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Comedy – Red Skelton – Stand-Up / TV Variety Show – LE’s Stories Special – “America’s Clown Prince Made Us Laugh For 70 Years” – A Tribute To The Comedic Genius Of Red Skelton

Going back almost four years…..when I first started posting the nearly 5700 posts currently available for viewing on our site here at ImaSportsphile…..I had absolutely no knowledge of who or what Red Skelton was….cuz he started developing his life as an entertainer back in the 1920’s…..which was way before my time…..however, over the life of our ImaSportsphile site…..I have learn a great deal about the man who is affectionately known as “America’s Clown Prince”…..for this was a man of many various talents in acting, painting, comedy, pantomime, being a clown, etc…..but the greatest of all of those talents was his ability to make people laugh…..which enabled him to become beloved by millions….as well as becoming the most popular personality (athlete, actor, comedian, musician, sportscaster, etc) to grace the pages of our myriad of posts…..as our Red Skelton videos have surpassed 4 million views here at ImaSportsphile….which outdistances the # 2 most viewed personality by over 2 million views…..so the success of our webpage is directly connected to the popularity of this special man’s talents.  As you will see in this post…..Red Skelton was truly special…..and his untainted approach to “clean home-spun humor” is a relevant and funny today as it was 60 years ago…..for the man was a true comedic genius….and we are more than delighted to tell his story. 


Comedy – 1981 – Red Skelton Live In Concert – Stand Up Routine – With Two Highway Patrolmen & Two Texans & Frogs


Red Skelton (July 18, 1913 – September 17, 1997) was an American entertainer best known for his national radio and television shows between 1937 and 1971…..and especially as the host of the television program The Red Skelton Show…..who has stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in radio and television…..while he also appeared in burlesque, vaudeville, films, nightclubs and casinos…..all of which while he pursued an entirely separate career as an artist.



Comedy & Entertainment – 1923 – 1993 – Special – “Gracefully Yours” – A Tribute To Red Skelton – With His Agent Tom Kalyn


Skelton began developing his comedic and pantomime skills from the age of 10…..when he became part of a traveling medicine show….then he spent time on a showboat…..plus he worked the burlesque circuit…..and then entered into vaudeville in 1934.  The “Doughnut Dunkers” pantomime sketch…which  he wrote together with his 1st wife, Edna, launched a career for him in vaudeville, radio and films.  His radio career began in 1937 with a guest appearance on The Fleischmann’s Yeast Hour….which led to his becoming the host of Avalon Time in 1938…..then he became the host of The Raleigh Cigarette Program in 1941…..which was where many of his comedy characters were created….as he had a regularly scheduled radio program until 1957.  Skelton made his film debut in 1938 alongside Ginger Rogers and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in Alfred Santell’s Having Wonderful Time….and then would appear in numerous musical and comedy films throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s….while having starring roles in 19 films….which included Ship Ahoy in 1941….I Dood It in 1943….Ziegfeld Follies in 1946….and The Clown in 1953.



Comedy & Entertainment – 2011 – Red Skelton Special With Guest John Wayne – Featuring Skit With Movie Fan Walking By John Wayne


Skelton was eager to work in television, even when the medium was in its infancy…..so, The Red Skelton Show made its television premiere on September 30, 1951, on NBC….when by 1954, Skelton’s program moved to CBS….where it was expanded to one hour….and renamed The Red Skelton Hour in 1962.  Despite high ratings, the show was canceled by CBS in 1970…. as the network believed that more youth-oriented programs were needed to attract younger viewers and their spending power.  Skelton moved his program back to NBC…..where he completed his last year with a regularly scheduled television show in 1971.  He spent his time after that making as many as 125 personal appearances a year as a comedian…..and working on his paintings.



Comedy – 1954 – The Red Skelton Show – Red On “How To Imitate A Drunk”                 


Skelton’s artwork of clowns remained a hobby until 1964…. when his 2nd wife, Georgia, persuaded him to show it at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas…. while he was performing there…..when sales of his originals, prints and lithographs were successful…..while earning an average of $2.5 million annually for years.  At the time of his death, his art dealer said he thought that Skelton had earned more money through his paintings than from his television performances.



Comedy – 1959 – The Red Skelton Show – Saloon Scene Skit With Edie Adams Impersonating Brigitte Bardot + Jane Mansfield



Skelton believed that his life’s work was to make people laugh….as he wanted to be known as a clown because he defined it as being able to do everything…..when he had a 70-year-long career as a performer…..while  entertaining three generations of Americans.  His widow donated many of his personal and professional effects to Vincennes University….which included prints of his artwork…..as they are part of the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy at Vincennes, Indiana.



Comedy – 1951 – The Red Skelton Show – With Red As Clem Kadiddlehopper + Willie Lump-Lump + San Fernando Red


According to some sources, Skelton was born Richard Red Skelton on July 18, 1913, in Vincennes, Indiana…..however, in a 1983 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Skelton claimed his middle name was really “Red”….and that he had made up the middle name Bernard from the name of a local store, Bernard Clothiers, to satisfy a schoolteacher who would not believe his middle name was “Red”.  Skelton was the 4th and youngest son of Joseph Elmer and Ida Mae Skelton.  Joseph Skelton, a grocer, died two months before Richard was born….as he had once been a clown with the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus.  During Skelton’s lifetime there was some dispute about the year of his birth…..as author Wesley Hyatt suggests that since he began working at such an early age, Skelton may have claimed he was older than he actually was in order to gain employment. Vincennes neighbors described the Skelton family as being extremely poor…. as a childhood friend remembered that her parents broke up a youthful romance between her sister and Red because they thought he had no future.



Comedy – 1968 – The Ed Sullivan Show – With Red Skelton Stand Up Routine


Because of the loss of his father, Skelton went to work as early as the age of seven, selling newspapers and doing other odd jobs to help his family….who had lost the family store and their home…..so, he quickly learned the  newsboy’s patter…..and would keep it up until a prospective buyer bought a copy of the paper just to quiet him.  According to later accounts, Skelton’s early interest in becoming an entertainer stemmed from an incident that took place in Vincennes around 1923….when a stranger, supposedly the comedian Ed Wynn, approached Skelton, who was the newsboy selling papers outside a Vincennes theater…..as the man asked Skelton what events were going on in town….and young Skelton suggested he see the new show in town…..then the man purchased every paper Skelton had….which provided enough money for the boy to purchase a ticket for himself.  The stranger turned out to be one of the show’s stars….who later took the boy backstage to introduce him to the other performers…..as this experience prompted Skelton, who had already shown comedic tendencies, to pursue a career as a performer.



Comedy – 1952 & 1989 – Pantomime Special – “Young And Old Red Skelton Watching A Parade”                                                                                                       


Skelton discovered at an early age that he could make people laugh…..so, he  dropped out of school around 1926 or 1927….when he was 13 or 14 years old …..but he already had some experience performing in minstrel shows in Vincennes….and on a showboat, The Cotton Blossom, that plied the Ohio  and Missouri rivers…..as he enjoyed his work on the riverboat….while moving on only after he realized that showboat entertainment was coming to an end.  Skelton, who was interested in all forms of acting, took a dramatic role with the John Lawrence stock theater company….but was unable to deliver his lines in a serious manner…..as the audience laughed instead.  In another incident, while performing in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Skelton was on an unseen treadmill that malfunctioned and began working in reverse….so, the frightened young actor called out, “Help! I’m backing into heaven!”….when he was fired before completing a week’s work in the role.  At the age of 15, Skelton did some early work on the burlesque circuit…..and then spent four months with the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus in 1929….when he was 16 years old.



Comedy – 1967 – The Red Skelton Hour Skit – With Eva Gabor + Freddie The Freeloader In “Looking For Hobos”                                                                                     


Red’s mother, Ida Skelton, who held multiple jobs to support her family after the death of her husband….did not suggest that her youngest son had run away from home to become an entertainer….but rather said “his destiny had caught up with him at an early age”…..as she let him go with her blessing…as Times were tough during the Great Depression….and it may have meant one less child for her to feed.  Around 1929, while Skelton was still a teen, he joined “Doc” R.E. Lewis’s traveling medicine show as an errand boy who sold bottles of medicine to the audience….when during one show he accidentally fell from the stage….while breaking several bottles of medicine as he fell….to which people laughed…..so, both Lewis and Skelton realized one could earn a living with this ability….and the fall was worked into the show.  He also told jokes and sang in the medicine show during his four years there…..when  Skelton earned ten dollars a week….and sent all of it home to his mother….. when she worried that he was keeping nothing for his own needs….as Skelton reassured her saying “We get plenty to eat, and we sleep in the wagon.”



Comedy – 1952 – The Red Skelton Show Monologue – “While Down In Texas”                                                                                                                                    


As burlesque comedy material became progressively more ribald, Skelton moved on…..when he insisted that he was no prude…..but rather, “I just didn’t think the lines were funny”.  He became a sought-after master of ceremonies for dance marathons (known as “walkathons” at the time)…. which was a popular fad in the 1930’s…..when the winner of one of the marathons was Edna Stillwell….who was an usher at the old Pantages Theater.  She approached Skelton after winning the contest and told him that she did not like his jokes….when he asked if she could do better…..so when they got married in 1931 in Kansas City…..that is when Edna began writing his material.  At the time of their marriage Skelton was one month away from his 18th birthday and Edna was 16.  When they learned that Skelton’s salary was to be cut, Edna went to see the boss….of which Red resented the interference until she came away with not only a raise…..but additional considerations as well.  Since he had left school at an early age, his wife bought textbooks and taught him what he had missed. With Edna’s help, Skelton received a high school equivalency degree.



Comedy & Talk Show – The Dini Petty Show – With Guest Red Skelton – In “The Best Interview Ever Recorded”                                                                             


The couple put together an act and began booking it at small midwestern theaters…..when an offer came for an engagement in Harwich Port, Massachusetts, some 2,000 miles from Kansas City, they were pleased to get it because of its proximity to their ultimate goal, the vaudeville houses of New York City.  To get to Massachusetts they bought a used car and borrowed five dollars from Edna’s mother…..but by the time they arrived in St. Louis they had only fifty cents…..when Red asked Edna to collect empty cigarette packs…..as she thought he was joking, but did as he asked…..then they spent their fifty cents on bars of soap….which they cut into small cubes and wrapped with the tinfoil from the cigarette packs…..then by selling their products for fifty cents each as fog remover for eyeglasses, the Skeltons were able to afford a hotel room every night as they worked their way to Harwich Port…..when Red and Edna worked for a year in Camden, New Jersey…..and were able to get a gig at Montreal’s Lido Club in 1934 through a friend….who managed the chorus lines at New York’s Roxy Theatre…..and despite an initial rocky start, the act was a success….which brought them more theater dates throughout Canada…..as Skelton’s performances in Canada led to new opportunities…..and the inspiration for a new, innovative routine that brought him recognition in the years to come.  While they were performing in Montreal, the Skeltons met Harry Anger….who was a vaudeville producer for New York City’s Loew’s State Theatre…..when Anger promised the pair a booking as a headlining act at Loew’s….but they would need to come up with new material for the engagement.  While the Skeltons were having breakfast in a Montreal diner, Edna had an idea for a new routine as she and Skelton observed the other patrons eating doughnuts and drinking coffee.  They devised the “Doughnut Dunkers” routine, with Red’s visual impressions of how different people ate doughnuts…..and the skit won them the Loew’s State engagement and a handsome fee.



Comedy – 1951 To 1960 – The Red Skelton Show – “Hilarious Clips”                             


The couple viewed the Loew’s State engagement in 1937 as Skelton’s big chance…..so, they hired New York comedy writers to prepare material for the engagement….while believing they needed more sophisticated jokes and skits than the routines Skelton normally performed…..however, his New York audience did not laugh or applaud until Skelton abandoned the newly written material and began performing the “Doughnut Dunkers” and his older routines…..when the doughnut-dunking routine also helped Skelton rise to celebrity status.  In 1937, while he was entertaining at the Capitol Theater in Washington, D.C., President Franklin D. Roosevelt invited Skelton to perform at a White House luncheon.  During one of the official toasts, Skelton grabbed Roosevelt’s glass, saying, “Careful what you drink, Mr. President. I got rolled in a place like this once.”….as his humor appealed to FDR and Skelton became the master of ceremonies for Roosevelt’s official birthday celebration for many years afterward. 



Comedy & Movie – 1938 – Clip From Movie “Having A Wonderful Time” – Red Skelton On ‘Dunking Donuts”                                                                                  


Skelton’s first contact with Hollywood came in the form of a failed 1932 screen test.  In 1938 he made his film debut for RKO Pictures in the supporting role of a camp counselor in Having Wonderful Time…..then he appeared in two short subjects for Vitaphone in 1939….Seeing Red and The Broadway Buckaroo.  Actor Mickey Rooney contacted Skelton, urging him to try for work in films after seeing him perform his “Doughnut Dunkers” act at President Roosevelt’s 1940 birthday party…..when for his Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer screen test, Skelton performed many of his more popular skits….such as “Guzzler’s Gin”…..but added some impromptu pantomimes as the cameras were rolling with “Imitation of Movie Heroes Dying”…..which were Skelton’s impressions of the cinema deaths of stars like George Raft, Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney.



 Comedy – 1952 – The Red Skelton Show – Red’s “Guzzler’s Gin” Routine


Skelton appeared in numerous films for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer throughout the 1940’s…..when in 1940 he provided comic relief as a lieutenant in Frank Borzage’s war drama Flight Command…..which was opposite Robert Taylor, Ruth Hussey and Walter Pidgeon…..then in 1941 he also provided comic relief in Harold S. Bucquet’s Dr. Kildare medical dramas…..Dr. Kildare’s Wedding Day and The People vs. Dr. Kildare.  Skelton was soon starring in comedy features as inept radio detective “The Fox”…..with the 1st of which was Whistling in the Dark in 1941….in which he began working with director S. Sylvan Simon….who would become his favorite director…..then he reprised the same role opposite Ann Rutherford in Simon’s other pictures…..which  included Whistling in Dixie in 1942 and Whistling in Brooklyn in 1943.  Also in 1941, Skelton began appearing in musical comedies while starring opposite Eleanor Powell, Ann Sothern and Robert Young in Norman Z. McLeod’s Lady Be Good.   In 1942 Skelton again starred opposite Eleanor Powell in Edward Buzzell’s Ship Ahoy….then alongside Ann Sothern in McLeod’s Panama Hattie.



Movie Trailer – 1942 – “Whistling In Dixie – Starring Red Skelton + Anne Rutherford



Movie Trailer – 1943 – “Whistling In Brooklyn” – Starring Red Skelton + Anne Rutherford



Movie Clip – 1943 – Eleanor Powell & Red Skelton From “I Dood It” – “The Night Club Scene”                                                                                                                 


In 1943, after a memorable role as a nightclub hatcheck attendant who becomes King Louis XV of France in a dream opposite Lucille Ball and Gene Kelly in Roy Del Ruth’s Du Barry Was a Lady….the Skelton starred as Joseph Rivington Reynolds, a hotel valet besotted with Broadway starlet Constance Shaw (Powell) in Vincente Minnelli’s romantic musical comedy, I Dood It….as  the film was largely a remake of Buster Keaton’s Spite Marriage….when Keaton had become a comedy consultant to MGM after his film career had diminished….and he began coaching Skelton on set during the filming. Keaton worked in this capacity on several of Skelton’s films….when his 1926 film The General was also later rewritten to become Skelton’s A Southern Yankee in 1948 under directors S. Sylvan Simon and Edward Sedgwick. Keaton was convinced enough of Skelton’s comedic talent that he approached MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer with a request to create a small company within MGM for himself and Skelton….where the two could work on film projects…..as Keaton offered to forgo his salary if the films made by the company were not box office hits….but Mayer chose to decline the request.  In 1944, Skelton starred opposite Esther Williams in George Sidney’s musical comedy Bathing Beauty…..while playing a songwriter with romantic difficulties.  He next had a relatively minor role as a “TV announcer who, in the course of demonstrating a brand of gin, progresses from mild inebriation through messy drunkenness to full-blown stupor” in the “When Television Comes” segment of Ziegfeld Follies…..which featured William Powell and Judy Garland in the main roles…..then in 1946, Skelton played boastful clerk J. Aubrey Piper opposite Marilyn Maxwell and Marjorie Main in Harry Beaumont’s comedy picture The Show-Off.



Movie Clip -1944 – Red Skelton In “Ziegfeld Follies – Clip Of “When Television Comes” For The Clumsy Broadcast Network



Movie Trailer – 1943 – “Du Barry Was A Lady” – Starring Lucille Ball + Gene Kelly + Red Skelton + The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra



Movie Trailer – 1942 – For Movie “Ships Ahoy” – With Eleanor Powell + Red Skelton + Bert Lahr + The Tommy Dorsey & The Sentimental Gentleman



Skelton’s contract called for MGM’s approval prior to his radio shows and other appearances…..so, when he renegotiated his long-term contract with MGM, he wanted a clause that permitted him to remain working in radio and to be able to work on television….which was then largely experimental.  At the time, the major work in the medium was centered in New York….as Skelton had worked there for some time…..and was able to determine that he would find success with his physical comedy through the medium.  By 1947, Skelton’s work interests were focused not on films….but rather on radio and television…..albeit his MGM contract was rigid enough to require the studio’s written consent for his weekly radio shows…..as well as any benefit or similar appearances he made…..whereas, radio offered fewer restrictions, more creative control and a higher salary…..so, Skelton asked for a release from MGM after learning he could not raise the $750,000 needed to buy out the remainder of his contract…..while he also voiced frustration with the film scripts he was offered while on the set of The Fuller Brush Man…. when he said “Movies are not my field. Radio and television are.”…. but he did not receive the desired television clause nor a release from his MGM contract.  In 1948, columnist Sheilah Graham printed that Skelton’s wishes were to make only one film a year, spending the rest of the time traveling the U.S. with his radio show.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  


Comedy – 1969 – Red Skelton Show Skit With John Wayne – “Waiting For An Hombre That Wants To Kill Me”                                                                                     


Skelton’s ability to successfully ad-lib often meant that the way the script was written was not always the way it was recorded on film….as some directors were delighted with the creativity….but others were often frustrated by it.  S. Sylvan Simon, who became a close friend, allowed Skelton free rein when directing him.  MGM became annoyed with Simon during the filming of The Fuller Brush Man….as the studio contended that Skelton should have been playing romantic leads instead of performing slapstick…..so, that is when Simon and MGM parted company….so, he was not asked to direct retakes of Skelton’s A Southern Yankee….as Simon asked that his name be removed from the film’s credits.                                                                                                                                                                                    


Movie Trailer – 1948 – For Movie “The Southern Yankee” – Starring Red Skelton + Arlene Dahl



Movies – 1940 To 1947 – Special – List Of Red Skelton’s Top 35 Movies


Skelton was willing to negotiate with MGM to extend the agreement provided he would receive the right to pursue television….and this time the studio was willing to grant it….thus making Skelton the only major MGM personality with that privilege…..as the 1950 negotiations allowed him to begin working in television beginning September 30, 1951….so, during the last portion of his contract with the studio, Skelton was working in radio and on television in addition to films….when he would go on to appear in films such as Jack Donohue’s The Yellow Cab Man in 1950….Roy Rowland and Buster Keaton’s Excuse My Dust in 1951….Charles Walters’ Texas Carnival in 1951….Mervyn LeRoy’s Lovely to Look At in 1952….Robert Z. Leonard’s The Clown in 1953…. The Great Diamond Robbery in 1954….and Norman Z. McLeod’s poorly received Public Pigeon No. 1 1957….as this was his last major film role….which originated incidentally from an episode of the television anthology series Climax!.  In a 1956 interview, he said he would never work simultaneously in all three media again.  As a result, Skelton would make only a couple of minor appearances in films after this….which included playing a saloon drunk in Around the World in Eighty Days in 1956….a fictional version of himself as a gambler in Ocean’s 11 in 1960…..and a Neanderthal man in Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines in 1965.



Comedy – 1951 – Red Skelton Show Skit With Frank Lovejoy – “Freddie Freeloader And The Bank Robbers”



Movie Trailer – 1953 – From The Movie “The Clown” – Starring Red Skelton

Movie Trailer – 1956 – From “Around The World In 80 Days” – Starring David Niven + Shirley MacLane + Red Skelton


Performing the “Doughnut Dunkers” routine led to Skelton’s 1st appearance on Rudy Vallée’s The Fleischmann’s Yeast Hour on August 12, 1937….as Vallée’s program had a talent show segment…..and those who were searching for stardom were eager to be heard on it.  Vallée also booked veteran comic and fellow Indiana native Joe Cook to appear as a guest with Skelton….as 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….as  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.



Comedy – 1952 – The Red Skelton Show – Risque Martha Raye Cracks Up Red Skelton On Set


On October 1, 1938, Skelton replaced Ed Foley as the host of Avalon Time on NBC….as Edna also joined the show’s cast under her maiden name…. when she developed a system for working with the show’s writers….while selecting material from them ….and adding her own and filing the unused bits and lines for future use….when the Skeltons worked on Avalon Time until late 1939.  Skelton’s work in films led to a new regular radio show offer ….when between films, he promoted himself and MGM by appearing without charge at Los Angeles area banquets…..as a radio advertising agent was a guest at one of his banquet performances and recommended Skelton to sone of his clients….and that is when Skelton went on the air with his own radio show, The Raleigh Cigarette Program, on October 7, 1941….as the bandleader for the show was Ozzie Nelson with his wife, Harriet….who worked under her maiden name of Hilliard….and was the show’s vocalist…. while also working with Skelton in skits…..when Skelton introduced the first two of his many characters during The Raleigh Cigarette Program’s first season….with the character of Clem Kadiddlehopper….who was based on a Vincennes neighbor named Carl Hopper that  was hard of hearing.  After the cartoon character Bullwinkle was introduced, Skelton contemplated filing a lawsuit against Bill Scott…..who voiced the cartoon moose, because he found it similar to his voice pattern for Clem.  The 2nd character he introduce on his radio show was The Mean Widdle Kid, or “Junior”, was a young boy full of mischief…. who typically did things he was told not to do….as “Junior” would say things like, “If I dood it, I gets a whipping.”…. which was followed moments later by the statement, “I dood it!”….for Skelton performed the character at home with Edna, giving him the nickname “Junior” long before it was heard by a radio audience….and while the phrase was Skelton’s, the idea of using the character on the radio show was Edna’s.  As a matter of fact, Skelton starred in a 1943 movie of the same name, but did not play “Junior” in the film.



Comedy – 1965 – The Red Skelton Show – With Walter Brennan Skit – “Deadeye And His Deputy Face-Off Against The Moody Brothers”                              


The phrase was such a part of national culture at the time that, when General Doolittle conducted the bombing of Tokyo in 1942, many newspapers used the phrase “Doolittle Dood It” as a headline…. and after a talk with President Roosevelt in 1943, Skelton used his radio show to collect funds for a Douglas A-20 Havoc to be given to the Soviet Army to help fight World War II….when while asking children to send in their spare change, he raised enough money for the aircraft in two weeks….and  he named the bomber “We Dood It!”   In 1986 the Soviet newspaper Pravda offered praise to Skelton for his 1943 gift….and in 1993, the pilot of the plane was able to meet Skelton and thank him for the bomber.



 Comedy – 1963 – Red Skelton Hour Pantomime Special With Jerry Lewis – “The Magician & His Assistant”                                                                                       


Skelton also added a routine he had been performing since 1928…..which was originally called “Mellow Cigars”…..as the skit entailed an announcer who became ill as he smoked his sponsor’s product…..when the makers of the cigarettes, Brown and Williamson, asked Skelton to change some aspects of the skit….when he renamed the routine “Guzzler’s Gin” after the announcer became inebriated while sampling and touting the imaginary sponsor’s wares.  While the traditional radio program called for its cast to do an audience warm-up in preparation for the broadcast, Skelton did just the opposite….so, after the regular radio program had ended, the show’s audience were treated to a post-program performance…..and he would then perform his “Guzzler’s Gin” or any of more than 350 routines for those who had come to the radio show.  He updated and revised his post-show routines as diligently as those for his radio program….and as a result, studio audience tickets for Skelton’s radio show were in high demand….for there were times where up to 300 people had to be turned away for lack of seats.



Comedy – 1954 – Red Skelton Show Pantomime – “Man In Movie Theater Eating Ice Cream”                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


In 1942, Edna announced that she was leaving Skelton….but would continue to manage his career and write material for him….but he didn’t realize she was serious until Edna issued a statement about the impending divorce through NBC….so, they were divorced in 1943….whle leaving the courtroom arm in arm.  The couple did not discuss the reasons for their divorce and Edna initially prepared to work as a script writer for other radio programs….and when the divorce was finalized, she went to New York….while leaving Red with three fully prepared show scripts…..when Skelton and those associated with him sent telegrams and called her….while asking her to come back to him in a professional capacity.  Edna remained the manager of the couple’s funds because Skelton spent money too easily. An attempt at managing his own checking account that began with a $5,000 balance, ended five days later after a call to Edna saying the account was overdrawn. Skelton had a weekly allowance of $75….with Edna making investments for him, choosing real estate and other relatively stable assets….as she remained an advisor on his career until 1952….while receiving a generous weekly salary for life for her efforts.  The divorce meant that Skelton had lost his married man’s deferment….and he was once again classified as 1-A for military service….so he was drafted into the army in early 1944….as both MGM and his radio sponsor tried to obtain a deferment for the comedian, but to no avail…..therefore, his last Raleigh radio show was on June 6, 1944, the day before he was formally inducted as a private….and he was not assigned to Special Services at that time….so, without its star, the program was discontinued….and the opportunity presented itself for the Nelsons to begin a radio show of their own, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.



Comedy & Game Show – 1960 – “What’s My Line” With Mystery Guest Red Skelton


By 1944, Skelton was engaged to actress Muriel Morris….who was also known as Muriel Chase….when the couple had obtained a marriage license….and told the press they intended to marry within a few days….but at the last minute, the actress decided not to marry him….while initially saying she intended to marry a wealthy businessman in Mexico City…..but she later recanted the story about marrying the businessman ….while continuing to say that her relationship with Skelton was over….as the actress further denied that the reason for the breakup was Edna’s continuing to manage her ex-husband’s career…. albeit Edna stated that she had no intention of either getting in the middle of the relationship or reconciling with her former husband.  He was on army furlough for throat discomfort when he married actress Georgia Maureen Davis in Beverly Hills, California, on March 9, 1945….as the couple had met on the MGM lot.  Skelton traveled to Los Angeles from the eastern army base where he was assigned for the wedding ….for he knew he would possibly be assigned overseas soon….and wanted the marriage to take place first.  After the wedding, he entered the hospital to have his tonsils removed….and was shortly thereafter assigned to the Special Services….where he performed as many as ten to twelve shows per day before troops in both the United States and in Europe.  The pressure of his workload caused him to suffer exhaustion and a nervous breakdown …..after which he developed a stutter….then while recovering at an army hospital at Camp Pickett, Virginia, he met a soldier who had been severely wounded and was not expected to survive…..so, Red devoted a lot of time and effort to trying to make the man laugh. As a result of this effort, his stutter reduced….and his army friend’s condition also improved and he was no longer on the critical list.  He was released from his army duties in September 1945.  “I’ve been told I’m the only celebrity who entered the Army as a private and came out a private,” he told reporters.  His sponsor was eager to have him back on the air, and Skelton’s program began anew on NBC on December 4, 1945.



Comedy – 1982 – Red Skelton Live In Canada – Part 1



Comedy – 1982 – Red Skelton Live In Canada – Part 2


Upon returning to radio, Skelton brought with him many new characters that were added to his repertoire….which included Bolivar Shagnasty, described as a “loudmouthed braggart…..  Cauliflower McPugg, a boxer….Deadeye, a cowboy ….Willie Lump-Lump, a fellow who drank too much….and San Fernando Red, a conman with political aspirations.  By 1947, Skelton’s musical conductor was David Rose….who would go on to television with him….as he had worked with Rose during his time in the army….and wanted Rose to join him on the radio show when it went back on the air.


Comedy – 1952 – Red Skelton Show Skits – With Boxer Cauliflower McPugg Playing Baseball + Willie Lump Lump The Drunk In “Willie Comes Home”           


Comedy – 1952 – Red Skelton Show Skit – “Cauliflower McPugg The Baby Sitter”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               


Comedy – 1961 – Red Skelton Show Skits – Featuring San Fernando Red In “Clean Politics”



Comedy – 1952 – Red Skelton Show Skit – “Bolivar Shagnasty’s Beauty Salon”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              


On April 22, 1947, Skelton was censored by NBC two minutes into his radio show…..when he and his announcer Rod O’Connor began talking about Fred Allen being censored the previous week….as they were silenced for 15 seconds….for comedian Bob Hope was given the same treatment once he began referring to the censoring of Allen.  Skelton forged on with his lines for his studio audience’s benefit…. as the material he insisted on using had been edited from the script by the network before the broadcast…..plus, he had been briefly censored the previous month for the use of the word “diaper”. After the April incidents, NBC indicated it would no longer pull the plug for similar reasons.



Comedy – 1964 – Red Skelton Show – Featuring Red As George Appleby With “Bonanza” Star Dan Blocker


Skelton changed sponsors in 1948 as Brown & Williamson, owners of Raleigh cigarettes, withdrew due to program production costs….so his new sponsor was Procter & Gamble’s Tide laundry detergent.  The next year he changed networks, going from NBC to CBS….where his radio show aired until May 1953….then after his network radio contract was over, he signed a three-year contract with Ziv Radio for a syndicated radio program in 1954…..as his syndicated radio program was offered as a daily show….which included segments of his older network radio programs….as well as new material done for the syndication…..whereas, he was able to use portions of his older radio shows because he owned the rights for rebroadcasting them.



Comedy – 1979 – Tribute To Frank Sinatra Special – Featuring Red Skelton Pantomime Of “Lady Driving A Car”                                                                               


Skelton was unable to work in television until the end of his 1951 MGM movie contract…..as a renegotiation to extend the pact provided permission after that point.  On May 4, 1951, he signed a contract for television with NBC….with Procter and Gamble as his sponsor….when he said he would be performing the same characters on television that he had been doing on radio…..as the MGM agreement with Skelton for television performances did not allow him to go on the air before September 30, 1951….so, his television debut for The Red Skelton Show, premiered on that date…..when a 1943 instrumental hit by David Rose, called “Holiday for Strings”, became Skelton’s TV theme song.  The move to television allowed him to create two non-human characters, seagulls Gertrude and Heathcliffe….which he performed while the pair were flying by….while  tucking his thumbs under his arms to represent wings and shaping his hat to look like a bird’s bill.  He patterned his meek, henpecked television character of George Appleby after his radio character, J. Newton Numbskull….who had similar characteristics.  His “Freddie the Freeloader” clown was introduced on the program in 1952….with Skelton copying his father’s makeup for the character….as he learned how to duplicate his father’s makeup and perform his routines through his mother’s recollections…..also, a ritual was established for the end of every program, with Skelton’s shy boyish wave and words of, “Good night and may God bless.”….for these were the things that made Red Skelton so beloved by an adoring audience for so many years.



Comedy – 1963 – Red Skelton Hour Skit – With Red As Dr. Ludwig Van Humperdoo With George Gobel


During the 1951–1952 season, the program was broadcast from a converted NBC radio studio….as the 1st year of the television show was done live…. which led to problems because there was not enough time for costume changes….which meant that  Skelton was on camera for most of the half-hour….which included the delivery of a commercial ….as it was written into one of the show’s skits.  In early 1952, Skelton had an idea for a television sketch about someone who had been drinking not knowing which way is up…..then when the script was completed, he had the show’s production crew build a set that was perpendicular to the stage….so it would give the illusion that someone was walking on walls.  The skit, starring his character Willie Lump-Lump, called for the character’s wife to hire a carpenter to re-do the living room in an effort to teach her husband a lesson about his drinking….so, when Willie wakes up there after a night of drinking, he is misled into believing he is not lying on the floor but on the living room wall…. while Willie’s wife goes about the house normally… but to Willie, she appears to be walking on a wall. Within an hour after the broadcast, the NBC switchboard had received 350 calls regarding the show….and Skelton had received more than 2,500 letters about the skit within a week of its airing.



 Comedy – 1951 – The Red Skelton Show – With Red As Willie Lump Lump In “The Burglar”                                                                                                                         


Skelton was delivering an intense performance live each week, and the strain showed in physical illness.  In 1952, he was drinking heavily due to the constant physical pain of a diaphragmatic hernia and the emotional distress of marital problems….as he thought about divorcing Georgia.  NBC agreed to film his shows in the 1952–1953 season at Eagle Lion Studios, next to the Sam Goldwyn Studio, on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood.  Later, the show was moved to the new NBC television studios in Burbank.  Procter & Gamble was unhappy with the filming of the television show…. and insisted that Skelton return to live broadcasts… as the situation made him think about leaving television.  Declining ratings prompted sponsor Procter & Gamble to cancel his show in the spring of 1953….and that is when Skelton announced that any of his future television programs would be variety shows….where he would not have the almost constant burden of performing….then beginning with the 1953–1954 season, he switched to CBS…..where he remained until 1970.  For the initial move to CBS, he had no sponsor…..as the network gambled by covering all expenses for the program on a sustaining basis…..when his 1st CBS sponsor was Geritol.  He curtailed his drinking and his ratings at CBS began to improve….which was  especially so after he began appearing on Tuesday nights for co-sponsors Johnson’s Wax and Pet Milk Company.



 Comedy – 1951 To 1958 – Special – The Best Of The Red Skelton Show


By 1955, Skelton was broadcasting some of his weekly programs in color….which was the case approximately 100 times between 1955 and 1960.  He tried to encourage CBS to do other shows in color at the facility, but CBS mostly avoided color broadcasting after the network’s television-set manufacturing division was discontinued in 1951.  By 1959, Skelton was the only comedian with a weekly variety television show…..while others who remained on the air, such as Danny Thomas, were performing their routines as part of situation comedy programs.  He performed a preview show for a studio audience on Mondays, using their reactions to determine which skits required editing for the Tuesday program…..and for the Tuesday afternoon run-through prior to the actual show, he ignored the script for the most part, ad-libbing through it at will….as the run-through was well attended by CBS Television City employees….and sometimes during live telecasts and taped programs, Skelton would break up or cause his guest stars to laugh. 



Comedy – 1956 – Red Skelton Show Performs O’Henry’s Classic Tale – “The Cop & The Anthem” – With Freddie The Freeloader – Act 1



Comedy – 1956 – Red Skelton Show Performs O’Henry’s Classic Tale – “The Cop & The Anthem” – With Freddie The Freeloader – Act 2



Comedy – 1956 – Red Skelton Show Performs O’Henry’s Classic Tale – “The Cop & The Anthem” – With Freddie The Freeloader – Act 3


Comedy – 1956 – Red Skelton Show Performs O’Henry’s Classic Tale – “The Cop & The Anthem” – With Freddie The Freeloader – Act 4


At the height of Skelton’s popularity, his nine-year-old son Richard was diagnosed with leukemia and was given a year to live….while the network told him to take as much time off as necessary, Skelton felt that unless he went back to his television show he would be unable to be at ease….and make his son’s life a happy one….so, he returned to his television show on January 15, 1957…..with guest star Mickey Rooney helping to lift his spirits.  In happier times, he had frequently mentioned his children on his program…. but he found it extremely difficult to do this after Richard became ill…..as Skelton resumed this practice only after his son asked him to do so.  After his son’s diagnosis, Skelton took his family on an extended trip, so Richard could see as much of the world as possible. The Skeltons had an audience with Pope Pius XII on July 22, 1957…..and according to an International News Service article that appeared in the Aug. 1, 1957 issue of the St.Joseph, Missouri News Press, Richard said that the audience with the Pope was the high point of the trip so far.  The Skeltons cut their travels short and returned to the United States after an encounter with an aggressive reporter in London….with relentlessly negative reports in British newspapers…..and upon returning home, the Skelton family received support from CBS management and from the public following the announcement of Richard’s illness. in November….and that is when Skelton fell downstairs and injured an ankle….plus, he nearly died after a “cardiac-asthma” attack on December 30, 1957…..when he was taken to St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica…..where, his doctors said, “if there were ten steps to death, Red Skelton had taken nine of them by the time he had arrived”….as Skelton later said he was working on some notes for television….and the next thing he remembered, he was in a hospital bed….as he did not know how serious his illness was until he read about it himself in the newspapers.  His illness and recovery kept him off the air for a full month….when Skelton returned to his television show on January 28, 1958…..and then on May 10, 1958, Richard died  ten days before his 10th birthday.  Skelton was scheduled to do his weekly television show on the day his son was buried…..and although there were recordings of some older programs available which the network could have run, he asked that guest performers be used instead…..when his friends in the television, film and the music industries organized The Friends Of Red Skelton Variety Show ….which they performed to replace The Red Skelton Show for that week….and by May 27, 1958, Skelton had returned to his program.  Richard‘s death had a profound effect on the family….as evidenced by Life magazine profiling “The Invincible Red” on April 21, 1961….when they observed that Skelton was still “racked” by his son’s death.  In 1962, the Skelton family moved to Palm Springs, and Skelton used the Bel Air home only on the two days a week when he was in Los Angeles for his television show taping.



Comedy – 1965 – Red Skelton Show Skit – With Boris Karloff + Vincent Price – In “He Who Steals My Robot, Steals Trash”



Movie Clip & Music – 1943 -From “DuBarry Was A Lady” – Red Skelton + Lucille Ball + Gene Kelly Et Al Perform Song + Dance “Friendship”



Music & Comedy – 1963 – The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour – With Lucille Ball + Red Skelton Performing Song n Dance “Poor Everybody Else”                                 


In early 1960, Skelton purchased the old Charlie Chaplin Studios and updated it for videotape recording.  With a recently purchased three-truck mobile color television unit, he recorded a number of his series episodes and specials in color. Even with his color facilities, CBS discontinued color broadcasts on a regular basis and Skelton shortly thereafter sold the studio to CBS and the mobile unit to local station KTLA…..whereas, prior to this, he had been filming at Desilu Productions.  Skelton then moved back to the network’s Television City facilities….where he taped his programs until he left the network.  In the fall of 1962, CBS expanded his program to a full hour, retitling it The Red Skelton Hour.  Although it was a staple of his radio programs, he did not perform his “Junior” character on television until 1962, after extending the length of his program.  Skelton frequently employed the art of pantomime for his characters ….as a segment of his weekly program was called the “Silent Spot.”….for he attributed his liking for pantomime and for using few props to the early days when he did not want to have a lot of luggage…..as he explained that having the right hat was the key to getting into character.



Comedy – 1966 – Red Skelton Hour With Marcel Marceau In A Concert In Pantomime – With “A Woman Driver” + “Marcel Marceau Flies a Kite”“Looking at the New Baby” + “Bip Goes to an Audition” + “The Fisherman and the Little Boy” + “The Prize Fighters” + “Marcel Marceau as the Sculptor” + “The Circus Performer” + “The Astronaut”                                                                 


Skelton’s season premiere for the 1960–1961 television season was a tribute to the United Nations…..when 600 people from the organization, including diplomats, were invited to be part of the audience for the show.  The program was entirely done in pantomime, as UN representatives from 39 nations were in the studio audience.  One of the sketches he performed for the UN was that of the old man watching the parade…..as the sketch had its origins in a question Skelton’s son, Richard, asked his father about what happens when people die…..to which he told his son, “They join a parade and start marching.”  In 1965, Skelton did another show completely in pantomime…..and this time he was joined by Marcel Marceau….as the two artists alternated performances for the hour-long  program….while sharing the stage to perform Pinocchio…..as the only person who spoke during the hour was Maurice Chevalier, who served as the show’s narrator.



Comedy – 1960 – Red Skelton Performs Pantomime At The United Nations – With “A Fool & A Feather” + “A Slow Motion Tennis Game” + “An Old Man Playing Golf” + “A Chef Mixes A Salad” + A Folk Song “Foggy Foggy Dew” + “A Man & His Wife Climb The Eiffel Tower” + “Old Man Watches A Parade”



In 1969, Skelton wrote and performed a monologue about the Pledge of Allegiance.  In the speech, he commented on the meaning of each phrase of the pledge…..as he credited one of his Vincennes grammar school teachers, Mr. Laswell, with the original speech…..when the teacher had grown tired of hearing his students monotonously recite the pledge each morning….as he then demonstrated to them how it should be recited, along with comments about the meaning behind each phrase….after which CBS received 200,000 requests for copies….as the company subsequently released the monologue as a single on Columbia Records.  A year later, he performed the monologue for President Richard Nixon at the first “Evening at the White House”….. which was a series of entertainment events honoring the recently inaugurated president.



Comedy & Entertainment – 1969 – The Red Skelton Comedy Hour – Featuring Red Skelton’s Pledge of Allegiance


As the 1970’s began, the networks began a major campaign to discontinue long-running shows that they considered stale…..while being dominated by older demographics and/or becoming too expensive due to escalating costs…..and despite Skelton’s continued strong overall viewership, CBS saw his show as fitting into this category….and canceled the program along with other comedy and variety shows hosted by veterans such as Jackie Gleason and Ed Sullivan.  Performing in Las Vegas when he got the news of his CBS cancellation, Skelton said, “My heart has been broken.”….as his program had been one of the top ten highest rated shows for 17 of the 20 years he was on television…..then Skelton moved to NBC in 1970 in a half-hour Monday night version of his former show…..with its cancellation after one season ending his television career….and that is when he returned to live performances.  In an effort to prove the networks wrong, he gave many of these at colleges….which proved popular with the audience….for Red Skelton was bitter about CBS’s cancellation for many years afterwards…. while believing the demographic and salary issues to be irrelevant….as he accused CBS of bowing to the anti-establishment, anti-war faction at the height of the Vietnam War….while saying his conservative political and social views caused the network to turn against him.  He had invited prominent Republicans, including Vice President Spiro Agnew and Senate Republican Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, one of the Senate’s strongest supporters of the war, to appear on his program.



 Comedy – 1967 – The Red Skelton Hour – “Hippie Days Are Here Again”



Comedy – 1968 – The Red Skelton Hour – With Guest Tennessee Ernie Ford – “Clem Kadiddlehopper Prepares For Chicken-Plucking Competition With Loser Lumpkin”



Comedy – 1966 – The Red Skelton Hour – With Buddy Ebsen – “Clem Kadiddlehopper Visits His Newly-Rich Old Chum Jed Clampett”                                          


There were personal as well as professional changes in Skelton’s life at this time. He divorced Georgia in 1971 and married Lothian Toland, daughter of cinematographer Gregg Toland, on October 7, 1973.  While he disassociated himself from television soon after his show was canceled, his bitterness had subsided enough for him to appear on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on July 11, 1975….which was his 1st television appearance since the cancellation of his last television program….for Carson was one of his former writers….who began his rise to network television prominence when he substituted for Skelton after a dress rehearsal injury in 1954.  Skelton was also a guest on The Merv Griffin Show in October of the same year.  Any hopes he may have had that he might ease back into television through the talk/show circuit were destroyed on May 10, 1976, when Georgia Skelton committed suicide by gunshot on the 18th anniversary of Richard Skelton’s death.  Georgia was 54 and had been in poor health for some time.  He put all professional activities on hold for some months as he mourned his former wife’s death.


Comedy & Talk Show – 1983 – Tonight Show With Johnny Carson – Guest Red Skelton


Skelton made plans in 1977 to sell the rights to his old television programs as part of a package which would bring him back to regular television appearances. The package called for him to produce one new television show for every three older episodes; this did not materialize.  In 1980, he was taken to court by 13 of his former writers over a report that his will called for the destruction of recordings of all his old television shows upon his death.  Skelton contended his remarks were made at a time when he was very unhappy with the television industry and were taken out of context. He said at the time, “Would you burn the only monument you’ve built in over 20 years?”  As the owner of the television shows, Skelton initially refused to allow them to be syndicated as reruns during his lifetime….then in 1983, Group W announced that it had come to terms with him for the rights to rebroadcast some of his original television programs from 1966 through 1970, while some of his earlier shows were made available after Skelton’s death.



Comedy – 1969 – Red Skelton Hour Skit With Carol Lawrence + Lou Rawls – In “Don’t Look A Wooden Gift Horse In The Mouth” – As Clem Kadiddlehopper ends up in the Trojan Horse


Comedy 1962 – Red Skelton Hour Skit With Ray Bolger – With Freddie The Freeloader In “The Mayor Of Central Park”



Comedy – 1967 – Red Skelton Hour With Bob Crane And John Banner – As Freddie the Freeloader Reunites With Col. Hogan And Sergeant Schultz – In “How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down in The Dump?”                                                           


Skelton’s 70-year career as an entertainer began as a stage performer…..as he retained a fondness for theaters….and referred to them as “palaces”….as he also likened them to his “living room”…..where he would privately entertain guests.  At the end of a performance, he would look at the empty stage where there was now no laughter or applause and tell himself, “Tomorrow I must start again. One hour ago, I was a big man. I was important out there. Now it’s empty. It’s all gone.”



Comedy – 1951 To 1959 – Red Skelton Special – Country Comic – Part 1 – With Fredie The Freeloader + Clem Kididdlehopper – Plus Milton Berle, Fabian, Dinah Shore, Al Capp, Frank McHugh and Ed Sullivan



Comedy – 1951 To 1959 – Red Skelton Special – Country Comic – Part 2 – With Fredie The Freeloader + Clem Kididdlehopper – Plus Milton Berle, Fabian, Dinah Shore, Al Capp, Frank McHugh and Ed Sullivan


Skelton was invited to play a four-week date at the London Palladium in July 1951.  While flying to the engagement, Skelton, Georgia and Father Edward J. Carney, were on a plane from Rome with passengers from an assortment of countries that included 11 children. The plane lost the use of two of its four engines and seemed destined to lose the rest, meaning that the plane would crash over Mont Blanc. The priest readied himself to administer last rites. As he did so, he told Skelton, “You take care of your department, Red, and I’ll take care of mine.” Skelton diverted the attention of the passengers with pantomimes while Father Carney prayed. They ultimately landed at a small airstrip in Lyon, France.  He received both an enthusiastic reception and an invitation to return for the Palladium’s Christmas show of that year.  I seems to me that there is no better story to exemplify the God given talents of Red Skelton than this story….for just as God meant for him to be on this airplane that day….so did He mean for America’s Clown Prince to be on this Earth to simply make people laugh….even in the worst of times.



Music & Comedy – 1964 – Red Skelton Hour With The Rolling Stones Singing  “Tell Me” + “Carol” + “It’s All Over Now”



Comedy – 1964 – Red Skelton Hour With Phyllis Diller – In “Deadeye And Killer Diller”                                                                                                                           


Though Skelton had always done live engagements at Nevada hotels and appearances such as state fairs during his television show’s hiatus, he focused his time and energy on live performances after he was no longer on the air….while performing up to 125 dates a year.  He often arrived days early for his engagement and would serve as his own promotion staff….while making the rounds of the local shopping malls…..where before the show, his audiences received a ballot listing about 100 of his many routines…..and were asked to pick their favorites….as the venue’s ushers would collect the ballots and tally the votes….then Red Skelton’s performance on that given day was based on the skits his audience selected.  After he learned that his performances were popular with the hearing-impaired because of his heavy use of pantomimes ….that is when Skelton hired a sign language interpreter to translate the non-pantomime portions of his act for all his shows….as he continued performing live until 1993….when he celebrated his 80th birthday.  In the video below, Red performs live in London in 1984 at a Royal Command Performance….in which he tells his audience about the 8000 pieces of music that he has written…..which includes 59 symphonies and all of the music that is played during his performance this day….and when a viewer of this videos just listens to the music that is played during his many pantomimes that he performs….then it becomes obvious what a talented composer he was….for his music blends perfectly with each pantomime.  What a talented genius!  In the video below, this performance at The Royal Albert Hall in London, England personifies the incredible gift that Red Skelton was to the world….for he makes you laugh using good old fashioned humor…..with no crass manners, no swearing….and look at the venue…..as it is sold out filled to capacity full of London’s best Lords and Ladies.  Be sure to pay attention to his final monologue in the last minute of his performance….as even at the end of his years as an entertainer he was still looking to serve his audience. This performance was recorded live on Red Skelton’s 70th Birthday on 18 July 1983 and released on the pay cable channel HBO on 22 April 1984….and took place before the Royal Family at London’s Royal Albert Hall.  Simply put, it only takes one Red Skelton to fill the Albert Hall. 



Comedy – 1983 – HBO Special – Red Skelton Live At The Royal Albert Hall In London For A Royal Command Performance


In 1974, Skelton’s interest in film work was rekindled with the news that Neil Simon’s comedy The Sunshine Boys would become a movie; his last significant film appearance had been in Public Pigeon No. 1 in 1956. He screen tested for the role of Willy Clark with Jack Benny, who had been cast as Al Lewis.  Although Simon had planned to cast Jack Albertson, who played Willy on Broadway, in the same role for the film, Skelton’s screen test impressed him enough to change his mind.  Skelton declined the part, however, reportedly due to an inadequate financial offer, and Benny’s final illness forced him to withdraw as well. George Burns and Walter Matthau ultimately starred in the film. 



Comedy – 1981 – HBO Special – Red Skelton In “Freddie the Freeloader’s Christmas Dinner”                                                                                                                     


In 1981, Skelton made several specials for HBO including Freddie the Freeloader’s Christmas Dinner in 1981….along wih the Funny Faces series of specials.  He gave a Royal Command Performance for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in 1984…..which was later shown in the U.S. on HBO.  A portion of one of his last interviews, conducted by Steven F. Zambo, was broadcast as part of the 2005 PBS special The Pioneers of Primetime.                                                                                                                                                                                    


 Comedy – 1982 – HBO Special – Red Skelton’s “Funny Faces 1”                                       



Comedy – 1983 – HBO Special – Red Skelton’s “Funny Faces 2”                                                                                                                                                                                                                              


Comedy – 1984 – HBO Special – Red Skelton’s “Funny Faces 3”                                       


Skelton died on September 17, 1997, at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California, at the age of 84, after what was described as “a long, undisclosed illness”.  He is interred in the Skelton Family Tomb, the family’s private room, alongside his son, Richard Freeman Skelton Jr. and his second wife, Georgia Maureen Davis Skelton, in The Great Mausoleum’s Sanctuary of Benediction at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in  Glendale, California.  Skelton was survived by his widow, Lothian Toland Skelton; his daughter, Valentina Marie Skelton Alonso and granddaughter Sabrina Maureen Alonso.



News & Comedy – 1997 – KTNV Las Vegas + CNN Headline News Specials – “The Passing Of Comedy Icon Red Skelton”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                


News & Comedy – 1997 – Black Star News Special – Tribute To Red Skelton Following His Death


Skelton began producing artwork in 1943, but kept his works private for many years. He said he was inspired to try his hand at painting after visiting a large Chicago department store that had various paintings on display.  Inquiring as to the price of one which Skelton described as “a bunch of blotches”, he was told, “Ten thousand wouldn’t buy that one.” He told the clerk he was one of the ten thousand who would not buy the painting, instead buying his own art materials.  His wife Georgia, a former art student, persuaded him to have his first public showing of his work in 1964 at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas…..where he was performing at the time…..for Skelton believed painting was an asset to his comedy work as it helped him to better visualize the imaginary props used in his pantomime routines.  In addition to his originals, Skelton also sold reproductions and prints through his own mail order business.  He made his work available to art galleries by selling them franchises to display and sell his paintings.  He once estimated the sale of his lithographs earned him $2.5 million per year.  Shortly after his death, his art dealer said he believed that Skelton made more money on his paintings than from his television work.  At the time of his death, Skelton had produced over 1,000 oil paintings of clowns….and when asked why his artwork focused on clowns, he said at first, “I don’t know why it’s always clowns.”….the he continued after thinking a moment by saying “No, that’s not true—I do know why. I just don’t feel like thinking about it …”  At the time of Skelton’s death, his originals were priced at $80,000 and upward.



Comedy – 1958 – Red Skelton Show Presents – “Clem The Artist”



Artwork & Comedy – 1923 To 1997 – Special – A Slideshow Of Red Skelton’s Paintings


Skelton was a prolific writer of both short stories and music.  After sleeping only four or five hours a night, he would wake up at 5 a.m. and begin writing stories, composing music, and painting pictures.  He wrote at least one short story a week and had composed over 8,000 songs and symphonies by the time of his death.  He wrote commercials for Skoal tobacco and sold many of his compositions to Muzak, a company that specialized in providing background music to stores and other businesses.  Skelton was also interested in photography….to which when attending Hollywood parties, he would take photos and give the film to newspaper reporters waiting outside. He was never without a miniature camera and kept a photographic record of all his paintings.  Skelton was also an avid gardener who created his own Japanese and Italian gardens….and cultivated bonsai trees at his home in Palm Springs, California…..plus. he owned a 600-acre (240 ha) horse ranch in the Anza Valley.



Comedy – 1959 – Red Skelton Show With Edward Everett Horton – As Freddie The Freeloader’s Nosy Hobo Buddy In “Freddie And The Spies”



Comedy – 1971 – Red Skelton Hour Skit With Jill St. John – In “The Day After The Bachelor’s Party” + Professor Humperdoo’s Little Prescription



Comedy – 1970 – Red Skelton Hour Skit With Michael Landon + Billy Banty – In “San Fernando Red Meets The Yacht Owner”                                                                 


In 1952, Skelton received Emmy Awards for Best Comedy Program and Best Comedian….plus he also received an Emmy nomination in 1957 for his non-comedic performance in Playhouse 90’s  presentation of “The Big Slide” Skelton and his writers won another Emmy in 1961 for Outstanding Writing Achievement In Comedy He was named an honorary faculty member of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College in 1968 and 1969.  Skelton’s first major post-television recognition came in 1978…..when the Golden Globe Awards named him as the recipient for their Cecil B. DeMille Award….which is given to honor outstanding contributions in entertainment.  His excitement was so great upon receiving the award and a standing ovation, that he clutched it tightly enough to break the statuette.  When he was presented with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Governor’s Award in 1986, Skelton received a standing ovation. “I want to thank you for sitting down”, he said when the ovation subsided. “I thought you were pulling a CBS and walking out on me.”  The honor came 16 years after his television program left the airwaves.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   


Comedy & Awards Show – 1986 – The Emmy Awards Show – As Lucille Ball Presents Red Skelton “The Governors Award For Lifetime Achievement”                   


Skelton received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild in 1987…..and in 1988, he was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Television Hall of Fame. He was one of the International Clown Hall of Fame’s first inductees in 1989.  Skelton and Katharine Hepburn were honored with lifetime achievement awards by the American Comedy Awards in the same year.  He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1994.  Skelton also has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his radio and television work.



Comedy & TV Awards -1986 – Red Skelton Inducted In The Television Academy Hall of Fame



Comedy & Art – 1995 – Special – Red Skelton’s 82nd Birthday Celebration At The Addi Art Gallery In Las Vegas


Comedy – 1923 To 1993 – Special – “The Legacy Continues At The Red Skelton Museum Of American Comedy”

Skelton preferred to be described as a clown rather than a comic….while saying “A comedian goes out and hits people right on. A clown uses pathos. He can be funny, then turn right around and reach people and touch them with what life is like.”  “I just want to be known as a clown” he said, “because to me that’s the height of my profession. It means you can do everything—sing, dance and above all, make people laugh.”  His purpose in life, he believed, was to make people laugh.



Comedy – 1961 – Red Skelton Show Skit With Harvey Korman – In “Appleby’s Office Party”



Comedy – 1951 To 1959 – Special – Red Skelton Hilarious Clips – Part 1



Comedy – 1951 To 1959 – Special – Red Skelton Hilarious Clips – Part 2


Comedy – 1971 – The Red Skelton Show Final Season – On Of Red’s Last Television Monologues – On “Diets & Dieting”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

In Groucho and Me, Groucho Marx called Skelton “the most unacclaimed clown in show business”, and “the logical successor to [Charlie] Chaplin”….. which is largely because of his ability to play a multitude of characters with minimal use of dialogue and props. “With one prop, a soft battered hat”, Groucho wrote, describing a performance he had witnessed, “he successfully converted himself into an idiot boy, a peevish old lady, a teetering-tottering drunk, an overstuffed clubwoman, a tramp, and any other character that seemed to suit his fancy. No grotesque make-up, no funny clothes, just Red.”  He added that Skelton also “plays a dramatic scene about as effectively as any of the dramatic actors.”   In late 1965 ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, reminiscing about the entertainment business, singled out Skelton for high praise. “It’s all so very different today. The whole business of comedy has changed — from 15 minutes of quality to quantity. We had a lot of very funny people around, from Charley Chase to Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy. The last one of that breed is Red Skelton.”  Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures  also praised Skelton, saying, “He’s a clown in the old tradition. He doesn’t need punch lines. He’s got heart.”  All of the points made by the famous folks above about Red Skelton “comes out in spades” in this wonderfully indepth interview with America’s Clown Prince prior to his performance at Clemson University in 1981….for the comedic genius imparts so much wisdom in this 3-part interview…..as he passes on so many “life lessons” to the student interviewers.  It is obviously evident that the then 68 year old Skelton totally related to the college age crowd.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   


Comedy & Interview – 1981 – Special – Interview With Red Skelton At Clemson University – Part 1



Comedy & Interview – 1981 – Special – Interview With Red Skelton At Clemson University – Part 2



Comedy & Interview – 1981 – Special – Interview With Red Skelton At Clemson University – Part 3


Skelton and Marcel Marceau shared a long friendship and admiration of each other’s work. Marceau appeared on Skelton’s CBS television show three times…..which included one time as the host in 1961….as Skelton recovered from surgery…. and he was also a guest on the three Funny Faces specials that Skelton produced for HBO.  In a TV Guide interview after Skelton’s death, Marceau said, “Red, you are eternal for me and the millions of people you made laugh and cry. May God bless you forever, my great and precious companion. I will never forget that silent world we created together.”  CBS issued the following statement upon his death….“Red’s audience had no age limits. He was the consummate family entertainer—a winsome clown, a storyteller without peer, a superb mime, a singer and a dancer.” 



Comedy & Pantomime – 1987 – Red Skelton & Marcel Marceau – “The Lion Tamer” “A Piece Of Bacon Frying On A Hot Grill”



Comedy – 1966 – Red Skelton’s Concert In Pantomime With Marcel Marceau “A Woman Driver” + “Flying a Kite” + “Looking at the New Baby” + “Bip Goes to an Audition” + “The Fisherman and the Little Boy” + “The Prize Fighters” + “The Sculptor” + “The Circus Performer” + “The Astronaut” +”The Miracles of the Dolls”                                                                                                                                                                                                

Comedy – 1959 – Red Skelton Show With Marcel Marceau – In ‘The Mask Maker”                                                                                                                                     


The Red Skelton Performing Arts Center was dedicated in February 2006 on the campus of Vincennes University, one block from the home in Vincennes where Skelton was born.  The building includes an 850-seat theater, classrooms, rehearsal rooms, and dressing rooms. Its grand foyer is a gallery for Skelton’s paintings, statues, and film posters.  The theater hosts theatrical and musical productions by Vincennes University, as well as special events, convocations and conventions.  The adjacent Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy opened on July 18, 2013, on what would have been Skelton’s 100th birthday.  It houses his personal and professional materials….which he had collected since the age of ten, in accordance with his wishes that they be made available in his hometown for the public’s enjoyment. Skelton’s widow, Lothian, noted that he expressed no interest in any sort of Hollywood memorial.  The museum is funded jointly by the Red Skelton Museum Foundation and the Indiana Historical Society.  Other Foundation projects include a fund that provides new clothes to Vincennes children from low-income families.  The Foundation also purchased Skelton’s birthplace. On July 15, 2017, the state of Indiana unveiled a state historic marker at the home in Vincennes where Skelton was born.  The town of Vincennes has held an annual Red Skelton Festival since 2005. A “Parade of a Thousand Clowns”, billed as the largest clown parade in the Midwest, is followed by family-oriented activities and live music performances.   In the video below, an interview by Steven Addi of Addi Art Galer with Red Skelton that took place just two month prior to America’s Clown Prince passing…. and if you take the time to listen to what this incredible man has to say at this point in his life….for there is a lifetime of lessons to be learned from this one simple interview.  Just listen to the positive outlook and genuine love and appreciation that this comedic genius has for his wife, his art, his daily approach to life, his ability to deal with “the hands that life deals each day”, his appreciation for others like Mr. Addi….and you can get a glimpse of why Red Skelton was so special…while being all the way to the end, a wonderfully kind and gentle soul….who simply wanted to make people laugh and bring joy to their souls.



Comedy & Art & Interview – 1997 – Stephen Addi Interviews Comedian And Artist Red Skelton – 2 Months Before His Passing


In concluding this story about America’s Clown Prince….it has become vividly apparent to me that the era from which Red Skelton came in the course of American history…..is without question the Golden Age of Entertainers….cuz all the folks that fall into this vast category were so extremely multi-talented….who could act, write, sing, dance, paint, make people laugh….and of course, be a clown….all of which was solely for the entertainment of people everywhere….and Red Skelton was at the top of the immense ladder of talent that came out of that era.  These were folks who didn’t have to demean anyone in their presentations….who didn’t have to use curse words …..or spew sex and violence in order to make their audiences respond….for this was a rare time of simple joy in honest humor which was fostered and born in “everyday life experiences”….as this was a time for clowns, and Red Skelton was the gold standard for them all.  As evidenced by the videos posted in this story….America’s Clown Prince left a 70 year legacy of proof of his vast talents and enormous love and kindness to people….as we here at ImaSportsphile are truly blessed by the legacy of Red Skelton.  I will end this story of a truly great man, comedian and entertainer with a video tribute to Red Skelton’s incredible life….for this particular tribute to America’s Clown Prince was produced by LandumC Goes There….as it takes a look into the life and career of RED SKELTON….and the event that took him to the darkest point in his life…..from which he rebounded to continue his 70 year career of making people laugh.



Comedy & Awards Shows – 1993 – Special – Red Skelton’s Induction Into The Comedy Hall Of Fame



Comedy & Entertainment – 1923 To 1993 – LandumC Goes There Special – “The Life And Career Of Red Skelton”




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