Frank Avruch, perhaps better known as Bozo the Clown, died Tuesday at age 89. Avruch, who died at his Boston home from heart disease, created the iconic character and originated the role in 1959, TMZ reports. He played the red-haired, frilly-collared clown until 1970 and was the first nationally-syndicated Bozo. "He had a heart of gold," manager Stuart Hersh tells the AP. "He brought the Bozo the Clown character to life better than anyone else's portrayal of Bozo the Clown." In addition to playing the character on the children's program Bozo the Clown, Avruch toured the world performing as Bozo for UNICEF.
After getting his start in radio, Avruch was a longtime Boston TV personality on WCVB, hosting The Great Entertainment and Man About Town and appearing on Good Day in addition to his Bozo duties. He was also inducted into the National Television Academy's Gold Circle. "While it's hard to say goodbye, we celebrate the legacy of joy and laughter he brought to millions of children around the world," his family says in a statement. "Our dad loved the children of all ages who remembered being on his show and was always grateful for their kind words. We will miss him greatly." Larry Harmon, who played Bozo after Avruch left the role, died in 2008. (Read more obituary stories.)