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Charles Runyon as Chucko the ClownChucko the Clown - Charles M. Runyon played the role of the happy-go-lucky clown who celebrated children's birthdays every morning at 7:30 AM on the Los Angeles-based kiddie show THE CHUCKO THE CLOWN SHOW that aired on KABC from 1954 to 1962 (7years, 7months, and 7 days) and KTTV from 1962 to 1965.

Like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, Chucko the Clown was the symbol of the fun and wonder of a child's birthday. Those invited to the show had to get up early in the morning around 4:00AM and travel across the Southland to get to the studio to attend the festivities. But even so, the program proved to very popular and was never wanting for an audience. Reportedly, there was a five-year waiting list to get on the show.

Besides the obvious birthday celebration that honored a variety of kids on their special day (including a communal birthday cake), Chucko entertained his guests with ad-libbed comments, stories, games (pie eating contests), cartoons, stunts and sing alongs. He signed all his autograph pictures with the gentle sentiment "May all your days be as happy as birthdays." The show's sponsors included Chocks Vitamins, Fizz-Ade, Ovaltine and Barbara Ann Bread.

Runyon's wife Mildred created the original makeup for Chucko the Clown and Chuck's mother, known as "Mammy," designed and sewed all the Chucko wardrobe.

Chucko's merry little theme song professed "I'm Chucko, I'm Chucko, I Chucko the Birthday Clown; I'm Chucko, Yes, Chuckol I'm the happiest guy in town!"

Chucko's Happy Birthday Song

Here's a hap, hap, happy birthday from me (that's me)
 to you (that's you)
Have a hap, hap, happy birthday...may your every wish come true
There'll be toy balloons and prizes for you (that's you) for me (that me)
Lots of animals in all sizes just as happy as can be
There's a birthday cake with ice cream, too
 and you're in for a big surprise
And when you make your birthday wish be sure to close your eyes.
Here's a hap hap happy birthday from me (that's me)
 to you (that's you)
May all your other birthdays be as hap, hap, happy as the
one we've had with you.
Yes Sir, Happy Birthday!

When the executives at the TV station wanted to change the format of the show and eliminate the live studio audience of children and just run cartoons, Chucko the Clown decided to end the show. The station had already been running "Chucko Cartoon" spots Monday through Friday at 10:00 AM and 6:00PM.

Before Charles Runyon got his gig at Channel 7 KABC-TV he was already a successful clown performer playing parties and other events all over the San Fernando Valley. The biography "Are Clowns Hatched?" by Mildred Runyon chronicles the life Charles (Chucko the Birthday Clown) Runyon.

After Runyon retired his Chucko the Clown act, his son, Randy continued to play the role from 1971 to 1995. The new Chucko appeared on the NBC soap SANTA BARBARA in the 1980s and danced up a storm on THE ARSENIO HALL SHOW in1991.

The original Chucko now lives in Grants Pass, Oregon. He spends his time raising quail, ducks, pheasants and peacocks with his wife on Chucko's Bird Farm. You can contact him at e-mail:

TRIVIA NOTE: The "o" in "Chucko" was taken from the name of Joseph "Joey" Grimaldi who is considered to be the father of modern clowning.

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