January 2, 1925
|Died||July 3, 2008
Los Angeles, California
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Known for||Bozo the Clown|
Harmon was born in Toledo, Ohio and raised in Cleveland. During World War II, he served as a private in the Army. Upon returning, he harbored dreams of becoming a doctor, until he met legendary entertainer Al Jolson. According to Harmon's autobiography, The Man Behind the Nose, Jolson told him, "Being a doctor of medicine is honorable, but you'll touch so many more lives as a doctor of laughter!" Harmon instead attended the University of Southern California, where he majored in theater and performed in the Spirit of Troy marching band.
In 1956, Harmon purchased the licensing rights to the Bozo character from Capitol Records. Harmon marketed the Bozo property aggressively. By the late 1960s, Harmon had licensed local Bozo TV shows in nearly every major U.S. market, and across the world in places as far away as Thailand, Greece and Brazil. Harmon also produced a series of Bozo animated cartoons intended to be shown with the live-action show, performing Bozo's voice himself.
Harmon's animation studio also produced eighteen Popeye cartoons in 1960 as part of a larger TV syndication package.
In the mid-1960s, Harmon bought the merchandising rights to the likenesses of Laurel and Hardy from the comedians' widows; and promoted a Laurel and Hardy TV cartoon series, the animation work on which was done by Hanna-Barbera Productions. Harmon performed Stan Laurel's voice in the series. In 1999, Harmon co-produced and co-directed a live-action feature, The All New Adventures of Laurel and Hardy: For Love Or Mummy, starring Bronson Pinchot as Laurel and Gailard Sartain as Hardy. Intended as the first of a series, it was released direct to video and no sequels were made.
He wrote an autobiography right before his death titled The Man Behind the Nose: Assassins, Astronauts, Cannibals, and Other Stupendous Tales, which was published in 2010 by Igniter Books. One of Harmon's alleged ex-wives disputed the veracity of the memoir.
Harmon was married four times and had four children: filmmaker Jeff Harmon, and daughters Lori Harmon, Marci Breth-Carabet and Leslie Breth.
- Dennis McLellan, Larry Harmon, 83; entrepreneur made Bozo the Clown a star, Los Angeles Times, July 4, 2008.
- The Man Behind the Nose Book Description at www.harpercollins.com
- Bozo the Clown: The Unusual History of Bozo the Clown
- Rogers, John (July 4, 2008). "Larry Harmon, longtime Bozo the Clown, dead at 83". SFGate.com (San Francisco: Hearst Communications). Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- McKay, Hollie (August 25, 2010). "Ex-wife of Bozo the Clown claims lies, infidelity in new book".
- "Larry Harmon, Who Popularized Bozo, Dies at 83". Associated Press in The New York Times. July 4, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
Larry Harmon, who bought the rights to the character Bozo the Clown and turned him into a show business staple that delighted children for more than a half-century, died Thursday at his home here. He was 83.