My First Day On The Set… Bozo The Clown

The first time I ever set foot in a television studio was when I was a young boy. A friend had a birthday and a portion of the party was to watch the taping of the local Bozo the Clown Show. In the early 70’s in El Paso, Texas, a local weatherman named Howell Eurich would dress up as Bozo and entertain the kids each week. The Channel Four Studios of KDBC-TV (formerly KROD) had a colorful and fun set where the filming occurred and although I don’t remember the content of the show I do remember being mesmerized by the cameras and lights and showmanship of it all.

I never knew, while I sat in the bleachers laughing with my friends as part of the studio audience, that my life was being shaped, but obviously it was. I’ve been in love with production for as long as I can remember… perhaps it has something to do with capturing and immortalizing a moment… perhaps it has to do with entertaining, educating, and enlightening… whatever it is it all started for me with a weatherman who would dress up in a clown’s outfit in order to entertain the kids.

I learned much later in my life that different television markets had their own version of Bozo the Clown. Apparently a TV Station could license the show and they would receive the clown outfit, wig, nose, shoes, and scripts. All they would need to do was provide the talent, lights, cameras & action.

I also learned some of the tragic events that would play out in the life of El Paso’s clown and weatherman, Howell Eurich. Apparently he fell in love with the stations weather-woman Gail Gordon (even though they were both married to other people at the time). Their affair blossomed on-screen, which they say was good for ratings. Together Gail and Howell adopted a platinum blonde Lasha Apso that became a TV star herself.

Puffy Little Cloud
Puffy Little Cloud

Named Puffy Little Cloud, the dog would appear with Howell and Gail on-air for the weather segment. Puffy had over 650 hats and 360 outfits in her collection, many of which were hand-sewn by adoring viewers. She would show up in a raincoat on the rare days when rain was in El Paso’s forecast and with sunglasses when hot weather was due. Some say Puffy would receive 50 letters a day from fans all over.

Howell Eurich & Gail Gordon (upper left)
Howell Eurich & Gail Gordon (upper left)

Puffy was the brides-maid when Howell and Gail were married, but not everything would work out the way they hoped. After five years together, the love affair that had blossomed in the television studio had run it’s course. Howell was broken-hearted and Gail was moving on. On Wednesday, November 3rd overnight clouds gave way to clear morning skies. By 10AM scattered clouds would dot the sky but the temperature would only rise to 57 degrees. That day Howell dropped Puffy off at a friends house and then went to the station to record one last commercial. Afterwards he drove home, parked his car inside the garage, and left the engine running. By mid-afternoon the clouds would vanish and the skies would clear, but the cloud of carbon monoxide in the garage would do its job. It was November of 1982 when Howell Eurich took his own life.

When I walked onto the set of “Bozo’s Big Top” as a child I didn’t know how significant a moment it would be for me. In 1982 when I heard that the local weatherman had killed himself I didn’t think much of it… I don’t believe I even knew that it was the weatherman who had played the role of Bozo all those years earlier. It wasn’t until 2012 or so that I started thinking about that day on the set so long ago that I began researching it and learned the story of Howell’s fate.

I wish I could send a note of thanks to Howell, or better yet, to meet him and to shake his hand and say “thank you”—not only entertaining us children by dressing up as a clown, but for unknowingly igniting a spark deep inside of a little blond-haired boy who would grow up to have a career in the film & video world. I guess I’ll just have to say it here… “Thanks, Howell… thank you very much!”


This autobiographical post is part of my series of short articles called “Events That Shaped A Life”. Keep your eye out for more posts from this series.

SOURCES: Weather details for Nov 3, 1982: Weather Underground. Other details: Tales From the Morgue, Genealogy Trails, Texas Monthly – October 1979 pg. 117, EPVMA Animal Hall of Fame.

Author: Kent C. Williamson

I long for peace, I believe in the power of music, and I live mostly on Mexican food. A few of my films... Stained Glass Rainbows, By War & By God, Rebellion of Thought, and When Love Walks In. I am the Founder of Paladin Pictures (aka the Paladin Media Group) as well as the Community Films Foundation. I'm the husband of 1 and the father of 6.

9 thoughts on “My First Day On The Set… Bozo The Clown”

  1. Kent,
    Thank you for sharing your experience on the Bozo show and article on my father. He was a great guy and really did care about El Paso.

    1. Stephen – Thanks for reaching out. It’s pretty cool to have such powerful childhood memories that obviously shaped my life. Like I mentioned in the article, I wish I could tell him thanks. I wish I could sit down and have him share some stories about those days. I bet they’d be interesting. May God bless us all richly as we cherish the memory of your father! Best to you!

      1. Kent, I grew up in El Paso and watched Bozo nearly everyday after school. Howell also hosted a few other shows. As I recall, he played a Dracula type character introducing the scary movie on Friday nights. He was an icon of my childhood. Such good memories of him. Thanks for sharing your memories.

  2. I don’t know if this will mean anything, but Howell was a very good friend of my family. My mom worked at the station with him. I knew him as well as someone my age could know someone that much older. He also did the Cerebral Palsy telethons as the emcee and I got to know him through those. I can tell you without a doubt that he would have been thrilled to know he inspired you to go into film and video. He loved doing Bozo, just as he loved the other afternoon shows he did-Pete the Projectionist, Mr. Mustache and another one which escapes me at present. Good to know you have such fond memories of him.

    1. Thanks for sharing your comments, Robert. I appreciate hearing that. I’d love to see some clips of those old shows you mentioned. Your mother may know more details, but if I believe Bozo (and probably the others as well) were “live” shows and were NOT recorded. If that’s the case, then they’re all just lost to the airwaves. Hopefully someone out there has a copy of one they can share.

  3. Kent,

    I had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate my birthday with Bozo the Clown in El Paso…when I was 3 years old. I think that is why I enjoy clowns today and do not understand all the negativity that they receive now.

    And, like you, I was fascinated by television production and have spent my career in the video production industry. With more than 25 years under my belt as a video editor and graphic designer, I am now working on my certification and teaching Audio/Video Production at a high school in Houston.

    I strongly identified with your story and felt compelled to comment. Thank you for the nostalgic reflection.

    1. Gerald – Thanks for your comment. Looks like our lives/careers were shaped in a similar fashion. I saw your name and thought… wait a minute, didn’t we go to school together? I graduated from Coronado in 85.

  4. Kent,

    I grew up with Howell Eurich in the background of my life. My older siblings used to watch him host old movies in the 1950’s late at night as “Howell the Night Owl.” In the 1960’s, He was seemingly on television and radio constantly, doing commercials for any number of local businesses. During the Summers when I wasn’t in school, I watched him during the week on a local Channel 4 chat show called Four Noon. He was an after-school fixture, first hosting a cartoon show and later appearing as Bozo. He was also involved with “El Paso’s only Gay Nineties Melodrama Theater,” appropriately named The Turn Of The Century Theater-Restaurant. The building, a former fire station, is still standing at 2317 Texas. An odd location for a theater, even in the 1970s. I moved to California before he became a weatherman, but my parents kept me apprised of the Gail Gordon/Puffy saga and his unfortunate death.

    My parents also took me to KROD to the set of a Saturday morning kiddie show in the late 1950’s, but it did not inspire me to become involved in television or movie production. I’ve never gotten any closer to show biz than my dentist’s office, which is across the street from Sony Pictures Studios (formerly MGM). He makes a nice chunk of change leasing part of his building to Sony for television show editing, because they don’t have enough space to accommodate everything on the studio lot.

    Cheers.

    1. Dave – Thanks for posting. It’s great to hear the different connections to Howell and the different projects he was involved with. Funny story about your Dentist’s office. The reality is he’s probably making more money off of the entertainment biz by leasing to Sony than most people do who are in the biz! Thanks again for sharing your memories!

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