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Red Skelton was one of the most well-known faces in the world of ‘comedy.’ For his emotionally-intense comedic acts, he became known as ‘The Sentimental Clown’ and ‘America’s Clown Prince’ during the course of his long and humorous career. He began his career as a stand-up comedian for troubadour or burlesque acts, and he quickly earned a significant following. His career began to take off as he received more radio and television appearances, and he finally began to feature in films. Skelton, the son of a circus clown, went on to become one of America’s most popular comedians, and he owed it all to his family, whom he claimed would have prevented him from succumbing to the’showbiz bug.’ He went on the road as a full-time entertainer, performing in everything from medical shows and cabaret performances to circuses and grandstands. He is known by his peers and fans for noteworthy portrayals such as ‘Clem Kaddiddlehopper’ and ‘George Appleby.’ His professional life was fruitful, but his personal life was not. He became more of a social hermit after two divorces and a personal loss, which harmed his career. In addition, he was a patron of several children’s charities.

Childhood and Adolescence

Richard Bernard ‘Red’ Skelton was born in Vincennes, Indiana, on July 18, 1913, to circus clown Joseph E. Skelton and housekeeper Ida Mae. He began working as a newspaper boy at the age of seven when his father died young.
In 1923, serendipity intervened when comedian Ed Wynn purchased all of Skelton’s papers and promised to take him backstage for a concert in town. During this time, he realized he wanted to pursue a career in show business.
He dropped out of school and went on to work on showboats and on the local vaudeville scene as an accomplished performer.

Career of Red Skelton

He and his wife began putting together the famed ‘Doughnut Dunkers’ performances after they married, which won them fame and earned them a lot of concerts around Canada. He had his first Hollywood connection when he failed a film test in 1932. He made his cinematic debut five years later in the film ‘Having Wonderful Time,’ playing a camp counselor.

On August 12, 1937, he made his first radio appearance on ‘The Rudy Vallee Show.’ He became so well-known that he was asked back on the show for two more parts. The following year, he took over as host of NBC’s ‘Avalon Time’ from Red Foley.

He made his television debut in 1941, presenting his own show, ‘The Raleigh Cigarettes Program,’ on which he presented his first character, ‘Clem Kaddiddlehopper.’ He appeared in the films ‘Ship Ahoy,’ ‘Maisie Gets Her Man,’ ‘Panama Hattie,’ and ‘Whistling in Dixie’ the following year.

He starred in a series of comedies from 1943 through 1946, including ‘I Dood It,’ ‘Whistling in Brooklyn,’ ‘Bathing Beauty,’ and ‘The Show-Off.’ In addition, he provided the voice for the short film ‘Radio Bugs.’ He also began creating paintings around this period, although he kept it a secret.

He appeared in the 1947 film adaption of ‘Merton of the Movies.’ In the same year, he appeared in two short films, ‘Weekend in Hollywood’ and ‘The Luckiest Guy in the World,’ for which he provided the voice. He secured a contract with NBC after his contract with MGM expired in 1951. He remarked that he intended to portray the same characters on television as he did on radio. With his depiction as the clown in ‘Freddie the Freeloader’ the following year, he became highly well-known.

In 1953–54, he moved to the CBS network, where he stayed for over two decades. He also appeared in the films ‘The Clown,’ ‘Half a Hero,’ ‘The Great Diamond Robbery,’ and ‘Susan Slept Here’ during this period. By 1959, he had established himself as the sole comic with a weekly television show.

In 1962, he was granted a full hour on CBS, dubbed “The Red Skelton Hour,” which had consistently high TRPs on both NBC and CBS. ‘Red Skelton’s Favorite Ghost Stories’ was published three years later. He delivered a self-written soliloquy regarding the “Pledge of Allegiance” in 1969. He never returned to television the following year when one of his NBC series was canceled. With live performances, he continued to enchant audiences.

He played the narrator and ‘Baby Bear’ in the stop-motion animated film ‘Rudolph’s Shiny New Year’ in 1976. He did an HBO special called ‘Freddie the Freeloader’s Christmas Dinner’ in 1981, and he appeared at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds three years later. The works ‘The Ventriloquist’ and ‘Old Whitey’ were released the same year.
Red Skelton revealed at the end of his life that his daily regimen consisted of writing a short tale every day. He kept himself occupied by performing in nightclubs, casinos, and other famous locations such as Carnegie Hall.

Major Works of Red Skelton

‘The Red Skelton Hour,’ which debuted on television in 1951, went on to become one of the most popular programmes on both the NBC and CBS networks. On the program, he recreated some of his most famous characters, such as ‘George Appleby’ and ‘Clem Kaddiddlehopper,’ which helped the show become a smash with viewers. Since its start over two decades ago, the popular program has earned the greatest TRPs.

Achievements & Awards

He earned an Emmy for ‘Outstanding Writing-Comedy Series’ in 1961. It was one of several Emmy Awards he has received. In 1987, he was honored by the Screen Actors Guild with a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award.’ In 1989, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored him into the ‘Television Hall of Fame.’

Personal History and Legacy

He married Edna Stillwell, his first wife, in 1931. In 1943, they divorced. He married Georgia Davis in 1945, and the couple had two children, Richard and Valentina. Richard, on the other hand, died of leukemia when he was a small kid, leaving Skelton distraught. In 1971, the couple divorced.

In 1973, he married Lothian Toland. Until his death, the pair lived together. He was not just a comedian, but he also composed background music, which he sold to companies like ‘Muzak.’ Painting and photography were two of his other passions. He was a horse lover who raised quarter horses on his property.

He died of pneumonia on September 17, 1997, and is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. In 2006, the ‘Red Skelton Performing Arts Center’ was named after him. The ancient Pantheon Theater in Vincennes was christened for Red Skelton the next year.

Estimated Net Worth

Red Skelton had a net worth of $30 million and was an American comedian. Red Skelton was born in July 1913 in Vincennes, Indiana, and died in September 1997. From 1937 through 1971, he was well-known for his national radio and television appearances. In addition to hosting the Red Skelton Show, he participated in cinema, vaudeville, and other forms of entertainment.


This well-known American comedian and pantomimist was famed for his ‘Doughnut Dunkers’ performance, in which he consumed over 45 doughnuts every day. Owing to his part, he gained around 35 pounds and had to postpone the routine due to his increasing weight and obesity difficulties.