Born: July 25, 1916, Westmoreland, Kansas. Died: September 11, 1987, Overland Park, Kansas.
Frank Oliver Wiziarde, who became Whizzo the Clown, was born July 25, 1916, in Westmoreland, Kansas, to Jack O. and Laura "Lulu" Baldwin Wiziarde. Jack, was a trapeze artist; Lou or "Lulu" joined her Jack on the road after they were married. Frank and his younger brother, Jack, Jr., completed the act.
In 1930 they created the Wiziarde Novelty Circus, a traveling act that made appearances at stores, shopping areas, and any place where a crowd was desired. After high school, Frank went to Hollywood and appeared in a few films. In 1947 Frank became a radio announcer for KFEQ in St. Joseph, Missouri, where he became known for his man-on-the-street interviews.
Wiziarde went to work for KMBC-TV in Kansas City in 1953. The station wanted to produce a children's program, and Wiziarde came up with the idea for Whizzo, based on his experience performing as a clown. His show went on the air in 1954. He switched stations several times going to to KCMO-TV in Kansas City and then WIBW-TV in Topeka, but kept his character of Whizzo the Clown.
Whizzo jumped out from behind a curtain, tripped over items scattered around his set and sang the song he composed, "Who's always smiling, never sad? It's Whizzo!" Whizzo's set was always filled with props, most of which he made himself. His suitcase contained a number of amusing tricks (here's an image of the suitcase's other side). Among the animals on the show was "Hissy the Goose," who would drop down on Whizzo, give him a bump, and fly back up. Whizzo pretended not to know what hit him, only to be bumped repeatedly by "Hissy." It was up to the kids in the studio audience to explain to Whizzo what had happened.
There were many gimmicks to draw kids into the show, including becoming a member of Whizzo's Birthday Club. After all, "a Whizzo day was a happy day." Whizzo also made many shopping center appearances in the same fashion as the Wiziarde Novelty Circus had years earlier. President Ronald Reagan invited him to take part in the White House Easter Egg Hunt. Kansas City's Mayor H. Roe Bartle once predicted that if kids could vote, Whizzo would be Mayor of Kansas City.
Whizzo's last show was on May 20, 1987. Frank Wiziarde died September 11, 1987, in Overland Park, Kansas.
Entry: Wiziarde, Frank
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: June 2013
Date Modified: July 2014
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.