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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Organ said to be from Bozo show, authenticity questioned


Ameet Sachdev, Chicago Tribune

April 20, 2011
A prominent Chicago auction house is advertising the sale of a piece of Chicago television history: an electric organ used on Bozo's Circus. But its marketing materials are not entirely accurate, according to people familiar with the once-popular show.
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers plans to sell a Hammond electric organ with speakers on May 2. The company says the organ was part of the 13-piece "Big Top Band" that played on Bozo's Circus from the debut of the show on WGN-TV in 1961 until 1975.
But Al Hall, the longtime former producer of the show, said the band never had an organ.
"The 13-piece band was brass and piano," Hall said. "It never used an organ."His recollection was confirmed by George Pappas, who works for WGN and is known as the station's unofficial Bozo's Circus historian. WGN and the Chicago Tribune are both owned by Tribune Co.
However, when the band took a day off, an organ was used to provide music. Hall, after seeing a photo, confirmed that the organ for sale is the one that was used occasionally on the show.
Unknown to Hall, was that Roy Cone, one of WGN's sound engineers at the time, purchased the organ in 1975 and had it shipped to his house.
"My mom liked to play the piano so he bought her an organ," said Greg Cone, one of Roy's children.
Greg Cone remembers taking organ lessons. He said his dad retired from WGN in 1989 after 46 years at the station and died in 1996.
The family decided to sell the organ because his mom eventually wants to sell her house, Greg Cone said.
"I'm the one who's attached to it, but I don't have room in my house," he said.
Cone provided Leslie Hindman with a copy of the canceled check his dad used to buy the organ from WGN. It had been stored in the organ's bench.
Corbin Horn, an account executive at Leslie Hindman, said the organ is a unique piece of Chicago's history. It is worth between $1,000 and $2,000, he said, and bidding will likely start at $500.
When asked about the error in the marketing brochure, Horn said he may have been mistaken about some of the details. He said the marketing brochure was based on research done by the company and information provided by the seller.

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