Scream actor David Arquette has acquired the rights to beloved 20th-century children’s entertainer Bozo the Clown and has big plans for the character.
Arquette spoke to Chicago’s WGN-TV about the sale, which he says was 15 years in the making. Arquette is a longtime Bozo fan, having watched the character on television as a child. Appearing almost giddy in the interview, Arquette said, “Bob Bell’s portrayal of Bozo was always my favorite. It just lit my heart up, and I want to bring that kind of joy to the people of the world.”
Created in 1946, Bozo the Clown gained national popularity after the rights were transferred to Larry Harmon, whose name became synonymous with the Bozo brand. Bozo became a successful franchise across the US and beyond under Harmon’s leadership, with several local television stations airing their own programs starring various versions of the clown. Chicago’s Bozo’s Circus premiered in 1961 and soon became the most popular children’s program in television history during its 40-year run.
Arquette’s plans for the character include opening a permanent museum in Chicago full of Bozo memorabilia and building a “family of Bozos,” possibly around the world. “At one point there were 200 Bozos throughout America and Mexico and Brazil, so we really want to sort of replicate that,” he said. “You have to kind of think of it as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” When asked whether he plans to create new Bozo programming like television shows and movies, Arquette responded, “Absolutely.” Arquette also said he wants the brand to reflect “the world we have now,” with more of an emphasis on diversity.
It’s no secret that in recent decades, clowns have become less of a form of children’s entertainment and more of a horror staple. Arquette acknowledged the obstacles involved in the undertaking. “There’s a lot of rebuilding we need to do for the love of clowns in general,” he said. “But we’re being really sensitive about it — there’s going to be a lot of charity involved.” He also mentioned a “new take” on clowns and the circus as a concept. In that vein, Arquette is bringing a pop-up interactive circus experience to the Empire Stores shopping complex in Brooklyn, New York this November, with plans to bring it to Chicago at a later date.
It’s currently unclear whether Arquette himself will don the Bozo suit. However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility, since clowning is in the family — he says his father dressed up as a clown for all his birthday parties growing up.
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