Randy Runyon, son of “Chucko the Clown” and a famed entertainer in his own right, died in Canyon Country on Feb. 20. He was 57.
Runyon battled small cell lung cancer for about a year, according to his wife, Joan Runyon.
“He was sick probably longer than I know, but God was merciful and took him quickly at the end,” she said.
Joan, who was married to Randy Runyon for more than 28 years, also was a longtime partner in Randy’s entertaining act when he performed magic tricks, as “Miss Direction.”
For many, Runyon will be remembered for his everpresent smile and ability to entertain, said Joan Runyon.
“It was in his blood and in his heart,” Runyon said. “That’s what most people remember him as. Someone who liked to entertain and joke around. He just liked to make people happy.”
Runyon’s father, Chuck Runyon, was “Chucko the Clown,” who starred in a famous children’s TV show for years.
Randy was a third-gerneration entertainer, Joan said.
“His grandfather preformed black face in Vaudeville,” she said. “He used to say his father was a clown and his mother was a cow girl.”
Runyon’s father also operated Jungleland USA, before a tragic accident and declining revenues led to its closing in 1969.
The following is courtesy of Joan Runyon, Randy’s wife of more than 28 years.
Randy “Chucko” Runyon was born in the ’Entertainment Business’. As the son of the original “Chucko” the Clown, his love of Clowning was inherited. At just 5 months old he was crowned The King of Clowns’ by his Dad and Go-Go the Clown Prince”.
At 7, he portrayed “Chucko Jr.”, an exact replica of his father, in the Holiywood Santa Claus Lane Parade.
From 1965 to 1965, Randy spent his summers and weekends at Jungleland, in Thousand Oaks, performing his unicycle and whip act billed as “The Wheeler Dealer.”
Jungleland was the Home of the Motion Picture and Television Animal Stars. At one time they provided 90 percent of the Animal Actors for Hollywood.
Jungleland was also the winter quarters for many circus performers from 1928-1969. Randy
was mentored by many famous animal trainers such as Mabel Stark, who was billed as “The First Lady Tiger Trainer.”
Jungleland provided the animals for “Dr. Doolittle,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Born Free,” just to name a few.
When Jungleland went to auction in 1969 Randy’s family moved to Grants Pass, Oregon where he
completed his schooling. ln 1973 he left college to join Circus Vargas as an Advance Clown doing
promotional appearances at Hospitals, Radio, and Television throughout the U.S.
Randy performed as a Rìngmaster, Juggler, Unicyclist, and Drummer with numerous Circuses, Magic and
Variety Shows. He toured the 12 western states for over 7 years. His roadshow experiences are
memorable and exciting. During this time Randy wintered in Grants Pass, Oregon where has also worked as a Gas Station Attendant and Mechanic in the off season.
ln 1980, Randy returned to Los Angeles to portray “Chucko” the Clown, at Home Parties, corporate picnics and Christmas shows.
He was featured on many TV shows and commercials, such as “Arsenio Hall,” Taco Bell and “Weekday Heroes.”
“Weekday Heroes” was a tribute to the kid shows of the ’50s and ’60s, featuring Sheriff John, Engineer Bill and Chucko the Clown.
In 1985 “Chucko” was introduced to a worldwide audience when he appeared on MTV in a music video with the band, RATP. “Lay it Down” was name of the song and the video opened with a traditional kids party.
With the spin of the Merry-Go-Round on the top of Chucko’s hat, the birthday boy’s wish is granted and he becomes a rock star.
ln 1995, Randy retired the Chucko character. As a second-generation clown and a third generation performer, he has lived an unusual life, dedicated to the Love of Clowns.
Randy and his Dad, Chuck Runyon, did their very best to always respect the definition of a ‘Real Clown’, which lives on in the imagination of children of all ages.
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