Bozo, The Clown!
Larry Harmon (left), the original Bozo the clown, and the current Bozo (right) pose with aspiring Bozo's at a Hollywood audition. (Photo by © Steve Starr/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
So, help me out here… How did clowns ever become known for being a kid thing? Most kids I know, including my own, have always found clowns to be scary and off-putting. Clowns have been around for thousands of years. Originally, they were instituted to amuse royalty and rulers of countries. That being said, those they entertained had control over the content of their subject matter. As time marched on, the concept of the clown took on a slightly different dimension.
The purpose of the modern-day clown was/is, still, to entertain, although some appreciate clowns more than others. It goes without saying that currently, clowns do what they want and are not under the control of superiors. Over the years, many showbiz clowns have forged their way to the top of the entertainment industry; some more successful than others. Bozo, the clown, was one of the more successful ones.
The word, “bozo”, dates back to the early 1900s, although its origin is uncertain. We, however, have come to associate the word as being synonymous with a big, annoying, rude, obnoxious and “stupid” person. The word is, obviously, usually associated with something negative. At some point, we have probably heard someone being referred to as a “bozo”.
Negativity, however, is not necessarily associated with Bozo, the clown. Bozo was a loveable clown that that first appeared in the 1940s as an illustration for children’s “read-along” books. Soon, Bozo carried over to the 1960s and beyond. A guy named, Alan Livingston, is the original creator of Bozo, but eventually sold the rights to the character.
The character, Bozo, is associated with the trademark look of the stiff red hair, white face, big red nose and flamboyant clothing with oversized shoes. Bozo was unmistakable!
The original, red, Bozo wig was fashioned out of yak hair that was glued to a canvas and burlap “foundation”. After the hair was sufficiently teased and styled, it was sprayed with a coat of heavy lacquer. The lacquer was to ensure that the style kept its outrageous form. Crazy, right? Maybe so but women everywhere do the same thing even now!
Forget about the crazy clown image … Bozo was also known for having educational value. If kids could get past the creepy clown thing, there were lessons to be learned. That, however, was the downfall of Bozo. Nobody cared what, if any, wisdom or insight he had to impart. The reason people watched him was because he was a spectacle.
So, in case you wanted to know more about clowns...
• An exaggerated or irrational fear of clowns is called ‘coulrophobia’.
• It is estimated that 2% of adults possess extreme ‘coulrophobia’.
• The earliest clowns were found in ancient Egypt, around 2400BC and in ancient imperial China, where a court clown was the only one permitted to make light of Emperor Qin Shih Huang’s plan to paint The Great Wall of China.
• A fear of clowns may manifest in young children just learning to recognize human features. Clowns possess abnormally large noses, ears, hands and feet.
• Internet clown instruction/education is available… Oh, SCORE!
• The average clown will earn $38,000 a year, according to Indeed and Simply Hired. Rodeo clowns can make up to $50,000.
• Johnny Depp is a famous clown-o-phobe.
So, there you have it, folks…
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