Bozo was a popular clown character who was licensed to television stations across the U.S.
The Bozo character first appeared in the 1940s as a mascot for record company Capitol Records, but it was not until 1956 that Bozo began showing up on TV stations across the country. That’s when the creative rights to Bozo were purchased by Larry Harmon, an entrepreneur who began franchising the character to local TV stations – including WRAL – that began producing their own Bozo the Clown shows.
At WRAL, Bozo was portrayed by the legendary Paul Montgomery, who went on to fame as “Uncle Paul.” Montgomery was legally blind, but each day he donned a red nose, pancake makeup and baggy costume as he portrayed America’s most famous clown.
WRAL-TV ended the Bozo show in 1961 when the franchise contract became too expensive. In its place came a program titled “Time for Uncle Paul,” which propelled Montgomery to stardom.
Perhaps the most famous performer to portray Bozo was Willard Scott, who later became the lovable weatherman on NBC’s Today Show. The syndicator of the Bozo franchise claims that more than 200 actors have appeared as the clown since television franchising began in 1956.