Cool Things - Whizzo the Clown TV Show Props
If you were a kid growing up in Kansas City or Topeka from 1954 to 1987, there's a good chance you knew Whizzo and will recognize these props. He entered your home through the medium of television, introducing cartoons and entertaining with his simple, goofy humor.
Who's always smiling, never sad? It's Whizzo!
Who makes the boys and girls so glad, Whizzo.
He's a merry fellow with a big red shiny nose,
Dressed in crazy mixed up clothes
From his head down to his toes.
Whizzo the Clown was actually Westmoreland native Frank Wiziarde, born July 25, 1916, into a circus family. Frank's father, Jack, was a trapeze artist, and his mother Lou, joined her husband on the road after their marriage. It became a complete family act with the addition of Frank and his brother, Jack, Jr.
In 1930 they created the Wiziarde Novelty Circus, a traveling act that made appearances at stores, shopping areas, and any place where a crowd was desired. But the circus life had its up and downs, and by 1947 Frank was working as a radio announcer in St. Joseph, Missouri, where he became known for his man-in-the-street interviews.
Frank went to work for KMBC-TV in Kansas City as a director in 1953. The station was looking for ideas for a children's program, and out of his past experience as a circus clown came the idea for Whizzo. He went on the air in 1954, and though he switched stations a couple of times (first to KCMO-TV in Kansas City and later WIBW-TV in Topeka), Whizzo remained a children's favorite.
Whizzo's set was always filled with props, most of which he made himself. His suitcase contained a number of amusing tricks (here's an image of the suitcase's other side). Among the animals on the show was "Hissy the Goose," who would drop down on Whizzo, give him a bump, and fly back up. Whizzo pretended not to know what hit him, only to be bumped repeatedly by "Hissy." It was up to the kids in the studio audience to explain to Whizzo what had happened.
There were many gimmicks to draw kids into the show, including becoming a member of Whizzo's Birthday Club. After all, "a Whizzo day was a happy day." Whizzo also made many shopping center appearances in the same fashion as the Wiziarde Novelty Circus had years earlier. President Ronald Reagan invited him to take part in the White House Easter Egg Hunt.
Wiziarde's daughter, Michele, gave much of her father's collection to the Western Historical Manuscripts Collection at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which then transferred props used in the WIBW-TV program to the Kansas Museum of History. WIBW-TV donated "Hissy the Goose" to the museum in 1996.
He has a great big trunk of tricks, has Whizzo.
He'll sing a song or do a dance for you.
And when you're sad he'll make you glad,
The very best friend you ever had,
Whizzo the clown, that's who.
Entry: Cool Things - Whizzo the Clown TV Show Props
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: October 2003
Date Modified: March 2013
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.