Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Red Skelton story from Barbara (Phillips) Siembida



Barbara gave me permission to post her letter.

Dear Mrs. Red Skelton,

I was so happy to have recently come across the July 19th, 2017 Fox News posting of The Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy.

As I write this letter to you, I feel as if I am that old woman who told the story of the Titanic. A tragic beginning but with a happy ending.

Long ago, December 3rd, 1961, within minutes from our home in Boardman, Ohio, my family’s plane had crashed on the Ohio Turnpike. I was the sole survivor at the age of 5 who received gifts as far as South America but there is only one cherished ever since.

Red Skelton of whom I adored as a child, took time to mail me a photo of himself and wrote, “To Barbara, Best Wishes, Red Skelton”. Those six hand-written words have meant more to me than gold! Even the empty frame I found in my families attic decades ago was meant-to-be. For over half-a-century now, I have held his personal gift close to my heart and thought of sharing my story with you.

Your husband, Red Skelton, the man who touched many, was truly blessed! In spite of life’s challenges he had given me the will to continue on with courage, God’s love & laughter. He also inspired me to become a young performing ventriloquist of which I still have fun with when teaching piano with my finger puppets (Legato & Staccato). My true love however was and always will be composing music.

A few days ago as I was searching for articles of my past from what is now known as The Vindicator (Youngstown, Ohio) . . . next to Red Skelton’s photo were lyrics to a piano arrangement I had written in the mid 1990’s, “The Magic of Love”. A song, I believe(d), was meant for Disney only to then be told they did not accept music outside their industry. I never found that love yet the meaning still lives within and after reading your story perhaps it’s time to try again.

Sometime after 1984, Red Skelton had appeared in one of the theaters here in Columbus, Ohio of where I have since called home. I remember feeling like a little girl once again, sitting straight up in her seat, anxiously awaiting to grasp whatever memory I could hold on to thereafter. All I remember though was what always meant the most . . . as he stood behind the single podium, the lights became dimmer and dimmer and he ended with, ‘Good night and God Bless’.

Funny how life sometimes brings many circles to those we cherish or never knew. It was a pleasure to have shared mine with you and reminisce of Red Skelton once again J.

Sincerely,
Barbara (Phillips) Siembida
August 5th, 2017


Friday, June 16, 2017

Clowning with Red exhibit




Special exhibit on Red Skelton's love of clowns and Clowns love for Red Skelton.
     Red Skelton always wanted to make people laugh. He was a clown at a young age in Vincennes, Indiana. He did a TV special called "Clown Alley" with celebrities friends and professional clowns. 
https://youtu.be/DTa8pCKz6LM 


Red was told that his father was a clown. There is a timeline the shows Red's father and circus history. 

Red was fiends to Clyde Beatty and Emmett Kelly.


Clown honored Red with memberships to Clown Alleys and he kept clown gifts and paintings.









Thursday, February 9, 2017

Black History Month

Wonderful Smith
Wonderful Smith (1911-2008) That is real name. Was the chauffeur to Hattle McDaniel in 1939. Became famous for a telephone routine called "Hello, Mr. President". This was performed on in Duke Ellington's "Jump of Joy" in 1941. That same year he became a cast member for Red Skelton's radio show.

Wonderful appeared as many characters on the show. He did telephone bits and was Deadeye's partner. Smith was drafted in the Army in 1942 but Red read his letters on the air. He returned to the show for the 1945-47 seasons. His contract ended in 1947 and was not renewed. Negative talk followed but if you look at the the 1947 season you will see that Skelton did other cast changes. Band leader David Forrester was replaced by David Rose and GeGe Pearson was replaced by Lurene Tuttle. 

Smith did some television in the 70s. He can be seen in the "Hello Cleveland" scene in "This is Spinal Tape" (1984).   


The Four Knights
 Singing group on Red Skelton's radio show 1948-50. Appeared on the TV show in 1951. 

Guest Stars and Singers on television

Nat King Cole (1953)

Mahalia Jackson (1962)

Dionne Warwick (3)





Nancy Wilson (2 times) 
Godfrey Cambridge (4 times)


Nipsey Russell (2 times)

Archie Moore (1965)
 










---


"Gabe" Jackson taught young Red Skelton to play the ukulele.



Thursday, December 1, 2016

Red Skelton Hour Christmas



Red Skelton started the 12th season with hour long shows. The Christmas episode had the "Freddie and the Yuletide Doll" from 1961. 1962 episode also had the Modernairs sing "The Little Christmas Tree", ballet dancer Roberta Lubell dance to two Christmas songs composed by David Rose, Red singing with the Mitchell Boys Choir and a silent spot with Lubell and Skelton dancing in "The Spectre and the Rose". The Yuletide Doll was used in 1963. A week before the 1962 episode Red did a silent spot of a husband looking for his gift from his wife.

Sometimes Red repeated Christmas skits. In 1963 he did a silent spot about a Christmas rush in a toy store that may have been shown again in 1966,

1964 and 1965 Freddie was featured with Greer Garson in "The Plight Before Christmas". Freddie is looking for a place to have a show for orphans. Greer Garson just finished h
er performance as the Flower Lady in her theater. She is still in make-up when she can't get into her theater. Freddie lets her stay in his shake for the night. She get backs to the theater and offers the theatre for Freddie's show. Freddie does not realize that Garson and the Flower Lady are the same person.  The orphans' show has Freddie singing with the Hillcrest Elementary School Choir of Los Angeles. They sing "The Night Before Christmas" written by Red Skelton. Freddie does a mime bit of threading a needle. Greer Garson reads "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus". The show ends with Freddie and Garson singing "Side by Side". A week before the repeat of this show in 1965, there was a silent spot of Scrooge type newspaper vendor during Christmas.
In 1966 the Flower Lady returns. The 100-voice Recruit Bluejacket Choir from US Naval Training Center this time sings Skelton's "The Night Before Christmas".

A silent spot in 1967 had Santa on a slick roof. The next week had "The Christmas Urchin". The story was about a Freddie and a police officer (Howard Keel) helping a mother and a little girl (Linda Sue Risk). Keel sings Christmas music including Skelton's "The Night Before Christmas".

The 1968 Christmas episode is one I would like to see. The story is based on Christmas during the Revolutionary War. "Senator Dirksen reads Clement Clark Moore's 'A Visit From St. Nicholas' and narrates a dramatic sketch 'A Christmas Story - 1777', written by Red. Balerina Jiliana dances to a medley of David Rose tunes. Mrs. Red Skelton makes her first appearance on the show in eleven years, accepting gifts from four of Red's characters. In the Silent Spot, titled, 'Yes, There is a Santa Claus', Red reprises his classic routine as a husband playing Santa Claus contending with a slippery rooftop."  *IMDb

Linda Sue Risk returns in a 1969 silent spot "The Magic of Christmas". A toymaker on Christmas Eve. Risk appears in a silent spot in 1970. "The Gift of Giving" is about a shoeshine finds a way to help a mother with a little girl.

Red's last Christmas episode was on NBC in 1970 with Leslie Neilsen as a police officer helping Freddie put on a show for orphans.


Freddie appeared on TV again in a Bob Hope special in 1978.

Last Christmas special was for a HBO in 1981. In "Red Skelton's Christmas Dinner" Freddie has saved his money to pay for a Christmas dinner with his friend Professor Humperdoo (Vincent Price). While Freddie is trying to find his friend, he does acts of kindness. One of the them is doing a mime at a children's hospital. He ends up spending all his money on kindness and can't afford a dinner. But being kind has its rewards.

Red Skelton did one special that is played during Christmas because it it connected to Santa Claus but it really is a New Year's special. "Rudolph's Shiny New Year" has the red nosed reindeer looking for the baby new year. Skelton plays Father Time and also Baby Bear of the Three Bears. Baby Bear sounds like his Junior character from the radio.


Guest Stars - Don Knotts


Don Knotts (1924-2006)


Best know for his role as 'Barney Fife' on the "The Andy Griffith Show" (1960-1968). He was a 'Nervous Chap' on "The Steve Allen Plymouth Show (1957-1960). He was the star in feature films in the late 60's and Disney films in the late 70's. Returned to TV on "Three's Company" (1979-1984). Don Knotts' daughter, Karen Knotts, performs a one-woman show about her father. She performed the show at the Red Skelton Center in 2015.


Guest star 1961-1965

San Fernando and Herbie (1961/05/23) San Fernando Red has a fixed talent contest. Herbie (Don Knotts) wants to be a comedian. (On DVD titled "Indiana".)




Deadeye and the Gunslinger (1961/10/17) Don Knotts spoofs "Have Gun Will Travel" character. 

Jerk and the Beanstalk (1963/05/28) Don Knotts is a fitness trainer helping Appleby.

How Are Things in Glocca Moron?(1964/02/25) Knotts is a diamond cutter and Clem is the guard.




A Creep in the Deep (1965/01/26) A Commodore of Lagoons wants to take down Freddie's houseboat in a park.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thanksgiving

"The Thanksgiving Turkey" 1952/11/23
 
The First Thanksgiving 1956/11/20 
Freddie's Thanksgiving 1957/11/26

Freddie and the Turkey Dinner 1958/11/25
Freddie and the Turkey Dinner 1958/11/25
Silent Spot 1967/11/28
Edna Borzage, Johnny Weissmuller, Red, wife Georgia