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Frank Avruch, 89, was the beloved entertainer who played Bozo the Clown on TV

Frank Avruch, left, who played Bozo the Clown from 1959 to 1970, poses with manager Stuart Hersh, centre, and Caroll Spinney in New Jersey in 2009.

Stuart Hersh/associated press

Long-time Boston television personality and entertainer Frank Avruch, who was the star of the popular children's TV program Bozo the Clown, has died. He was 89.

Mr. Avruch died Tuesday at his Boston home from heart disease, his family said in a statement to WCVB-TV.

Mr. Avruch played Bozo the Clown from 1959 to 1970, a clown character particularly popular in the United States in the 1960s because of widespread franchising in television.

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Mr. Avruch became the first nationally-syndicated Bozo the Clown.

"He had a heart of gold," manager Stuart Hersh said on Wednesday, "He brought the Bozo the Clown character to life better than anyone else's portrayal of Bozo the Clown."

Mr. Avruch also was a contributor to WCVB-TV for more than 40 years as a host of Man About Town and The Great Entertainment.

He was an active philanthropist and a board member of UNICEF'S New England chapter. He toured the world performing as Bozo the clown for UNICEF.

"He touched so many people with his portrayal," Mr. Hersh said.

Mr. Avruch leaves his wife, Betty; two sons, Matthew and Steven; and several grandchildren.

"While it's hard to say goodbye, we celebrate the legacy of joy and laughter he brought to millions of children around the world as Bozo the Clown on TV and as a UNICEF ambassador and later as host of Channel 5's Great Entertainment and Boston's Man About Town," Mr. Avruch's family said in a statement to the station.

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"Our dad loved the children of all ages who remembered being on his show and was always grateful for their kind words. We will miss him greatly."

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