Red Skelton

Born Jul 18, 1913

Richard Bernard "Red" Skelton was an American entertainer best known for being a national radio and television comedian between 1937 and 1971. Skelton, who has stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, began his show business career in his teens as a circus clown and continued on vaudeville and Broadway and in films, radio, TV, night clubs, and casinos, all while he pursued an entirely separate career as an artist.… Read More

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1913 Birth Born on July 18, 1913, in Vincennes, Indiana, Richard Skelton was the fourth and youngest son of Ida Mae (née Fields) and Joseph Elmer Skelton. … Read More
1923 9 Years Old 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. … Read More


1926 12 Years Old Skelton discovered at an early age that he could make people laugh. Skelton 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. … Read More
1929 15 Years Old 1 More Event
At the age of 15, Skelton did some early work on the burlesque circuit, and reportedly spent four months with the Heganbeck-Wallace Circus in 1929, when he was 16 years old. … Read More
1931 17 Years Old They married in 1931 in Kansas City, and Edna began writing his material. … Read More


1934 - 1939 6 More Events
1940 26 Years Old 1 More Event
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. … Read More
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. … Read More
Skelton starred in a 1943 movie of the same name, but did not play "Junior" in the film. … Read More


In 1944, Skelton starred opposite Esther Williams in George Sidney's musical comedy Bathing Beauty, playing a songwriter with romantic difficulties. … Read More
He was on army furlough for throat discomfort when he married actress Georgia Maureen Davis in Beverly Hills, California, on March 9, 1945; the couple met on the MGM lot. … Read More
1947 33 Years Old 1 More Event
By 1947, Skelton's musical conductor was David Rose, who would go on to television with him; 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.
1948 34 Years Old Skelton changed sponsors in 1948; Brown & Williamson, owners of Raleigh cigarettes, withdrew due to program production costs. … Read More
Skelton was unable to work in television until the end of his 1951 MGM movie contract; a renegotiation to extend the pact provided permission after that point.
His "Freddie the Freeloader" clown was introduced on the program in 1952, with Skelton copying his father's makeup for the character. … Read More
1953 39 Years Old 1 More Event
Declining ratings prompted sponsor Procter & Gamble to cancel his show in the spring of 1953, with Skelton announcing that any future television shows of his would be variety shows, where he would not have the almost constant burden of performing.


1955 41 Years Old By 1955, Skelton was broadcasting some of his weekly programs in color, which was the case approximately 100 times between 1955 and 1960. … Read More
1957 43 Years Old 1 More Event
…  He returned to his television show on January 15, 1957, with guest star Mickey Rooney helping to lift his spirits. … Read More
1958 44 Years Old 1 More Event
His illness and recovery kept him off the air for a full month; Skelton returned to his television show on January 28, 1958. … Read More
1960 - 1961 2 More Events
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.


1965 51 Years Old In 1965, Skelton did another show in complete pantomime. … Read More
1969 55 Years Old In 1969, Skelton performed a self-written monologue about the Pledge of Allegiance. … Read More
1970 56 Years Old Skelton moved to NBC in 1970 in a half-hour Monday night version of his former show. … Read More
1971 57 Years Old There were personal as well as professional changes taking place 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.


1975 - 1984 6 More Events
1986 73 Years Old 1 More Event
…  In 1986, Skelton received an honorary degree from Ball State University. … Read More
1987 - 1993 3 More Events
1994 81 Years Old He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1994. … Read More
1997 84 Years Old 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". … Read More
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