On May 1-2, 2011, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers
will offer a Hammond electric organ with speakers from the set of WGN-TVs Bozo's Circus. The whereabouts of the organ, used by Mr. Bob Trendlers thirteen-piece Big Top Band for fourteen years, have remained a mystery since 1975.
The Bozo character was created in 1946 by Alan Livingston for a series of Capitol Records childrens albums. Larry Harmon, one of the first Bozos, bought nationwide franchise rights for the clown in 1956, and Chicagos Bozos Circus soon premiered on WGN-TV. The program was an instant hit with children so popular, in fact, that it was often said that newlyweds would immediately join the shows waiting list in anticipation of having children.
The show featured comedy sketches, circus performances, games and prizes with a live studio audience of more than 200 people. Bozo's Circus also included a thirteen-piece Big Top Band, conducted by Robert "Mr. Bob" Trendler. Trendlers retirement in 1975 marked the end of the Big Top Band, and with it the use of the programs electric circus organ.
An engineer employed by WGN-TV and radio for 46 years insightfully foresaw a downsizing of the Big Top Band, and in 1971 submitted a check for the organ with the agreement that he would take ownership when its usage ceased. In 1975 the organ was quietly carried out the back door of WGN studios, and for the rest of the Bozo's Circus staff, its location is unknown.
The organ and speakers will be offered as historic Chicago and television memorabilia during an Americana session of the auction house's Fine Furniture and Decorative Arts auction. For more information please contact Corbin Horn at 312-280-1212.