Here's a French cartoon clip of Harmon's Bozo in action. Enjoy.

Before there was Krusty, there was Larry.

Larry Harmon, the man who delighted millions of kids as Bozo the Clown for more than five decades, has died. He was 83.

Longtime publicist Jerry Digney announced that Harmon passed away from congestive heart failure on Thursday at his home in Los Angeles.

While not the original Bozo, Harmon honed the clown's trademark look, adding the orange clumps of hair, the big red nose and that crazy red, white and blue costume.

He was also responsible for making the clown a household name after he and a group of investors bought the licensing rights to the character from Capitol Records in the early '50s.

Harmon & Co. licensed Bozo to local TV stations in nearly every major U.S. station and farmed him out globally to such far-flung countries as Thailand and Brazil.

Those stations in turn hired various actors to portray Bozo, including Bob Bell for WGN-TV Chicago, and perhaps most famously Willard Scott, who donned the makeup before becoming the longtime weatherman for NBC's The Today Show.

"We didn't have satellite, syndication and networking like today," Harmon once told Reuters in an interview. "So, I created my own network of local clowns and productions, a cross-country operation that kept me on the road for 50 weeks a year for decades."

Aside from making countless personal appearances as the character over the years, Harmon trained over 200 Bozos, marketed a variety of Bozo merchandise and even helped hatch a cartoon.

Bozo became so ubiquitous in pop culture that the name ended up coming to define zany, foolish behavior. He and his TV show also served as an early inspiration for Krusty the Clown's hijinks on The Simpsons.

Harmon is survived by his wife of 29 years, Susan Harmon, son Jeff Harmon and daughters Lori Harmon, Marci Breth-Carabet, Ellen Kosberg and Leslie Breth.

(Originally published July 3, 2008 at 8:56 p.m. PT.)

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