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Comedy & Mime – Red Skelton Stand Up & Shields And Yarnell As The Kinkers At Breakfast


Performing the “Doughnut Dunkers” routine led to Red Skelton’s first appearance on Rudy Vallée’s The Fleischmann’s Yeast Hour on August 12, 1937. Vallée’s program had a talent show segment….and those who were searching for stardom were eager to be heard on it….plus Vallée also booked veteran comic and fellow Indiana native Joe Cook to appear as a guest with Skelton. The two Hoosiers proceeded to trade jokes about their home towns….with Skelton contending to Cook….an Evansville native….that the city was a suburb of Vincennes. The show received enough fan mail after the performance to invite both comedians back two weeks after Skelton’s initial appearance and again in November of that year.

On October 1, 1938, Skelton replaced Red Foley as the host of Avalon Time on NBC….with his wife Edna also joining the show’s cast….under her maiden name….as she developed a system for working with the show’s writers….selecting material from them, adding her own and filing the unused bits and lines for future use….as the Skeltons worked on Avalon Time until late 1939.  Skelton’s work in films led to a new regular radio show offer….so, between films, he promoted himself and MGM by appearing without charge at Los Angeles area banquets. A radio advertising agent was a guest at one of his banquet performances and recommended Skelton to one of his clients.

Skelton went on the air with his own radio show, The Raleigh Cigarette Program, on October 7, 1941. The bandleader for the show was Ozzie Nelson and his wife, Harriet…..who worked under her maiden name of Hilliard….was the show’s vocalist and also worked with Skelton in skits. Red introduced the first two of his many characters during The Raleigh Cigarette Program’s first season. The character of Clem Kadiddlehopper was based on a Vincennes neighbor named Carl Hopper….who was hard of hearing.  Skelton’s voice pattern for Clem was similar to the later cartoon character, Bullwinkle….there was actually enough similarity to cause Skelton to contemplate filing a lawsuit against Bill Scott, who voiced the cartoon moose.  The second character, The Mean Widdle Kid or Junior….was a young boy full of mischief….who typically did things he was told not to do. Junior would say things like, “If I dood it, I gets a whipping.”….followed moments later by the statement, “I dood it!”  Skelton performed the character at home with Edna…..giving him the nickname Junior long before it was heard by a radio audience.  While the phrase was Skelton’s, the idea of using the character on the radio show was Edna’s.  Skelton starred in a 1943 movie of the same name…..but did not play Junior in the film.

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