Page last updated at 04:30 GMT, Friday, 4 July 2008 05:30 UK

Man behind 'Bozo the Clown' dies

Larry Harmon (right) and Bozo the Clown in 1996
Mr Harmon (r) created a network of Bozo the Clowns

Larry Harmon, the man who popularised the show business character Bozo the Clown, has died of congestive heart failure at the age of 83.

Mr Harmon did not create the balding, flame-haired character, but played him in numerous appearances over the years.

He purchased the copyright in the 1950s and licensed the character to others, including TV stations across the US.

The stations then hired their own Bozos who were trained by Mr Harmon. The Bozo Show aired on US TV from 1961-2001.

Bozo job

In addition, 156 Bozo cartoons have played in almost every country in the world.

Over the years he trained about 200 actors to play the clown.

"We didn't have satellite, syndication and networking like today," he said in an interview.

"So I created my own network of local clowns and productions, a cross-country operation that kept me on the road for 50 weeks a year for decades."

The character was created by Alan W Livingston for a series of children's recordings in 1946, and Pinto Colvig was the first to play the clown, Associated Press news agency said.

Mr Harmon got a job as Bozo to promote the records and later bought the copyright.

Mr Harmon passed away at his home in Los Angeles, his publicist Jerry Digney said.

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