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Grants Pass Clown Recalls Early Days

A one-hour live radio broadcast featuring Chucko the Clown started in Los Angeles in 1954.  The Chucko the Birthday Clown Show had cartoons and games for children celebrating their birthdays.  It was so popular that parents in delivery rooms signed up their newborn babies for the program, hoping they would someday be chosen to appear on the program.

The original Chucko the Clown, Grants Pass, Ore., resident Chuck Runyon, reminisced from retirement in the 1970’s.  He told how much work went into planning the one-hour live broadcast. The writers had to come up with five original games for each of the five-day-a-week programs. This sometimes took them eight hours.

The show’s games were designed to have the children at home play along.  One time, a girl got into the studio and found Chucko’s dressing room, where she asked him to sign a cast on her arm.  She explained that she had been dancing the hokey pokey while listening at home to his show and had fallen off the couch, breaking her arm.

Runyon said the clown “represented the fun and laughter of a child’s world…a world that can be yours if you let it happen.”

Source: O'Harra, Marjorie. "'Chucko" Has Shelved His Clowning and L.A. for Quiet Life in Valley." Medford Mail Tribune 16 Apr. 1972: C 1. Print.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.