Frank Avruch may be best known for playing Bozo the Clown to a generation of kids, but the impact of the 89-year-old's life extends much further than the children's program.
Avruch, who died this week at his home in Boston after a battle with heart disease, played the television clown between 1958 and 1970, putting the character on the map. The show grew to be hugely successful under Avruch and eventually became syndicated nationwide, the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame noted when Avruch was inducted.
While the show helped Frank Avruch gain national fame, he did much more for children in his work behind the scenes. Avruch was a noted philanthropist, supporting children's causes and even touring the globe for the United Nations Childrens' Fund, bringing Bozo the Clown to children in Asia and South America.
"He had a heart of gold," WCVB-TV station manager Stuart Hersh told the Associated Press (via the Hollywood Reporter). "He brought the Bozo the Clown character to life better than anyone else's portrayal of Bozo the Clown."
"He touched so many people with his portrayal," Hersh added.
Avruch's family also took note of his philanthropy in a statement announcing his death, noting that he "loved the children of all ages who remembered being on his show and was always grateful for their kind words." Avruch did not draw much attention to this work, instead quietly dedicating his time and money to causes that helped children.
Avruch continued his presence in Boston-area media long after he stopped playing Bozo the Clown, voicing commercials and promotional announcements. He was known for his "Man About Town" segments and work hosting The Great Entertainment.
Frank Avruch's death generated international interest this week, with news reports focusing on the impact he had on television and bringing to life the Bozo the Clown character, which would continue to grow through syndication and other performers playing the role. Avruch's name was among the trending terms across social media as well.
Many people took to social media to share their memories of growing up watching Bozo the Clown, including many who appeared on the show as children or knew Frank Avruch personally.Frank Avruch is survived by his wife, two sons, several grandchildren, and generations of children who remember him as Bozo the Clown.