Frank Avruch, Star of ‘Bozo the Clown,’ Dies at 89

Boston native played the character from 1959 to 1970 and became first nationally syndicated Bozo

bozo the clown frank avruch
Mayor John F. Collins records, Collection #0244.001, City of Boston Archives, Boston

Frank Avruch, the Boston-based performer who starred in the first nationally syndicated “Bozo the Clown,” died Tuesday at age 89.

According to Boston’s WCVB, where he worked for more than four decades as an on-air personality on a variety of shows, he died after a long battle with heart disease.

The graduate of Boston University got his start in radio but is best known for putting on the greasepaint and red wig to play Bozo in the early heyday of television, from 1959 to 1970.

Though many stations nationwide had their own kids’ show starring a clown named Bozo, Avruch’s became the first nationally syndicated version.

“He had a heart of gold,” manager Stuart Hersh told the Associated Press on Wednesday. “He brought the Bozo the Clown character to life better than anyone else’s portrayal of Bozo the Clown.”

“While it’s hard to say goodbye, we celebrate the legacy of joy and laughter he brought to millions of children around the world as Bozo the Clown on TV and as a UNICEF Ambassador and later as host of Channel 5’s ‘Great Entertainment’ and Boston’s ‘Man About Town,’” Avruch’s family said in a statement to WCVB. “Our dad loved the children of all ages who remembered being on his show and was always grateful for their kind words. We will miss him greatly.”