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WGN Entertainment Critic Dean Richards will host a live hour-long tribute to Roy Brown this Sunday, January 28 at 11:00 a.m. CT on WGN Radio (AM 720) and wgnradio.com.

CHICAGO, January 22, 2001 - Roy Brown, the man behind Cooky the Cook for 25 years on “Bozo’s Circus” and “The Bozo Show” on WGN-TV, passed away this morning due to a heart ailment. He was 68 years old.

After joining WGN-TV in 1955, Brown gave the gift of laughter to three generations of Chicago area television viewers. Mr. Brown retired from WGN-TV in 1994 and was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame in 1993. Brown not only portrayed Cooky the Cook, he actually created the character while still an artist and puppeteer for WGN-TV's "Garfield Goose and Friends" show.

Brown first auditioned for the role on "Bozo's Circus" in 1968 when producer Don Sandburg, who also portrayed Sandy the Tramp, announced that he was leaving the show. Excited by the opportunity, Brown consulted with Sandburg, who suggested Brown create a new clown character and perform this character at the audition. With only three days until the audition, Brown experimented with 60 different clown characters. He worked with makeup, costumes and even a discarded Bozo wig, which he trimmed and restyled, before choosing the clown he would portray.

Brown said the idea for Cooky originated from occasional on-air dialogue between Bob "Bozo" Bell and Ray "Oliver O. Oliver" Rayner about the horrible circus food. Brown developed a character who was responsible for cooking the wretched circus meals. After just 72 hours of preparation, he presented Cooky the Cook for the first time during a live airing of "Bozo's Circus." The audition paid off and he became a member of the cast.

Roy Thomas Brown, the father of four sons, was born in Tucson, Arizona on July 8, 1932 but his roots were in Chicago. His mother, an artist, encouraged her young son to take advantage of all her art materials, which she kept in a studio in her home. Although his mother offered guidance and instruction, it was Brown's choice to pursue a career as a commercial artist specializing in cartooning.

At the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, Brown studied fine art painting and cartooning. Before graduating, he auditioned for the "Garfield Goose and Friend" show. Frazier Thomas, the character's creator and host of the show, awarded Brown the job of graphic artist on the program's "Magic Drawing Board" as the show prepared to debut on WBKB (now WLS-TV) in 1952. Brown's duties expanded and his versatility as an artist and puppeteer became apparent as the show moved to WBBM-TV in 1953, WBKB-TV in 1954 and WGN-TV in 1955. He designed and drew all of the program's openings and closings, publicity, Garfield Goose birthday cards and other paraphernalia. He also created and painted art boards that illustrated Garfield Goose's adventures away from the castle.

As the show's puppeteer, Brown not only brought life to the Garfield Goose puppet, he designed and constructed Romberg Rabbit, MacIntosh Mouse, Chris (Christmas) Goose and Beauregard Burnside III. He also developed puppets for WGN-TV's "The Blue Fairy," "Bugs Bunny and Friends," "Dick Tracy," "Paddleboat" and "Treetop House."

In 1965, he created a puppet version and voice characterization of the Chicago Tribune's Cuddly Dudley for the "Ray Rayner and His Friends" show, which carried over to "The Bozo Show" in 1981. Brown received a Chicago/Midwest Emmy award for his portrayal of Cooky on "The Bozo Show" in 1992. In 1993, he was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame as well as the Chicago Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' "Silver Circle" for over 40 years of distinguished service in the television industry.

Upon his retirement in 1994 and while reflecting on his years at WGN-TV, Roy Brown commented, "I am the luckiest guy in the world to have worked at a job I loved and I'm going to miss it dearly." Roy Brown made his last public appearance as Cooky on October 25, 2000 during a taping of "The Bozo Super Sunday Show."

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