Charles Runyon, who as Chucko the Birthday Clown hosted children’s birthday parties on live television in Los Angeles in the 1950s and early ’60s, died Oct. 11 of respiratory failure in Grants Pass, Ore. He was 86.
Runyon’s beloved character introduced cartoons and played games with a studio audience of children, including two birthday kids who shared a large cake at the end of the show as Chucko sang his birthday song.
At one point, the waiting list for children to celebrate birthdays on the show was five years long, according to his son Randy.
Runyon developed the Chucko character for children’s birthday parties and to go with a merry-go-round that the family rented out in Long Beach, he said.
Charles Runyon’s mother sewed his red and white striped suit. His wife, Mildred, created Chucko’s makeup.
“My mom sat my dad down on the throne in the bathroom–the toilet–and made up his face with her lipstick and makeup,” said Randy Runyon.
Charles Runyon appeared on KABC from 1955 to 1963 and on KTTV from 1963 to 1964.
Randy Runyon said his father left TV when station executives wanted do away with the audience.
“Taking care of a live studio audience was a huge cost,” he said.
Survivors also include another son, Dan Runyon, six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
— Associated Press