SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — There was a time when local kids shows were a staple of every TV station in the land. And one of the biggest names from that era was famous around the world.
But his heart was right here in Syracuse. Over the years, Bozo the Clown lit up TV screens every day in some 50 cities around the country and beyond.
The shows were almost all produced locally. And in every city, there was someone different under the greasepaint. When colorful Channel 9 brought Bozo to Syracuse in the early 1970s, the job went to Mike Lattif, a Syracuse native and SU grad who was working at the station as a news photographer.
After he was named Bozo, Mike spent two weeks in Dallas, learning how to do the voice and makeup.
His wife-to-be Judy worked with him on the show. She said Bozo developed a cult following among college students. They even did one show by request, with an audience of all university students.
Every day, Mike would pull on the familiar blue costume and orange yak-hair wig and lead kids in our ShoppingTown studio and at home through an hour of high-energy afterschool fun.
That fun included cartoons and audience-participation games, all live on the air.
He also made public appearances around Central New York, drawing huge crowds, showing up once in a helicopter, and another time dancing with a ballet company, giant shoes and all.
Mike spent about a year as the world’s most famous clown before moving on to a career that included a stint behind the scenes at the Children’s Television Workshop and the Electric Company.
He had his own media company, and later served the community in local government in New Jersey.
Friends and colleagues in Central New York still remember his exuberance, great sense of humor and kindness.
Mike died on Valentine’s Day after a long illness. He was 74-years-old. He leaves behind his wife and family, and many fans who still remember their old pal, Bozo.