Metro

Frank Avruch, former ‘Bozo the Clown,’ dies at 89

Frank Avruch in the lobby of the WCVB studios in Needham at the time of his retirement in 1995.
Globe Archives
Frank Avruch in the lobby of the WCVB studios in Needham at the time of his retirement in 1995.

Frank Avruch, a longtime WCVB-TV personality and entertainer known for playing “Bozo the Clown,” died at his Boston home Tuesday, the station said.

Avruch died at 89 “after a long battle with heart disease,” WCVB said in an article on its website, citing his family.

A Winthrop native, Avruch graduated from Boston University in 1949 and began a career in radio before stepping into television. He played “Bozo” from the late 1950s until 1970, and also hosted other locally produced shows such as “Sunday Open House,” “The Good Day Show,” and “Sunday Live!”

Advertisement

Avruch toured the world performing as “Bozo” for UNICEF and was given a United Nations Award for his work with children. He also earned two Emmy Awards and a “Man of the Year” award for his “tireless work for charities of all kinds,” according to the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame, which inducted him into its inaugural class in 2007.

Get Metro Headlines in your inbox:
The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

He was inducted into the National Television Academy’s Gold Circle, according to the station. He also served three terms as New England president of the American Federation of Television and Performing Arts, and was a Trustee of the Wang Center for the Performing Arts.

“While it’s hard to say goodbye, we celebrate the legacy of joy and laughter he brought to millions of children around the world as Bozo the Clown on TV and as a UNICEF Ambassador and later as host of Channel 5’s Great Entertainment and Boston’s Man About Town,” Avruch’s family said in a statement to the station. “Our dad loved the children of all ages who remembered being on his show and was always grateful for their kind words. We will miss him greatly.”

Avruch leaves “his wife, Betty, two sons, grandchildren, relatives and friends,” the station said.

Jacob Carozza can be reached at jacob.carozza@globe.com.