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Artist Details

Terry Teene
Date Born/Group Began:
Date Died/Group Ended:
Also Known As:
Clownzo the Clown (gregzsidisin)
ToBo the Clown (TheGreatBongo)
  • In addition to being a recording artist, Terry Teene has apparently had a long career being a professional clown. (gregzsidisin)
  • Terry Teene is one of the co-creators of the character and costume of the very first incarnation of Ronald McDonald... not Willard Scott (TheGreatBongo)
  • Terry and his band, Terry and the Pirates performed weekly on television, for eight weeks, during his High School years. I believe this is his first step in his long show business career. (TheGreatBongo)
  • Invented Ronald McDonald but never took credit. (wcrules1963)
  • Photos:
    Artist Images:

    Messages about the artist: "Terry Teene"

    TheGreatBongo   Offline  -  Member  -  08-02-06 03:56 PM  -  17 years ago
    Terry Teene and George Voorhees invented the character, costume and original design of Ronald McDonald with french fry bag pockets and a food tray hat. This was before Willard Scott had anything to do with it, although Willard Scott has claimed to have 'sat down and invented' Ronald McDonald. I'm not totally sure whether George Voorhees or Terry Teene was the first to portray the character, but it was one of the two of them.

    For his subsequent performance as Ronald, Willard Scott felt quite comfortable 'borrowing' the costume design from Terry and George's creation, though his face makeup was pretty much identical to his characterization of the syndicated figure of Bozo the Clown.

    I worked with Terry Teene hundreds of times for well over a decade, while he performed as Clownzo the Clown. I owe a lot of my success as a performer and teacher to what Terry generously taught me.

    With his easy mastery of clowning (he taught classes in clownology) he taught me much of what I came to consider the 'core concepts' of clowning... not just 'how to be funny', no, his expertise went far beyond that. He taught me how to handle the business side of being a performer, how to handle bookings with professionalism, how to control a crowd of rowdy kids without seeming to do anything, he taught me clown customs and circus traditions, how to share a stage gracefully as well as when and how to take the spotlight.

    As a musician, Terry seemed to know absolutely everyone in the business... more importantly, they all seemed to know him too, whether from working for them, entertaining at their homes, or working with them somewhere, everyone would remember Terry. An example, we were on our way home from a gig and passing the LA Convention Center, when he told me the Coasters, the Drifters, and the Platters were all playing there. I mentioned casually that that would be a fun show, and he got off the freeway, and parked in the performer's lot. (Clowns get in almost anywhere with no questions, so I was used to this... but thought there would be little chance of us being admitted at the stage door.)

    Terry told the guard at the door to get someone from one of the bands, and tell them Terry Teene was there... well before the guard could argue much with the goony clowns we appeared to be, one of the band members had shouted a welcome to us from down the hallway, and made both of us their guest. Though I was completely unknown to any of them, each of the members of all 3 bands treated me as a welcome friend, just on the strength of being there with Terry.

    Needless to say we quite enjoyed the concert, seated in the front row reserved section.
    Tim P. Ryan   Offline  -  Participant, MP3  -  08-09-06 09:16 AM  -  17 years ago
    Thanks for the great write-up and bio, Bongo.

    TheGreatBongo   Offline  -  Member  -  04-23-09 02:43 AM  -  15 years ago

    There is a write-up on him at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame:

    and I found this on a backwater of wikipedia after Terry Teene was deleted (I suspect Some Big Company doesn't like the fact that he created their //////most Recognisable Icon, which is one of the most valuable advertising images in the world, and never paid him for it.):

    Quote: "Terry Teene is one of many aliasis of a semi-famous actor/singer-songwriter/performer named TERRY BLAINE KNUTSON. This man, Terry Knutson, is actually my father and many things he has done in his lifetime are actually true. He was the proprieter of Ronald McDonald, he wrote and sung "Curse of the Hurse" and acted in many movies/television shows. If you have any doubts or want to verify any information about "Terry Teene", "Clownzo", "Tobo the Clown" or "Terry B. Knutson" You can email me at or check out this website --> Thank you. Sincerely, His Own Son- Kelly B. Walker-Knutson

    P.S. as for the below quote "(who has never even tasted beer, he's so moral)" this is very true. My father never drank even a sip of beer, nor coffee, and rides his bike to church every sunday."

    I can also attest to his having never to my knowledge ever done anything to cheat anyone, never drank beer, and was a true patriot and defender of the Constitution and the rule of Law during the entire time I knew him.

    I bet Kelly would be happy to give you more info if you asked nicely. I just yesterday saw a picture of Kelly, his sister, and me in clown regalia. Nice to 'bump into' Kelly here.
    TheGreatBongo   Offline  -  Member  -  04-23-09 02:46 AM  -  15 years ago
    Very welcome. Thanks for providing a place to post it.
    glenn (The Great Bongo)

    Tim P. Ryan:
    Thanks for the great write-up and bio, Bongo.

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