Each local show had its own Bozo, the most famous being Chicago's Bob Bell, who played the clown for 24 years on WGN-TV, and famed weatherman Willard Scott, who put on the floppy shoes for a stint in Washington.
"Harmon's problem is that he can't bear another clown getting any credit," says Joan Roy, Bell's daughter. "That's his baby."
Harmon made it impossible for Bell to wear his Bozo costume when Bell was inducted in the Clown Hall of Fame in 1996, Roy says.
"My father was 74 and frail," she says. "Imagine how disappointed the kids were when the man known as Bozo came to the stage without makeup and in a suit."
Harmon has claimed he didn't bar Bell from wearing his Bozo costume. In a 1984 Chicago Tribune article, he even gushed over the closeness between the two clowns.
"He was a natural Bozo," Harmon said. "Bob was able to jump into my soul … He was able to reach into my mind and my emotions, because Bozo was me … And Bob has my love for the children, my sensitivity, my understanding."
In the same article, however, Bell recalled a cooler relationship with Harmon: "I haven't seen him for years. He never calls. He never comes around. Even when he's at the station, contracting for his cartoons, he never stops in and says hello. Never." Listen to Your Inner Clown
Harmon never portrayed Bozo on a TV show for a sustained period. He did provide Bozo's cartoon voice, and clowned around at U.N. functions and at zero gravity with Apollo astronauts.
More importantly, without Harmon's marketing skills, Bozo's "yowie-kazowie" custard pie fights and orange wing-tipped hair would never have reached a generation of children.
"You have to admire Larry Harmon for his skill at marketing Bozo," says Joey D'Auria, who took over for Bell on the last Bozo show, which went off the air in 2001. "I doubt that the Bozo name would be what it is today."
Indeed, Harmon has many achievements to his credit. But can he share the Bozo legacy?
On TV, Bozo often said, "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." Now, once again, Harmon might want to listen to his own internal Bozo.
Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files is published Tuesdays. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.