By Joey Nolfi
March 22, 2018 at 09:26 AM EDT

Frank Avruch, a beloved television fixture throughout the 1960s for his portrayal of children’s character Bozo the Clown, died Tuesday at his Boston home. He was 89.

In a statement to local news station WCVB, Avruch’s family announced that the TV personality died from heart disease. The Associated Press later confirmed the news.

“While it’s hard to say goodbye, we celebrate the legacy of joy and laughter he brought to millions of children around the world as Bozo the Clown on TV and as a UNICEF Ambassador and later as host of Channel 5’s Great Entertainment and Boston’s Man About Town,” the statement reads. “Our dad loved the children of all ages who remembered being on his show and was always grateful for their kind words. We will miss him greatly.”

Before popularizing the Bozo character across several seasons of Bozo’s Circus (later retitled Bozo the Clown) between 1959 and 1970, Avruch began his career on radio after graduating from Boston University. He contributed to WCVB for over 40 years after his stint as Bozo, including reporting as a contributor on the Boston morning program Good Day. His work eventually saw him as an inductee into the National Television Academy’s Gold Circle, according to WCVB.

As an actor, he is further credited with a role in the 1981 made-for-TV movie Summer Solstice, also starring Henry Fonda and Myrna Loy.

“He had a heart of gold,” Avruch’s manager, Stuart Hersh, told the AP after his client’s death. “He brought the Bozo the Clown character to life better than anyone else’s portrayal of Bozo the Clown.”

Avruch is survived by his wife, Betty, two sons, and several grandchildren.

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