A sandwich, glass of milk, and WGN’s Bozo Circus. That was the lunch menu for Chicagoland’s children in the 1960s and 70s. We’d hurry home from school and watch variety acts, cartoons, and the crazy antics of Bozo and the gang hoping to see the Grand Prize Game before we returned to school.
In 1980 the show’s time changed to 7 a.m. and continued to draw viewers of all ages for a total of forty years. It captured such a large audience that guests waited nearly ten years for tickets.
The question asked at the beginning of every show was, “Who’s your favorite clown?” My answer for the last 18 years has been “Wizzo,” the wacky, magical wizard and my husband. Marshall Brodien, AKA Wizzo, appeared on the show in a classic tuxedo several times a year beginning in 1962. In 1968 Marshall officially joined the cast as Wizzo, playing off the likes of Bozo (Bob Bell), Cooky (Roy Brown), Oliver O’Oliver (Ray Rayner), Sandy the Tramp (Don Sandburg), and Ringmaster Ned (Ned Locke) followed by Professor Andy (Andy Mitran), Frazier Thomas and the “new” Bozo (Joey D’Auria).
Wizzo’s signature “Do-dee-do-dee-do,” as well as his nutty, mysterious persona, quickly evolved into one of the show’s favorite characters. As many adult viewers as children eagerly tuned in to watch Wizzo’s latest antics and magic tricks.
On April 20, 2012, Marshall was honored for his contribution to Chicago television, most specifically his time on the air as Wizzo, with the induction to the prestigious Silver Circle. The celebration included photos, cocktails and appetizers, dinner and the presentation of awards. The voice of WGN, Dean Richards, presented the award to Marshall after a video composite of Marshall’s magical career.
Marshall also is known as one of the early TV pitchmen. Most notably, after founding Marshall Brodien Magic Company in 1969 his commercials for TV Magic Cards and Magic Sets made his name and voice nationally recognized. His famous tagline, “Magic is Easy, Once You Know the Secret,” became the patter of all young magicians of the 1970s and 80s including Lance Burton and David Copperfield. Marshall also pitched his magic products on Home Shopping Network and QVC in the 1990s.
Here’s to Marshall and the memories he created for grown-up children throughout Chicagoland.
©Mary K. Doyle