Dorri Partain

Kansas City’s favorite clown not only appeared on television, but his famous face was used to advertise local products and businesses as well.

Whizzo the Clown, as performed by former circus member Frank Wizarde (1916-1987) , headlined a weekday program beginning in 1954 on KMBC Channel 9. The after school show was filled with Whizzo’s clowning, interspersed with cartoons that always began when he spun his striped umbrella.

In addition to the television program, Whizzo made live appearances at local shopping malls and the City Market, any place that could draw a crowd of kids and families. In later years, Whizzo performed at Worlds of Fun on the Forum Amphitheater stage and at the Kansas City Zoo, where his familiar costume brought back memories to those who grew up watching his show.

This tab top button, where the tab was folded over to attach to a pocket or inserted in a buttonhole, features a drawing of Whizzo in a promotion for Holsum brand bread and could be the inspiration for the saying, “You deserve a Whizzo button!”

Holsum bread is one of the first national brands that began in 1908 when W.E. Long of Chicago licensed the name and set up a chain of bakeries to provide fresh baked loaves across the country. In Kansas City, Holsum was baked fresh twice daily, according to a billboard photographed in 1922 by Smith’s Steam Bakery. Located at 18th & Cherry, the commercial bakery was started by B. Howard Smith in the late 1880’s and was one of several local bakeries once located in town.

General Baking of New York purchased the bakery location in 1926 and continued to produce Holsum beard, along with competing brand Bond bread until the location was closed in 1958. Through a succession of owners, Holsum bread is now owned by Flowers Foods.

Whizzo’s persona also appeared on a decorated drinking glass that reads “Drink Sealtest Milk” and a metal bank from the Home Savings Association.