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Friday, July 22, 2011

Bob Trendler: The maestro who brought music to ‘Bozo’s Circus’
Posted in Chicago Media blog by Robert Feder on Jul 21, 2011
Chicago baby boomers have lost another symbol of their youth to that big top in the sky.

Bob Trendler, the cheerful bandleader of Bozo’s Circus whose career spanned 40 years on WGN-Channel 9 and WGN-AM (720), died this week in Palmetto, Florida. He was 99.
To generations of viewers, Trendler’s name will always be synonymous with the 13-piece Big Top Band he directed on the venerable children’s show from 1961 until his retirement in 1975. Despite a 10-year waiting list for tickets at one time, Tribune Co. gradually downgraded the most popular and successful locally produced children’s program in television history before finally canceling it in 2001.
In a tribute to “Mr. Bob” on his Svengoolie blog Wednesday, fellow Chicago television icon Rich Koz wrote: “When the Bozo show took off, he and his band would play the theme music, the music in and out of every segment, the accompaniment for all the circus and entertainment acts that appeared, as well as songs for skits that Bozo and his pals did. . . . And so we lose another link to those fantastic nostalgic days of the old school Bozo show.”

The son of a Viennese prima donna, Trendler was an accomplished pianist who began his career in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. He joined WGN as an arranger and conductor in 1935 during the heyday of live music on radio, and was named musical director of the WGN Orchestra in 1956.

Al Hall, longtime producer and director of Bozo’s Circus, recalled why Trendler was the “obvious choice” to become the show’s bandleader in The Golden Age of Chicago Children’s Television. “The station had Bob under union contract and they had to pay him whether they used him or not,” Hall told author Ted Okuda. “So when they came up with Bozo’s Circus they decided to use him for that. Oh, his band was great! And Bob himself was a good addition to the show; he played the part of the maestro very well.”

Trendler’s name surfaced earlier this year when an electric organ used on Bozo’s Circus was acquired at auction and donated to the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Although the organ was never part of Trendler’s official studio band, its discovery set off a wave of nostalgia for the show and its music.
Funeral services will be held Thursday in Bradenton, Florida. Trendler is survived by two sons, David and Robert Jr., six grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren.


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