Unless you grew up in the 1950s or ’60s, it’s impossible to describe the runaway popularity of Bozo the Clown. It was a simpler time, when a man with oversize shoes and pointy red hair captivated a nation: Kids were nuts for Bozo, and adults too. Comedy is so complicated these days, with your LOLcats and your John Daly and your random idiot Chicago Cubs fans. But there was a time when hilarity consisted of just a bulb horn and some seltzer down your pants. That was comedy you could understand.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (and that name is pretty fun right there) have a direct link to those halcyon days of comicality in rookie pitcher Trevor Bell, who happens to be the grandson of one of the original and most famous Bozo the Clowns.
Bell, 22, made his MLB debut on Wednesday and went 5 1/3 innings, giving up nine hits and four earned runs in the Angels’ 10-5 win over Tampa Bay. The game was in Anaheim, so there wasn’t a clown costume in sight. We can’t guarantee the same if Bell ever pitches in Chicago, however.
That’s where his grandfather, the late Bob Bell, portrayed Bozo on WGN-TV from 1960-1984.
Trevor Bell, who comes from an acting family, was featured in a number of commercials for products such as Hot Wheels and firms like Old Navy growing up. But he considers that mainly a hobby now, having gone nearly two years since his last gig, a spot for Russell Athletic.
“I was actually a hitter in it,” he says. “So that was kind of weird.”
Here’s another thing that’s weird: Bell’s grandfather was Bob Bell, the original Bozo the Clown on WGN, from 1960-1984. “I still love it. I don’t mind that at all,” Trevor Bell says of the constant questions his gets about his grandfather, who died when he was 11. “I get asked about my grandfather and I’m glad to answer any questions.”
The CHICAGO TRIBUNE story credits Bell with being the original Bozo, but that’s only partly true. There were dozens of different Bozos in different television markets (including Canada and Mexico), and Bell was the original at only one of them, Chicago’s WGN. The actual original Bozo was Pinto Colvig, who first portrayed the character on children’s records in 1946, and then on KTTV in Los Angeles in 1949. Colvig also provided the voice of Goofy for Walt Disney.
But Bell became one of the most popular Bozos. In fact, Dan Castellaneta, who does many voices on “The Simpsons”, credits him with the inspiration for the voice of Krusty the Clown.
Is this a young Trevor Bell in the Hot Wheels commercial shown below? Quite possibly.