Bobo the clown is surrounded by a crowd of children reaching out to touch him
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Bobo the Clown

Bobo the Clown Collection

A star of 1960s children's TV

The first program broadcast on Adelaide television station SAS10 on 26 July 1965 was The Bobo Show, starring Charles ‘Hal’ Turner as Bobo the Clown.

When Turner appeared in public as Bobo, he was mobbed by children. At the height of the clown's popularity in the mid-1960s, Bobo's young fans could join The Bobo Club, purchase Bobo dolls and drink Bobo cordial.

Gail Kelly, Hal Turner's daughter, has donated to the NFSA a large collection covering her father's career. It includes Bobo costumes, scrapbooks and merchandise.

You can explore highlights from the collection below.

Bobo the Clown visits the Heinz Factory
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1460033
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Bobo the Clown visits the Heinz food factory in Adelaide. Children gather at the entrance of the factory and Bobo greets them and the officials. He then takes a tour and rides a fork lift and proceeds to hand out party bags to the children.

The children wear party hats with the 'Heinz 57' slogan, introduced by Henry J Heinz in 1896 throughout the world.

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Bobo mobbed by young fans
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By the mid 1960s Bobo’s popularity was at its peak. Turner was frequently mobbed by large crowds at public appearances. 'Playmates’ could become members of The Bobo Club and throughout Hal Turner's scrapbooks there are numerous letters children wrote to Bobo.

 

Bobo the Clown dolls complete with clown makeup and ruffles around their necks.
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Clown dolls dressed as Bobo
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As Bobo's popularity grew, so did the range of Bobo-related merchandise. These two dolls appear to be commercial items that have been 'refitted' to look like Bobo. Note that their noses are red whereas Bobo's nose was blue. They could be Bozo the Clown dolls, based on the famous American clown.

Hal Turner as Bobo the Clown
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1460106
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Year

This clip from Hal Turner's home movies includes footage of him performing as Bobo the Clown with his daughter Gail as Lenny the Lion. The footage also shows his wife, Pearl, setting up a stall at the Adelaide Show and Turner celebrating his wedding anniversary.

As Bobo, Hal Turner first appeared in an ensemble cast on NWS9’s children’s program, The Channel Niners. In addition, Turner also wrote, produced and acted in the station’s Christmas pantomimes including Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Aladdin. He was also hosting two radio programs as Bobo and wrote a newspaper column. Bobo quickly became a household name, first in Adelaide and then nationally.

Turner left NWS9 and began a five-month publicity campaign of public appearances, radio interviews, charity work and special events for the soon to be launched SAS10. Meanwhile at NWS9, Bobo’s old station, Rex Heading was developing a new character, Humphrey B Bear. The iconic children’s TV character first appeared on Here’s Humphrey on 24 May 1965 and ran until 2008 as the second-longest-running children’s TV program in the world. 

Cordial wrapper featuring a drwaing of Bobo the Clown, 'Anchor' brand name and flavour
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Bobo cordial
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As Bobo's popularity grew, a range of merchandise was created including Bobo-branded cordial in lemon and lime flavours.

Blue clown cape with white fringe and white oval in centre with Bobo stitched in red letters
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Bobo the clown cape
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A blue cape worn by Hal Turner when performing as Bobo the Clown in the early 1960s.

Black slipper with large, dark blue pompons
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Bobo the Clown slippers
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Slippers worn by Hal Turner when performing as Bobo the Clown in Adelaide in the early 1960s.

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Bobo the Clown costume
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1459399
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Bobo the Clown costume worn by Hal Turner during the first half of the 1960s.

Bobo the Clown with a group of Aboriginal men holding spears, boomerangs and a woomera
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Bobo with a group of Aboriginal men
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Bobo the Clown with a group of Aboriginal men holding spears, boomerangs and a woomera. This image was taken in the 1960s at the height of Bobo's popularity and appears in one of Hal Turner's scrapbooks.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons