'Bozo the Clown' Actor Frank Avruch Dies at 89

Longtime Boston television personality and children's entertainer Frank Avruch, best known for his role in Bozo the Clown, died on Tuesday. He was 89.

Avruch, who starred in the popular children's TV program from 1959 to 1970, died at his home in Boston from heart disease, WCVB reports.

Avruch's family also issued a statement following his death.

"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," his family said. "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."

During more than 40 years on the air, Avruch dabbled in several roles on television, working as a Good Day contributor, host of The Great Entertainment and WCVB's Man About Town.

"In this business that is not known for longevity, I have managed to hang in there for a long time," Avruch said during a retrospective of his career when he was inducted into the National Television Academy's Gold Circle.

Avruch, a graduate of Boston University, started his career in radio before making the transition to television.

"I've done it all. I've done radio, I've done TV, I've done booth announcing, disc jockey shows... interviews — serious interviews, not-so-serious interviews," Avruch said previously.

But even covered in makeup and an elaborate costume, his most recognizable role was portraying Bozo the Clown from 1959 to 1970, which gained popularity with the rise of residential televisions in the 1960s.

"A lot of people when they talk to me now, they are sort of hesitant to bring it up. How could this suave, somewhat sophisticated man be this guy with red-orange hair and big shoes? And I said, that is one of the highlights of my career," he said.

Avruch became the first nationally-syndicated Bozo the Clown on television, though the character was also played by Bob Bell, Larry Harmon and Joey D'Auria.

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"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."

Avruch is survived by his wife Betty, sons Matthew and Steven, grandchildren, relatives and friends.