Thursday, June 15, 2006

Flippo the Clown--Bob Marvin--Has Died

Michael Meckler writes of the death of a Central Ohio legend, Bob Marvin, who for many decades was Flippo the Clown on WBNS-TV in Columbus.

Meckler is obviously younger than me, only remembering Marvin as the host of afternoon movies that aired prior to the 6:00 local news. But I remember a long period before that, when Marvin was on the air for only one hour, from 5:00 weekday afternoons, hosting 'Popeye' cartoon shorts.

Marvin was one of those TV characters who could be appreciated by adults as well as children, the clown costume notwithstanding.

He had been a mainstay in the Columbus area for years before donning the make-up, having played in the Big Band of my grandmother's cousin, Chuck Selby (an unsuccessful candidate for Franklin County commissioner one year, by the way).

Marvin's wise-cracking goofiness was a part of my childhood through college years in Columbus. I met him several times, usually at personal appearances he traveled to in his Isetta, a small car that had one door that opened where the windshield and the steering column were. As a child, I lived for hearing him announce my birthdays on his show or watching him showcase my crayon-drawings of him, no doubt among hundreds of thousands of such portraits he received through the years. I never liked clowns, but I loved Flippo!

A friend of my mother-in-law, a man who was a personality on WBNS during Marvin's long era, went to see the former TV clown at the care facility where he lived before his death. Predictably, the spontaneously zany Flippo chafed under doctor's orders and confided his intentions to eat whatever he wanted once he got out of that place. It wasn't to be.

[See these reports from The Columbus Dispatch and from ONN as well.]

[Thanks to Michael Meckler for linking to this post.]


Charlie said...

Every time a clown dies, I'm reminded of the episode on the Mary Tyler Moore show when Chuckles the clown was killed by an elephant.

Mark Daniels said...

That's a classic episode, maybe my favorite from what I consider to be the second-best comedy series of all time...after The Dick Van Dyke Show.

But Marvin as Flippo was nothing like those seltzer-squirting ninnies that populated local TV stations' programming back in the day. He had a huge following among students at Ohio State and other central Ohio colleges, for example. He was more like Johnny Carson than Bozo. Yet, there was an innocence in his patter that made it possible for kids to watch and enjoy him.

He was also, by the way, always available to lend his hand and his name to local charities.

Thanks, Charlie, for reading and commenting on the blog.


Brian said...

I was fortunate to grow up next door to Bob Marvin. As funny as he was on the show, he was even funnier as a neighbor. With my family name of Gaber, he would tell his audience of his neighbors the Gabers.
Bob was a very good jazz saxophonist and influenced me in that way as well. After hearing him play, I decided that I wanted to be a musician. 30 years later I am teaching music at Florida State University.

I will leave you with a classic Flippo joke.

Flippo: I was arrested for something I didn't do.

Straight man: What was that?

Flippo: I forgot to wipe my finger prints off of the safe.

We all miss him.


Mark Daniels said...

It was great to read your remembrances!

The joke was vintage Bob Marvin.

Thanks so much for taking the time to write.



JJ said...

Does anyone know where I can find a list of all the movies that Flippo showed on his afternoon early show? I am looking specifially for a movie that he showed in 1962-1963--an end-of-the-world movie in which a mother with a small baby was wandering through the countryside.