The Bonomo Magic Clown was the main character in a children's television program sponsored by Bonomo, makers of Turkish Taffy candy.
Bonomo Turkish Taffy was a unique candy confection that was most popular during the 1950's and 1960's. Harder than traditional taffy, the product was named "Turkish Taffy" as a nod to the Bonomo family's Turkish roots. The candy was made to be cracked into small pieces by slamming it hard on a table or on the sidewalk. It came in three flavors: vanilla, chocolate and banana.
Tico Bonomo, the son of company founder Victor Bonomo, created the Bonomo Magic Clown Show with the express intention of using it as a marketing vehicle for the candy. In the 1950's, it was permissible for a single sponsor to pay for a program AND make the product an important part of the show. This tactic was especially effective in children's programming.
Tico's idea was to use either a magician or a clown. He decided on the best of both- a magic clown. A few years later, this same logic would be used to create the Ronald McDonald character for McDonald's.
The "Magic Clown" show was set as a magic circus, complete with circus-themed comedy sketches, games, magic tricks and even a live studio audience of excited children.
The program premiered on September 11, 1949 on NBC-TV in New York with "Zovello" (Sam Wishner) as the host. Zovello was a seasoned promoter and magician, and was perfect for the role of the hard-selling magic clown show host. His hand puppet "Laffy" ryhmed with "taffy". Read more about Zovello
Andre Barruch, a veteran radio announcer and actor, was the show's announcer and straight man for the Magic Clown's antics. He also did all of the live commericals for the candy.
After Zovello left the show, the second actor to play the Bonomo Magic Clown was Dick Dubois, from 1952 until 1958. During his time with the show, it was moved to WABD-TV beginning on Sunday, June 27, 1954. Read more about Dick Dubois
On Saturday, September 27, 1958, the show moved again, this time to WNTA-TV in Newark, New Jersey. With the move, the show got a new actor to play the Bonomo Magic Clown. Comic character actor and puppeteer Doug Anderson took the role, along with his wife Gayle, changing the format of the show a bit to include crafts lessons, more comedy skits and even in-studio interviews with guest personalities. Read more about Doug Anderson
Though the new format was very popular, the Andersons and the TV station had creative differences, and the show was cancelled. The last broadcast was on Friday, July 24, 1959.
That was not the end of the show, however. In 1970, a Canadian television station revived the concept, with James Randi (The Amazing Randi) playing the role of the Magic Clown. The program lasted one year.
Credit: This biography originated on MagicTricks.com. Please credit this source if you use this information.