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GUEST INFORMATION 10-28-2013
7:10 Scott Hunt from National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers (Season 3) The new season of Doomsday Preppers premieres Tuesday, October 29 at 9 p.m. ET/PTon National Geographic Channel. Scott Hunt is the owner of Practical Preppers, LLC, a company that specializes in determining how prepared an individual is in case of a disaster.
8:10 Dr. Dennis Powers, "Visiting Past and Present"
Pinto Colvig: Bozo the Clown (And More)
By Dennis Powers
Vance “Pinto” Colvig was one of seven children and born in Jacksonville in 1892; his parents were Addie and William and his dad practiced law. William Colvig was in demand as a speaker and was widely known as Judge Colvig, although he never had been one. “The only judge I’ve ever been,” he loved to tell others, “was a judge of fine whiskey.”
Vance received the nickname of “Pinto” due to his face full of freckles. Descended from Rogue Valley pioneers on both his mother’s and father’s side, he grew up in Jacksonville and Medford, attending school and playing clarinet in the town bands. An extrovert like his dad, Pinto would try to get a part whenever the vaudeville came to town. He enjoyed getting attention and worked at this, such as when he rode a calf through the town’s main street. Pinto always “wanted to be somebody.”
Studying art at Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University), he played in the cadet band and drew cartoon illustrations for the college yearbook. Colvig would ditch his classes every spring, however, to travel throughout the country as a circus clown or play on the vaudeville circuit.
After graduating, he worked the vaudeville circuit and became in 1914 a staff writer and cartoonist in Reno, then later in Carson City, Nevada. Colvig was definitely the entertainer, as he joined then a circus.He married Margaret Slaven in 1916 and moved with her to San Francisco where four of their five sons were born.
In San Francisco, Colvig was a writer and cartoonist for the San Francisco Bulletin, drew “Life on the Radio Wave” (a United Features Syndicate cartoon series) for the San Francisco Chronicle, and worked in the beginning days of film animation. In 1919, for example, he created “Pinto’s Prizma Comedy Revue,” which was an animated cartoon.
The Colvig family moved in the early 1920s to Hollywood, where during the silent movie era, Pinto wrote titles, gags, and scenarios for numerous films. While at the Keystone Film Company, he combined animation with live action by hand-drawing cartoons over film frames that were made of live actors.
In 1930, Colvig’s career took off as sound pictures began and with his signing of a contract with Walt Disney. Although best known as the original voice of Disney’s Goofy (and later Bozo the Clown), he did the voices for many characters including Oswald the Lucky Rabbit; Grumpy and Sleepy in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”; the Practical Pig in “The Three Little Pigs”; andthe barks for Pluto the dog. Colvig worked not only for Disney, but also for Max Fleischer Studios, where he voiced as Bluto in the Popeye cartoons and Gabby in “Gulliver’s Travels.” He did Munchkin voices in MGM’s, “The Wizard of Oz,” and is even credited with the Maxwell automobile on Jack Benny’s radio show.
In 1946, he developed the Bozo the Clown character for a read-along children’s record series that was produced by Capital Records. He made the first voice recordings, wrote some of the first songs, and made the first live appearances of Bozo. He played the grinning, red-haired clown from then into the early 1950s, and Colvig starred in “Bozo’s Circus,” a television series broadcast only in the Los Angeles area in 1949, all while making appearances during this time at children’s hospitals and orphanages.
Notwithstanding his residing in Hollywood, Colvig kept up his local connections by returning to see Southern Oregon friends and even serving on different occasions as the Grand Marshal of Jacksonville’s Gold Rush Jubilee Parade. He kept up with his childhood friends, including one to whom he wrote letters “adorned with cartoons” for years to her. Pinto commented later that he “put all the hicks in the world into (the voice of) Goofy and all the mean, old codgers of Jacksonville into Grumpy.”
A lifelong smoker, he died of lung cancer in 1967 at age 75. Before his death, he worked with Oregon Senator Maurine Neuberger to promote her bill that required warning labels on the cancer risks on cigarette packaging.
Pinto Colvig was honored posthumously in 1993 by Disney Studios with the Disney Legend Award. In 2004, the International Clown Hall of Fame in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, inducted him. At that time, the organization named him as the original Bozo the Clown instead of Larry Harmon, who had purchased the identity from Columbia Records in the mid-1950s and then played the character on network television, including training many of the clowns.
Pinto Colvig, however, was able to live the life that he wanted--and, in turn, enriched many.
Sources: John Darling, “Jacksonville’s ‘Pinto’ recognized as original Bozo the Clown,” Mail Tribune, May 29, 2004, at Bozo the Clown; Dawna Curler, “Oregon Encyclopedia: Vance DeBar (Pinto) Colvig (1892-1967),” at More on Pinto Colvig; Bill Miller, “Present of the Past,” Mail Tribune, July 11, 2013, at Mementos of the Past; “Southern Oregon Historical Library: Colvig, Pinto,” at Pinto Colvig Short Bio.
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