MUSIC IS: Everybody Loves A Clown

Everybody Love's a Clown

Richard ~ Red ~ Skelton
Richard ~ Red ~ Skelton one of the World's most Famous Clown's.

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U.S. Comedian

It was not until 1986, a full fifteen years after his weekly television show had ended, that "one of America's clowns"received his overdue critical praise. Only then did the critics realize what the public had long known. Regardless of his passion for corny gags and slapstick comedy, Red Skelton was a gifted comedian. He is one of the few performers to succeed in four entertainment genres--vaudeville, radio, film, and television. To honor his lifetime achievements, Red received the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Governor's Emmy Award in 1986 and, with it, the critical praise he deserved.

Born 18 July 1913 as Richard Red Skelton, his youth was characterized by poverty and a fascination for vaudeville. It was the influence of vaudeville great Ed Wynn that led Skelton to perfect his own comedy routines. The basics of Red's vaudeville act consisted of pantomimes, pratfalls, funny voices, crossed eyes, and numerous sight gags that would serve to identify Skelton throughout his entertainment career. It was also during this period that Red began developing various comedy characters.

His radio show, which ran from 1941 to 1953, provided the opportunity to present his comedy to a mass audience. The limitations of the sound medium also made it necessary for him to further develop the characters he would later bring to television--Freddie the Freeloader; Clem Kadiddlehopper, the country bumpkin; Willy Lump Lump, the drunk; Cauliflower McPugg, the boxer; The Mean Widdle Kid; San Fernando Red, the con man. In conjunction with his radio show, Skelton also enjoyed film success, most notably in Whistling in the Dark (1941), The Fuller Brush Man (1948), A Southern Yankee (1948), and The Yellow Cab Man (1950). Regardless of his vaudeville, radio, and film success, it would be television that would bring him his greatest fame and endear him to his largest audience.

The Red Skelton Show began in 1951 on NBC as a comedy-variety show. Red co-produced this initial show, which was a half-hour program on Sunday evenings. In its first year, the show finished fourth in the ratings and received the Emmy Award for Best Comedy Show. Unlike other radio comedians Skelton's comedy act entailed more than his voice, and television provided the opportunity to fully display the showmanship talents he had begun in vaudeville. In 1953, the show moved to CBS on Tuesday nights and received a second Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy in 1961, and expanded to an hour long the following year. In 1964, the show made the Nielsen Top Twenty, where it stayed until its end in 1970.

The show consisted of Red's opening monologue, performances by guest stars, and comedy sketches which included his various characters. Perhaps the most unique part of the show (and for all of television) was "The Silent Spot," a mime sketch that often featured his character Freddie the Freeloader. The only regulars on the show were Skelton and the David Rose Orchestra. The Red Skelton Show set the precedent for future comedy-variety shows, such as The Carol Burnett Show.

According to CBS, the show's 1970 cancellation was due to rising production costs and the network's desire to appeal to more upscale advertisers (the show finished seventh in its final season). The following year, Red returned to NBC with a half-hour comedy variety show which included a cast of regulars. The show's premiere featured then Vice-President Spiro Agnew. This time, unfortunately, the uneven comedy failed to match Red's previous success. Its cancellation marked the end of Red Skelton's television career, a run of 21 straight years which also included guest appearances on other television series and involvement with thirteen television specials. The only television performer with a longer stay was Ed Sullivan (24 years as host of The Ed Sullivan Show). Following his departure from television, Skelton maintained a low profile and performed at resorts, clubs, and casinos. In the early 1980s a series of superb performances at Carnegie Hall received critical praise and briefly thrust him back into the public spotlight. The new found interest resulted in three comedy specials for Home Box Office (HBO).

Since his TV show was seldom rerun and is not syndicated, it is easy to forget his popularity. Based on longevity and audience size, The Red Skelton Show was the second most popular show in TV history (Gunsmoke is first). As Groucho Marx once said, Red Skelton is "the most unacclaimed clown in show business." Marx noted that by using only a soft, battered hat as a prop, Red could entertain with a dozen characters.

1951 - 1953; "The Red Skelton Show," NBC.
1953 - 1962; "The Red Skelton Show," CBS.
1962 - 1970; "The Red Skelton Hour," CBS.
1970 - 1971; "Red," NBC.
1981; "Freddy the Freeloader's Christmas Dinner," HBO.

1954; The Red Skelton Revue
1959; The Red Skelton Chevy Special
1960; The Red Skelton Timex Special
1966; Clown Alley (host, producer)
1982; Red Skelton's Christmas Dinner
1983; Red Skelton's Funny Faces
1984; Red Skelton: A Royal Performance

1938; Having Wonderful Time
1939; Seein' Red
1939; Broadway Buckaroo
1940; Flight Command
1941; Lady Be Good
1941; The People vs. Dr. Kildare
1941; Dr. Kildare's Wedding Day
1941; Whistling in the Dark
1942; Whistling in Dixie
1942; Ship Ahoy
1942; Maisie Gets Her Man
1942; Panama Hattie
1943; DuBarry Was a Lady
1943; Thousands Cheer
1943; I Dood It
1943; Whistling in Brooklyn
1944; Bathing Beauty
1944; Ziegfeld Follies
1944; Radio Bugs (voice only)
1946; The Show-Off
1947; Merton of the Movies
1948; The Fuller Brush Man
1948; Southern Yankee
1949; Neptune's Daughter
1950; Yellow Cab Man
1950; Three Little Words
1950; The Fuller Brush Girl
1950; Duchess of Idaho
1951; Watch the Birdie
1951; Excuse My Dust
1951; Texas Carnival
1952; Lovely to Look At
1952; The Clown
1953; Half a Hero
1953; The Great Diamond Robbery
1954; Susan Slept Here
1956; Around the World in 80 Days
1957; Public Pigeon No. 1
1960; Ocean's Eleven
1965; Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines

Click below to see some of the Red Skelton Painting's:

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