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This was the boyhood home of Vance DeBar Colvig, better known by his stage name Bozo the Clown. Colvig was perhaps the most famous American clown and his program "Bozo's Circus" became one of the most successful children's programs. As a young boy, Colvig joined the Midway Circus and played a squeaky clarinet and went to school to draw cartoons. He worked on storylines with Walt Disney Studios and voiced famous characters, like Goofy and Pluto. Afterward, he stepped into the role of Bozo the Clown and performed this role until 1956. In the years before his death in 1967, Colvig worked to spread awareness of the connection between smoking and lung cancer and used his status to push politicians to require cancer warning labels on cigarette cartons.

  • This sign about the history of Bozo the Clown can be found on the white picket fence in the side yard.
  • Photograph of Bozo the Clown's Boyhood Home
  • Image of Colvig as Bozo the Clown.
  • Photograph of Vance Colvig (left), 1948.

Vance DeBar Colvig (1892-1967), known best for his role as Bozo the Clown, was born in Jacksonville, Oregon, on September 11, 1892 to Judge William and Helen Colvig. Colvig's childhood nickname was "Pinto" because of his freckles, and the humorous boy was also known for clowning around. Judge Colvig took 12 year-old Vance to the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon where the boy was able to perform in the exposition's Midway Circus. Colvig played a squeaky clarinet and wore oversized clothes and a clown face. The man who hired him at the exposition exclaimed that the boy "looked like a real Bozo."

Colvig continued to work with the circus in the summer. During the school year, he went to the Oregon Agricultural College, today known as Oregon State University, where he drew cartoons. In 1930, Colvig signed with Walt Disney Studios and worked on story lines. He later moved on to voice acting, performing characters like Goofy, Pluto, and dwarfs Sleepy and Grumpy.

Alan Livingston, the former president of Capital Records, created Bozo at the Circus for the children's record library in 1946. Bozo at the Circus sold over million copies, inspiring Livingston to expand the character into a television production. The show was called "Bozo's Circus" and aired on CBS in Los Angeles, California, in 1949. Colvig played the role of Bozo the Clown until 1956, one year before his death. Larry Harmon, an actor hired to portray Bozo the Clown at events, later bought the licensing rights to Bozo the Clown.

Colvig was also married twice in his life. In 1916, Colvig married Margaret Bourke Slavin in 1916, who died in 1950. He then married Peggy Bernice Allaire in January 1952.

Colvig died on October 3, 1967, from lung cancer. Colvig was a pioneer in advocating for warning labels about cancer risks on cigarette cartons in the United States. Nearly 40 years after his death, Colvig was inducted into the Clown Hall of Fame for his time as Bozo the Clown on May 28, 2004.

Halvorsen, Douglass. Bozo the Clown, The Historical Marker Database. January 20th 2018. Accessed January 7th 2020.

Wolf, Buck. Battling Bozos, ABC News. February 22nd 2006. Accessed January 7th 2020.

Pinto Colvig – the original Bozo the Clown, Famous Clowns. March 18th 2011. Accessed January 7th 2020.

Colvig, Pinto, Southern Oregon Historical Society. Accessed January 7th 2020.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Image by Douglass Halvorsen on the Historical Marker Database.

Image by Douglass Halvorsen on the Historical Marker Database.

Image from the Oregon Historical Society.

Image from the Oregon Historical Society.