BROWN, WHO PORTRAYED ‘COOKY THE COOK’ ON
WGN-TV’S ‘BOZO SHOW,’ AND WAS PUPPETEER FOR
‘GARFIELD GOOSE AND FRIENDS,’ DIES
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.
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
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."