April 12, 2019 | By: Martin Cribbs
As agents for some of the most legendary icons in history, we created our own, informal, ‘Proust Questionnaire for Personality Brands’ to examine how our notable clientele became icons in the first place and how we can help their loved ones frame their long-term legacies.
This month we’re focusing on Bozo the Clown, and the actor Larry Harmon who, after purchasing the rights to Bozo, was responsible for his worldwide fame and success. We’re particularly happy to feature the world’s most famous clown as he has always been a source of simple, silly joy – something we can all use more of these days. (For decades, the inflatable Bozo ‘bop bag’ has been a staple of children’s toys.) For this piece, we spoke to Marci Breth-Carabet, the Vice President of Larry Harmon Pictures.
1. Tell me what you do in relation to Bozo the Clown. I am the Vice President of Larry Harmon Pictures Corporation. I’m responsible for the business affairs of the company, including licensing opportunities, promotions and legal affairs.
2. What about Bozo distinguishes him from other iconic characters? Bozo has an innocent wisdom that has made him a friend, teacher and entertainer to millions of kids and families around the world for more than 60 years. His primary goal has been to make people happy, to laugh and to make the world a better place.
3. What was Larry Harmon’s greatest virtue? Larry Harmon’s greatest virtue was his ability to relate to people of all ages, races, ethnicities and religions. He was one of the most positive people you could ever meet. If you asked him how he was doing, he always answered with: “Better than yesterday, but not as good as tomorrow.” While he was an astute businessman, he saw an opportunity, at a very young age, to develop a character in Bozo that could withstand the test of time through Bozo’s goal of making people happy. Larry’s warmth and energy were infectious as well and was definitely evident in the Bozo character.
4. Share 5 adjectives that best describe Bozo from your perspective. Kind, Fun, Energetic, Caring, a Friend.
5. What is the primary message you want to impart to history about Bozo? When Larry first developed the Bozo character, traveling to every TV station in the U.S. to sell the Bozo Show, among other countries, he made it clear that the Bozo character represented P-U-L-L - the acronym for PEACE, UNDERSTANDING, LOVE and LAUGHTER. Every Bozo Show also ended with the words, “Just remember what your ol’ pal, BOZO, always says…Just Keep Laughing!” Kids and families trusted Bozo and knew that while they were with Bozo, they could laugh, have fun and put their troubles behind them at least during those moments. People may also not know how much charitable work Bozo has done over the years; with organizations such as UNICEF who Bozo helped to raise millions of dollars for food and medical supplies for children in various countries of the world.
6. What does Larry Harmon’s legacy do, right now, in the present tense? Larry Harmon was a television pioneer who began his career by entertaining audiences through his own appearances on television and in films. He then saw an opportunity to spread his message of laughter and happiness throughout the world through Bozo by selling the Bozo Show to every TV station throughout the U.S. (183 TV stations in total at one time), and to many TV stations in other countries. By today’s standards, this could be considered an early version of TV syndication. He also was a pioneer in the licensing industry, licensing the Bozo character for the past 60 plus years on many hundreds of products, such as toys, clothing, games and more, and continuing to this day.
7. What do you like about Bozo’s continuing presence in today’s culture? The people who grew up with and watched the Bozo Show on TV fondly remember the warmth, excitement and love for Bozo that they could count on in their lives to bring them joy and happiness each day or week. It is necessary now more than ever in today’s world for us all to live by Bozo’s message of Peace, Understanding, Love and Laughter. Bozo’s impact on the world is still evident today when hundreds of thousands of Bozo fans come see Bozo during his various appearances in Chicago on behalf of WGN-TV.
8. The dictionary defines myths as “a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone; one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society.” Who or what has contributed to Bozo’s ongoing presence, positive mythmaking, and what are ways that happens? I believe that much of what has contributed to Bozo’s longevity and ongoing presence is Larry Harmon’s perseverance and belief in the importance of spreading Bozo’s message of happiness through kindness, acceptance, tolerance and understanding throughout the world. By having Bozo reach his fans through speaking their language in their country during every Bozo Show, by dubbing the Bozo cartoons in many different languages and by having Bozo’s all over the world participating in charitable work to help people of all ages, socio-economic levels, races and religions, he has been able to spread Bozo’s positive messages to this day.