A personal relationship with Bozo & Me
Posted April 29, 2010on:
For years when our kids were little, we watched the Bozo Show on WGN television. Staying to see the grand prize game cut it close to when the kids had to leave for school, but this was Bozo after all. It was important stuff.
You can imagine the excitement the first time we saw some kid actually toss a ping-pong ball into that seventh and farthest away bucket and win all those great, or swell, prizes. We jumped up and hugged each other.
Naturally, I wanted to take my kids to see this show in person and wrote a letter to Bozo himself. It was the real Bozo as the clown was franchised across the country and even internationally with local stations hiring their own actors for Bozo.
I wish I still have the letter that I wrote as my husband brought it up Saturday when we were visiting Michael and his GF, Jenny, in Minneapolis. I talked about having been in the audience the previous week of Oprah (who I wrote about as Rahop so her legal team didn’t sue me).
That led to being in the audience for kids television shows growing up in the 1950s. Although I never heard Susan called by Miss Lois on Romper Room, much to my dismay, I did get to see Texas Bruce in St. Louis, a real cowboy born and raised in Montana.
My mom got us on somehow. I think we were Texas Bruce’s wranglers for Andy’s birthday or a Cub Scout field trip. Texas Bruce chatted with us wranglers between cartoons.
Whether we were in the studio or at home watching, Texas Bruce always ended his show with, “Hasta la vista vaqueros. I’ll be seeing you wranglers!”
After the 2008 death of Harry Gibbs, who played Texas Bruce, fans wrote about their experiences on the website for KSDK.
“I was so sorry to hear about Texas Bruce passing away,” Strong Minded wrote. “It was a ritual for me, too, to rush home from school to watch Texas Bruce and Howdy Doody. I still remember the camera on each “Wrangler” as they said their customary “Hi Mom, hi Dad, hi everybody.’”
I remember mouthing those words, too, whenever I pretended to be interviewed on televison, but had no idea where they came from.
KSDK Guy described in his comment about how he had lost faith in his TV hero. “I watched Texas Bruce faithfully every day when I was a child and I thought he was the greatest. I was about 5 years old and my parents took me to Sunnen Lake in MO. I saw Texas Bruce on the dock and I was so excited to see him. I asked my dad if I could meet him. My dad started walking over to him and Texas Bruce put up his hand and indicated we should stay away from him. I never watched his show again. I will always remember this and thought that it was a bad thing to do to a small child.”
These hosts became celebrities to kids and could hardly live up to our expectations for them.
St. Louis didn’t have Bozo; we had Corky the Clown and other characters, including a show called S.S. Popeye. It was later changed to Cookie and the Captain, perhaps because of copyright infringement?
Fifties television for kids were on before school or late in the afternoon after school. This was an era when there were just three stations – one each for ABC, NBC and CBS. Public television came a bit later. The stations all went off the air after prime time programming.
When shows were not on, the television showed an unmoving test pattern, which we eagerly sat and looked at waiting for our shows to come on. It is interesting that the image was of an Indian. That would never happen today and shouldn’t have back then.
As far as Bozo, I apparently wrote one hell of a letter. I don’t still have it, but I think I had a numerated list of why we should get tickets and it must have been pretty funny. We didn’t get any tickets, though. Timing wasn’t everything.