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)
 










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"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

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Red Skelton Hour TimeLife DVD release 2016


TimeLife has release a collection of edited episodes of the Red Skelton Hour. The Red Skelton Hour in Color is a 10 disc set. The episodes are not complete. In most cases some musical numbers are edited out. In one case a silent spot is edited out. - MK

1966-1967 Opening


Disc1 - 1966/01/04 Forsooth, GS: Milton Berle; [Red and Berle are torture chamber salesmen. They end up entertaining knights in the field.] 1969/10/28 Deadeye, GS: John Wayne; [Celebrating John Wayne's 50 years in movies] 1967/10/31 Freddie, GS: Jackie Coogan, Tim Conway, Nancy Ames; [Freddie becomes a hippie] 1968/09/24 Clem GS: Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Ed Sullivan. [Karloff and Price thinks that Clem is a robot. Boris and Vincent sing.] Bonus interviews: Bobby Rydell; Vicki Lawrence


Disc 2 - 1966/09/20 Clem, GS: Mickey Rooney, Simon & Garfunkel [Rooney is gambler that is cursed to see Clem's face on people he meet.] 1967/02/14 Forsooth GS: George Gobel [Christopher Columbus] 1968/01/23 Clem GS: Phyllis Diller, Lou Rowls; [Diller is a old movie star trying to make a come back.] Deadeye, 1968/10/15 GS: Martha Raye [Raye tries to get rid of Deadeye.]

Disc 3 - 1966/12/13 Deadeye, GS: Robert Goulet; [Deadeye wants to be in a western movie.] 1966/03/01 Willie Lump Lump, GS: John Wayne; [Red performs his classic Dunking Donuts and Topsy Turvy skit.] 1969/01/14 Appleby, GS: Audrey Meadows; [Appleby and Clara go through their past and future anniversaries. Red recites The Pledge of Allegiance.] 1969/03/18 Bolivar, Deadeye, Willie Lump Lump, GS: Merv Griffin [Bolivar get guest for Merv Griffin's show.]

Disc 4 - 1968/03/12 Appleby, GS: Mike Connors; [Appleby believes that Clara is trying to kill him for insurance money.] 1967/10/10 Appleby, GS: Fernando Lamas, The 5th Dimension; [Appleby helps a "I Spy" type spy.] 1967/11/21 Bolivar, McPugg, Appleby, GS: Polly Bergen, Pat Carroll [An old man reviews his relatives to see who should inherit his money.]

Disc 5 - 1968/02/13 Deadeye, GS: Burl Ives, Lulu; [Deadeye looks for a crook in a ghost gold mine.] 1967/10/3 Forsooth, GS: Bert Lahr; [Forsooth fights a dragon.] 1968/04/30 Appleby, GS: Nipsey Russell, The Association [Appleby gets a exterminated for insurance.]


  Disc 6 - 1969/09/23 Pop, GS: Peter Graves; [Pop stowaway on a trip to Jupiter.] 1967/12/05 Freddie GS: George Gobel, Frankie Valli & The 4 Seasons [Freddie tries to get Gobel's memory back.] 1967/09/12 GS: Mauice Evans [Seven stages of man.]

Disc 7 - 1966/02/01 Deadeye, GS: George Gobel [Deadeye tries to a famous painter to sign a wanted poster.] 1967/02/28 Freddie, GS: Terry-Thomas; [Freddie interferes with a highway beautification project.] 1967/03/21 San Fernando GS: Richard Chamberlain [Red is on trial for tax evasion.]


Disc 8 - 1967/04/04 Clem, GS: Tennessee Ernie Ford; [Clem tries to be an Olympic chicken pucker.] 1967/09/19 Deadeye, GS: Stanley Holloway, Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 [Deadeye claims to be a brother of rich Englishman.] 1968/03/05 Clem, GS: Liberace [Liberace is Clem's brother.]
                          
Disc 9 - 1967/03/07 Appleby, GS: Mickey Rooney, Martha Raye; [George meets a rich friends that miss vaudeville days.] 1967/05/09 Appleby, GS: Nipsey Russell [Nipsey and George team up as a comedy team to get on TV.] 1967/10/17 Freddie, GS: Terry-Thomas, Nancy Wilson [Freddie is in a department store fashion show.]

Disc 10 - 1968/10/08 McPugg, Bolivar, GS: Maurice Evans, Shirley Bassey [McPugg learns to play the violin but Bolivar wants him to be a boxer.] Documentary: America's Clown.



A memory book is included with the 10 disc set. Many photos in the book are from the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy.





Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Red Skelton 1/2 hour Christmas episodes.

Red Skelton did many episodes about Christmas.

1951 - "Clean Politics"
In 1951 Skelton was in the Christmas spirit early. He did a bit as Clem selling Christmas tree. This was based on a radio skit. Then he did a bit as Willie Lump Lump trimming a tree.






1951 - The Skeltons at Home
                   
On Christmas week, he did a special episode with his family and friends. Cast member Shirley Mitchell welcomed guest to Skelton's home. Guest were humor writer Gene Folwer and wife, David Rose and wife and Skelton's business manager Bo Roos. Skelton's character stopped by for a quick visit. The show ended with a boys choir.
"The Christmas Show" 1952 has not been released on DVD. I have seen the script. The outline of the show has Red Visits Santa, Different People Buying Toys, Freddie, Dressing the Window, Clem in the Post Office and Red's Closing Christmas Speech.  

 In 1953 another visit with the Skelton family. They wonder how Freddie is celebrating Christmas. He gets a gift of a turkey from the police and dresses up as Santa to give himself a gift. Ends with a boys choir and Red sings "Oh Come All Ye Faithful".

1954 has Red telling the story of the "The Unwanted Christmas Tree" to his family. Red is Chester, an assistant tree salesman. He gets an unwanted tree to a poor boys club. Magic happens when the boys welcome the tree.

Red Skelton adapted the short story "The Cop and the Anthem" by O. Henry for Freddie the Freeloader. The story is about a hobo that plans to spend the winter in a warm jail. He tries many ways to get arrested but fails. Ends up getting inspired to better himself after just before he gets arrested. This episode first aired in 1955, then repeated in 1956 and 1960.



Freddie is featured in the 1957 Christmas episode "The Third Wish". All I know (not on DVD) is that Freddie is repairing toys for children and gets help from a Genie. The Genie is played by child actor Richard Eyer. This episode aired before Eyer played the Genie in the film "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad". This episode was repeated in 1958.

"Clem the Mailman" was the 1959 episode. Clem is a mailman during Christmas time. He gets involved with a jewel thief trying to smuggle gems in candy.



1961 was the last season of the half hour episodes. Red did an all mime Christmas episode. Freddie finds a Raggedy Ann doll in a park played by Cara Williams. Williams was appearing in a TV comedy show "Pete and Gladys" at the time. It comes to life and they visit Santa and go ice skating. "Freddie and the Yuletide Doll" was repeated in the hour episodes in 1962, 1963 and 1964.

More about the hour Christmas shows in another post.