LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Well-known Little Rock television personality Gary Weir has died.
Oaklawn Park confirmed his death on Thursday afternoon. He was 75.
Weir had most recently been a horse racing handicapper with his business Gary Weir Racing.
Weir portrayed “Bozo the Clown” on Arkansas television for 25 years, starting in 1966 and brought the character to KARK, Channel 4, for a few years in the 1980s. He also appeared in recent years on KARK 4 Today for The Oaklawn Report.
Obituary from Smith – North Little Rock Funeral Home:
Gary W. Weir, 75, of North Little Rock died peacefully in his home on Wednesday, October 4, 2017, after a long illness. Since 1966 Gary was known to thousands in Arkansas as “Bozo the Clown.” The son of Tommy L. and Eva Jane Weir, Gary was born in Russellville, Arkansas in 1941. He attended Russellville schools, but graduated from Benton High School in 1959, and went on to attend Arkansas State Teachers College in Conway.
His first job as disc jockey “John Scott” was at radio station KXLR. In 1964, at age 23, he was hired as a station announcer, weatherman and worked in sales at KATV Channel 7 in Little Rock. In addition to his regular jobs at the TV station, in 1966 he was chosen by then station Manager Bob Doubleday to portray the character, Bozo the Clown; and what started out as a one-year contract turned into a 25 year career.
During his Bozo career, Gary won his way into the hearts of thousands of children all over Arkansas who attended or watched his weekday TV show, “Bozo’s Big Top” which was taped live at Channel 7. Some of Bozo’s more noted sayings were, “Do You Walk to School or Carry Your Lunch?” and “How Smart is Your Mother, 100 or 45?”
During his years as Bozo, Gary received numerous honors and commendations, including “Bozo Day in Arkansas.” He also received proclamations from Governors David Pryor and Bill Clinton, an engraved Bozo handprint on downtown Little Rock’s Walk of Fame, and he was named to the “Arkansas Entertainer’s Hall of Fame” in 2013.
After retiring from Bozo in 1991, Gary took on a new clown identity as “Candy the Clown” for his new show, “Clowntown, USA,” which aired for 13 years in Arkansas and Mississippi.
It was during this time his love of horses led him to create and produce the television horseracing replay show, “The Oaklawn Report,” which aired for 18 years. As a horse enthusiast, Gary was an excellent handicapper, and owned more than 80 thoroughbreds; winning more than 100 horseraces individually or in partnerships. He attended the Kentucky Derby in Louisville for more than 15 consecutive years, and hosted over 350 guests on his infamous Kentucky Derby bus excursions from 2005 to 2012.
In June of 2012, Gary and his wife Linda created and produced “The Good Ole Daze,” a television dance show featuring music for dancers age 50 and over. The “Good Ole Daze” was Gary’s last project before suffering a stroke in 2013.
He was a member of Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock for more than 30 years.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Tommy and Eva Jane Weir, and his brother Randy Weir. He is survived by his wife and partner of 13 years, Linda Gillam Weir; his loving daughters, Amanda “Mandy” (Lloyd) Warford of North Little Rock; Camilla “Cami” Weir of New Orleans, Louisiana; grandsons, Jacob and Ryan Lowther of Sarasota, Florida and Noah Warford of North Little Rock. He is also survived by his step children, Eva McKinney (Shelly), Jackie Murry (Charles) and Derek Gunter and their families; special lifelong friends, Donny Ketcheside, Jimmy Sparks and Paul Richman of Russellville and Mona Kay Ingram of Little Rock.
The family would like to acknowledge the Home Instead staff, Melinda Stackhouse; Dr. James Gardner and nurse Marie Valentine; the staffs of Baptist Memorial and UAMS Hospitals and Premier Rehabilitation Center in North Little Rock. In addition to his family, Gary leaves behind many friends and colleagues. He deeply valued and cherished these relationships through the years. Our prayer is that he’ll be remembered for his love of people and his passion for horseracing and handicapping; but mostly for his sense of humor, his friendliness, generosity, and for 25 years of bringing joy, laughter and inspiration to so many as Arkansas’ “Bozo The Clown.”
Visitation will be held Monday, October 9, 2017 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Smith North Little Rock Funeral Home, 1921 Main Street. Funeral Service will be Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at 10 a.m. at Park Hill Baptist Church, 201 East C Ave., North Little Rock. Burial will follow at 1 p.m. at Rest Haven Memorial Park in Russellville. Arrangements by Smith – North Little Rock Funeral Home.
Watch the video below that was presented at the 2013 Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for Weir, highlighting his career and all the contributions he made to Arkansas and the entertainment industry.