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.
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.
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.
27 thoughts on “My First Day On The Set… Bozo The Clown”
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.
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!
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.
Yes! I was 4 or 5 when I won a Lily Munster drawing contest and got to go on the Dracula- Howell Eurich show. Was there a scary assistant named “Saw” there as well? Thank you for your heartfelt article and you too, Stephen. I was so shocked and sorry to hear a bout Howell’s passing and the despair he must have been in. He made a lot of kids very happy. Anne-Marie
Stevie! It’s Kat. You posted this a long time ago, but I just found it. Have often thought of you since the days at the Big 4 with David and the gang. Hope you are well and happy. Love, Kat
Your Dad was a very wonderful man, Stephen, and he loved you very much!! When I met you, you were the blonde version of your Dad…..so handsome, too!
His spirit lives on in all of us…..some in very, very special ways. I always remember and cherish them!
I lived in Las Cruces NM just 49 mile away from El Paso.
I remember seeing the show and watching the weather / news.
I recognized Howels voice as bozo as that of the weather man.
I always thought It was something special he did for the kids.
also went to a dinner theatre in El Paso and saw him in a couple play / skits.
Think I was high school freshman then.
I moved away and live in Ohio now.
Sad to think of the end of someone who seemed to enjoy giving something like that to Kids .
Kent, My sophomore year at Texas Western (the next year becoming UTEP) I started as a cameraman for KROD Television. I ran the audio and camera for the Bozo Show every weekday and also did the 6 and 10 pm news, weather, and sports. Howell Eurich was so good at being Bozo that Larry Harmon (the original Bozo and owner of the copyrights) brought ALL new Bozos from all over the country to El Paso to be trained by Howell. Howell’s sidekick was Snappy Pappy (Pappy Clark) and together they rocked. Howell was a dear friend of mine, magical personality, and a great showman not to mention how easy he was to work with. He and Pappy also starred at the Turn of the Century doing melodramas and entertained the adults as well as he entertained the kids on the Bozo Show. What a terrible loss…he was such a kind and wonderful person.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
My mom was Howell’s youngest and she was 3 months pregnant with me when he passed. I do so thoroughly enjoy reading these articles and memories that I come across every now and then. I’m so happy he made such a wonderful impression on your life.
I am very pleased to read these entries and appreciate all the positive comments and impact my father had on so many. Again, thank you for caring and sharing.
I loved the old Bozo show. My Girl Scout troop went to a taping. I won I giant Tootsie Roll full of candy. I also had a friend who worked at KDBC and he would tell wonderful stories about Howell and Fake and Puffy. It was so sad when he died.
Kent – I am so glad you posted your story. I was giving my daughter a bit of family history and decided to google to see if there was anything on Puffy.
My grandparents took care of Puffy after Howell’s death. We did not live in El Paso, but we visited as often as we could. I have fond memories of visiting the station, getting the giant tootsie roll, and seeing Bozo the Clown. Thank you for sharing – Lynn
Why was I thinking about Bozo? Don’t know. I just was. I remember being a child(Army brat) in El Paso, attending Dolphin Terrace Elementary School, watching Bozo, & going to Northgate Shopping Center. Northgate always had something happening. Fair rides, tight rope walkers, Mariachi bands, high school marching bands, elephant & camel rides, & Bozo. Northgate is where I met Bozo. I was so excited. He was larger than life. He talked to me. He honked my nose & patted my head. He compared his red hair to my Mama’s red hair. He made that little 7 year old girl very happy! Imagine all the other little children he touched with happiness. Thank you, Bozo. Your memory has a special place with me. As for the adults, many saw him doing dinner theater. How do I know? Mama & her friends were there to see him. Thank you for the article, Kent.
What a pleasure it was to read your story about my dad, Howell Eurich. My parents divorced when I was 3 so I too grew up watching him on TV. I am so pleased to know that so many are touched by memories of him. He was a kind man with a gentle soul and tender spirit. I never saw him angry, or heard him raise his voice or curse. He was generous with his time and corny and so funny. He was bigger than life to me and I adored him. Thank you for your story, it touched my heart.
Stephanie – I’m so glad you found my tribute to your father touching. I re-read it recently and was moved again myself. Another friend reached out to me after I shared this link in the recent thread on “Remember in El Paso when…”. He told me that Howell was Best Man in his wedding. Your father did touch a lot of lives and know that his memory lives on in many of us. God’s blessing on you and your whole family!
I, too, remember Howell Eurich. I enjoyed him as Howell the cartoon man and as Bozo and as host of the night owl theater on KROD back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Plus as a kid performer myself I had the pleasure and honor of doing a couple of CP telethons with him. He was always very kind to young people and it was very saddening to hear of his passage and its circumstances.
Hello Kent and I’m Dave and would like to add my very fond memories of your dad Howell Eurich having just found these sadly wonderful thoughts of one of the best actors and human beings I ever had the pleasure of knowing. I worked at KROD in El Paso Texas from October of 1971 to March of 1972 on a trainee work program I was on for the last six months of being in the army while stationed at White Sands New Mexico. What I remember most was how he would help me learn the business and part of it was helping him getting ready to do his Bozo show. He had a side kick (who I see wan’t mentioned with him on his Bozo the Clown show) called Gardo the Clown. Now Howell always, when I was there at least, would put his clown personae on at the station so I knew what he looked like without it on, but Gardo I never saw without his make-up on, even when I would go to his house to pick him up and bring him to the show he came out with his costume already on. He said he liked it like that and unfortunately I can’t remember what his real name was. I was from LA and grew up watching Bozo in the late 50’s and 60’s and have seen a few others from around the country but I have always felt that Howell was the best Bozo I ever watched. He invited us to the club he also worked at and did a stage routine that had me and others on the floor in laughter. His jokes were rude but in a very tamed way and I told him that he could be working at one of the major TV stations in the country (CBS, NBC & ABC at the time) but he preferred what he did there in El Paso. It was his kind of town:) How he did Bozo inspired me to create a character I used years later in my stand-up comedy acts I used to do at the Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip in the late 70’s. Another very fond memory of Howell was when he was giving away a puppy on his Bozo show. I told him I had a little girl named Stacy that wanted a puppy, so he made sure I won the dog as I brought her down to be on the show for that day. He was so very friendly, funny and immensely likable is what I remember most.
Oh my..so nice to find this..I was remembering bozo the clown and remembered when I was 4 I was picked to where the special hat..I didn’t remember the details but I had the picture of me and bozo ..wow fun memories. Thank you 🙂
I remember watching the Bozo show on TV and secretly hoping that my brother , sister and I would one day be oan teh show and perhaps even be chosen as Belinda or Butchie boy for the day. As I grew up and went to work in television news I had the opportunity to meet Howell and he was bigger than life with a wonderful and warm personality.
Thank you so much for the laughs and memories.
I was on the Bozo the Clown show one day, I think it was my birthday. I remember that day sitting in the bleachers I was a youngster. I was 10 or 11 years old. Bozo called me from the bleachers and I swung and missed the piñata. But On the Bozo show, everybody was a winner! Somehow, I won a 45 rpm record that day. It was a recording of the moon landing. I treasured that record. My Mom and Dad were friends of Steve’s. We lived on Bayo Street a little bit up the hill, one block from Album Park, aka Eastwood Park, aka Bayo Park. I met Steve when I was an adult. Last time I saw him, i was in college at DU. We were at the German deli near Lo-mart. I was with my mother Dolores. We ate cake and coffee and he regaled us w hilarious stories. He grabbed me by the shoulder and whispered in my ear as Mom and I said goodbye leaving the deli. He told me that Bozo was proud of me. What a guy…
Kent love the article I loved Bozo I grew up near the station in Wyoming and for my birthday I go to his show with neighborhood friends. Since then I liked clowns, he was a sweet man. I was crushed when I heard of his passing not sure why but I grieved for him and always wondered why such a happy person as he appeared to be, would take his life. I was too young to know that he was the weatherman. I will never forget Bozo!