck with me was those four letters," he told the paper. "It was a name everyone can pronounce. I tried it in all the languages. It came out the same."

He then went into detail about how he designed the hair and other characteristics: "I knew I wanted sort of a cotton-like fabric that I curled up and brought out to the sides," he was quoted as saying. "Red is one of my favorite colors. Red, white and blue I love. That's America."