The talent and whimsical flair of Red Skelton traverses stage, screen, radio, and television. Now add the titles of accomplished painter, author, and composer. To account for every contribution Red made to the world of the Arts is an impossible task. We hope this page gives you a small glimpse into the genius and "many faces" of Red Skelton.
Indiana records show that just one person, Richard Bernard Skelton, was born July 18, 1913, inside the house at 111 West Lyndale Avenue in Vincennes, Indiana. However, most fans of the award-winning comedian, actor, pantomimist, composer, painter, writer and humanitarian beg to differ.
Many believe several others were born in that humble house on the same date, and all earned fame like Skelton. There was country bumpkin Clem Kadiddlehopper, Junior the Mean Widdle Kid, lovable hobo Freddie the Freeloader, and many more.
Red Enters the Spotlight:
Red Skelton entered the spotlight after a chance meeting at the Pantheon Theater in Vincennes, Indiana. As the story goes...
At the age of nine, Red was selling newspapers on the corner of 5th and Main streets in Vincennes, Indiana. A man approached Red and asked "What do they do in this town for excitement?" Red replied kindly, "There's a big New York road show in town tonight, with a comedian -- Ed Wynn." He pointed to Wynn's name on the marquee across the street. "That's what I'm going to do when I get older. I'm going to make people laugh," he added. The man asked if Red was going to see the show that night and Red honestly answered, "No, I don't have that kind of money." The man offered to talk to the manager about getting the young boy in to see the show, but Red insisted that he had to finish selling his last three papers. The man then presented one dollar to cover the rest of the newspapers, which, at the time, sold for three cents each.
Red ran home to tell his mother and gave her the dollar. She gave her son a dime to buy popcorn and for a cab ride home. When Red returned to the Pantheon, his new friend had a balcony seat waiting for him. The show began and Ed Wynn walked out from behind the curtain. "That's my friend down there, he got me my seat!" exclaimed Red. At intermission, Red ran backstage. Wynn asked the boy if he had ever seen an audience and, of course, the answer was no. The comedian held up the little red-haired boy up to the back of the curtain so he could see the audience returning to their seats.
"I fell in love with them then," Red would often reminisce.
During his 84 years, Skelton starred in most entertainment genres -- from traveling medicine shows, showboats, the circus and Vaudeville to radio, television, and motion pictures during his 84 years. He appeared in 36 feature films, had a successful network radio program for 15 years, and starred in the Red Skelton Show, which ran for 20 years and remains the second longest-running entertainment program ever in network TV history.
Red performed for eight U.S. presidents and three Roman Catholic Popes, composed more than 8,000 songs, 64 symphonies, wrote books, and his paintings and drawings remain art collectors' treasures.
His other achievements include Emmy awards for performing, writing and his TV show, two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for radio and television, and elections to the halls of fame for television, radio and clowns.
By all measures, Red Skelton is an American legend.