TIMELINE
1940s
1950s
1960s
1970s
1980s
1990s
2000s

IMAGES

VIDEO

 

1970

Bob Bell receives an Emmy for WGN-TV’s "Bozo’s Circus" during a live broadcast of the 11th annual Chicago Emmy Awards at the Drury Lane Theatre in Evergreen Park, Illinois on WBBM-TV (CBS) in Chicago.

Intermittent Saturday rebroadcasts of WGN-TV’s "Bozo’s Circus" end after four seasons.

Bozo (Bob Bell) is the grand marshal of Chicago’s Christmas Parade on North Michigan Avenue. Police estimate the crowd size at 500,000. Ned Locke and Elizabeth Trench host WGN-TV’s live coverage. Trench also hosts WGN-TV’s "Romper Room."

"Bozo's Circus" on WHDH-TV (CBS) in Boston ends an 11-year run.

"Most magic tricks are easy once you know the secret" become household words after Marshall Brodien creates and markets his first magic product, TV Magic Cards.

1971

Larry Harmon Pictures Corporation takes over Capitol Records’ "Bozo the Clown" copyright.

Ray Rayner leaves WGN-TV’s "Bozo's Circus." During the next few years, Rayner, as himself, fills in as guest host when Ringmaster Ned Locke is absent and also makes a guest appearance as Oliver O. Oliver.

Pat Tobin joins WGN-TV’s "Bozo’s Circus" as Elrod T. Potter for intermittent appearances.

WGN-TV’s "Bozo’s Circus" welcomes its 500,000th studio audience member with prizes.

1972

Pat Tobin leaves WGN-TV.

Magician Johnny Thompson joins WGN-TV’s "Bozo’s Circus" as Clod Hopper for intermittent appearances.

WGN-TV boycotts the Chicago Emmy Awards as a result of a station employee election to protest what they feel is a pro-network affiliate bias in the award voting process by chapter members.

1973

The National Association of Broadcasters forbids children’s television show hosts from doubling as pitchmen for products advertised on their programs. Locally produced children’s programs begin suffering budget cuts and cancellation as a result of advertising revenue loss.

Johnny Thompson leaves WGN-TV.

Norm Nowicki leaves WGN-TV’s "Bozo’s Circus." Ron Weiner and Allen Hall become the producers.

Popular Chicago children’s television personality B.J. (Bill Jackson) and Dirty Dragon make a guest appearance on "Bozo’s Circus" to promote their move to WGN-TV after five years on WFLD-TV.

1974

Allen Hall becomes the sole producer of WGN-TV’s "Bozo's Circus."

The nationally syndicated Phil "Donahue" show moves from WLWD-TV (NBC) in Dayton, Ohio to WGN-TV’s Studio Two and Ron Weiner becomes the director.

"The BJ & Dirty Dragon Show" ends a one-year run on WGN-TV. (Three shows can be viewed at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.)

1975

Bob Trendler retires from television and his Big Top Band on "Bozo’s Circus" is reduced to a three-piece band led by Tom Fitzsimmons. Trendler has been with WGN-TV since the station went on the air in 1948. He joined WGN Radio in 1935.

Chicago Tribune Magazine features a cover story on Bob Bell and WGN-TV’s "Bozo’s Circus."

"Romper Room" ends a 17-year run (1954-1960 & 1963-1975) on WGN-TV. (One show, featuring a 1973 guest appearance by Chicago Cub Ernie Banks, can be viewed at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.)

1976

A snowstorm cancels a live broadcast of "Bozo’s Circus" at the WGN Studios. A taped show airs in its place.

Ned Locke retires from television. After presiding over the Grand Prize Game since its debut on WGN-TV’s "Bozo’s Circus," the show's staff turns the tables on Ringmaster Ned by having him play the game on his final show. (This program can be viewed at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.)

Frazier Thomas and the "Garfield Goose and Friends" puppets join WGN-TV’s "Bozo's Circus." Garfield "buys" the circus from Ringmaster Ned and "names" Thomas as the Circus Manager. Thomas also hosts "Family Classics," a weekly movie showcase created by programming executive Fred Silverman in 1962.

The "Garfield Goose and Friends" show ends a 24-year run on Chicago television. Host Frazier Thomas created Garfield Goose for "Meet the Little People" on WKRC-TV (CBS) in Cincinnati in the late 1940s. In 1951, they moved to WBKB-TV (CBS) in Chicago, where the "Garfield Goose and Friend" (later retitled "Garfield Goose and Friends") program debuted in 1952. After moving to WBBM-TV (CBS) in Chicago in 1953 and returning to WBKB-TV (ABC) in 1954, the show ended up on WGN-TV in 1955 where it remained. Artist/puppeteer Roy Brown created Garfield’s friends Romberg Rabbit, MacIntosh Mouse, Beauregard Burnside III and Gar’s nephew Chris (Christmas) Goose. (Portions of the series, including the last two shows, can be viewed at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.)

After appearing on the "Donahue" show at the WGN Studios, Gary, Indiana natives Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and their brothers visit "Bozo’s Circus," where they meet and pose for a photo with their childhood heroes Bozo (Bob Bell), Cooky (Roy Brown) and Frazier Thomas.

The 1951 animated short-film holiday classics "Hardrock, Coco and Joe," "Suzy Snowflake" and "Frosty the Snowman," an annual tradition on "Garfield Goose and Friends," move to WGN-TV’s "Bozo’s Circus."

1977

Viewers born on September 11, 1961 enter a random drawing to win tickets to WGN-TV’s "Bozo’s Circus" on its 16th anniversary.

1978

Bozo’s Fair and Square Contest wager backfires on Bozo (Bob Bell) when he unintentionally misspells the word "alphabet," forcing him to allow Cooky (Roy Brown) to lead the Grand March finale for the first time on WGN-TV’s "Bozo’s Circus."

WGN-TV’s "Bozo’s Circus" cast turns the tables on an unsuspecting Frazier Thomas during a sketch involving a pie fight. Before Thomas blows his whistle to stop the fight, Cooky (Roy Brown) hits him with a pie and the rest of the cast follows suit, leaving him covered with shaving cream.

Phil Donahue and Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic make guest appearances on the 17th anniversary of WGN-TV’s "Bozo’s Circus." The mayor proclaims September 11 "Bozo’s Circus Birthday" in Chicago and Frazier Thomas reads Illinois Governor James Thompson’s proclamation of "Bozo’s Circus Day" in Illinois. (This show can be viewed at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.)

WGN-TV begins airing nationally via satellite.

Vance Colvig, Jr. donates his and his father, Pinto Colvig’s, memorabilia to the Southern Oregon Historical Society in Pinto’s hometown, Jacksonville, Oregon.

1979

WGN-TV viewers participate by telephone in TV Powww!, an audio-activated video game, on "Bozo’s Circus" and "Ray Rayner and His Friends." The grand prize is a Schwinn bike.

A snowstorm cancels a live broadcast of "Bozo’s Circus" at the WGN Studios. A taped show airs in its place.

The 18,000-seat main stage area of ChicagoFest at Navy Pier in Chicago fills to capacity for a live WGN-TV broadcast of "Bozo's Circus." Illinois Governor James Thompson makes a guest appearance. The show is rebroadcast in prime time. (This program can be viewed at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.)

"Bozo’s Super Colossal Christmas Circus," a 60-minute prime time WGN-TV special, is taped before an audience of 4,000 at Medinah Temple in Chicago. The show is a benefit performance for service and community groups serving handicapped and other less fortunate children. (This program can be viewed at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.)

 

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