Skelton, Richard Bernard

▪ 1998

      American comic actor (b. July 18, 1913, Vincennes, Ind.—d. Sept. 17, 1997, Rancho Mirage, Calif.), was a favourite clown of many generations of Americans. A rubber-faced master of the pratfall, he used his talents as a mime to create such memorable characters as Clem Kaddiddlehopper, Freddie the Freeloader, the cross-eyed seagulls Gertrude and Heathcliffe, and the Mean Widdle Kid, whose catchphrase "I dood it" was soon heard all over the country and was later (1943) the title of one of his films. Because his family was destitute, Skelton went to work when he was seven, both delivering newspapers and entertaining on the street. At 10 he joined a traveling medicine show. It was at auditions for that show, when he accidentally fell off the stage, that he discovered his talent for making people laugh by means of physical comedy. After performing on showboats, in burlesque houses, and on the vaudeville circuit, Skelton appeared (1937) on Broadway, thanks to a doughnut-dunking-and-eating pantomime routine he had developed. Radio appearances and a role in the film Having Wonderful Time (1938) followed and led to such other films as Whistling in the Dark (1941), Bathing Beauty (1944), The Fuller Brush Man (1948), Neptune's Daughter (1949), and Three Little Words (1950) and the popular radio program "Red Skelton's Scrapbook of Satire." A notable later motion picture appearance came at the beginning of Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965), his last film, in which he portrayed a Neanderthal attempting to fly. Television proved to be Skelton's best medium, however. For some 20 years in the 1950s and '60s, "The Red Skelton Hour" showcased his stable of hilarious characters and made him one of the country's most well-known and well-liked entertainers. In 1970, though, despite the fact that the show was consistently in the top 20 in the ratings, CBS canceled it, considering it irrelevant to younger audience members. It aired for one more year on NBC. Skelton then returned to performing live and made 75 or more appearances a year. He also took up the painting of clowns, earning an estimated $2.5 million a year from the sale of his creations, and wrote children's books, short stories, and symphonies. Skelton was given the Governors Award of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences at the 1986 Emmy awards ceremony and in 1989 was inducted into the academy's Hall of Fame.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Skelton, (“Red”) Richard Bernard — (1913 1997)    Born in Vincennes, Indiana, Red Skelton began working as a boy delivering papers and singing. He left school at the age of 14 to work on river showboats and later toured with a circus and appeared in burlesque shows. In 1938,… …   Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era

  • Skelton — Skelton, John * * * (as used in expressions) Skelton, John Skelton, Red Richard Bernard Skelton …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Bernard — Bernard, Claude * * * (as used in expressions) Albinus, Bernard Siegfried Baruch, Bernard (Mannes) Berenson, Bernard Bernard, Claude Henriette Rosine Bernard Bosanquet, Bernard Bernard Schwartz De Voto, Bernard (Augustine) Foucault, Jean (Bernard …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Skelton, Red — orig. Richard Bernard Skelton born July 18, 1913, Vincennes, Ind., U.S. died Sept. 17, 1997, Rancho Mirage, Calif. U.S. comic actor. He joined a touring medicine show at age 10, performed in minstrel shows, burlesque, and vaudeville, and was a… …   Universalium

  • Skelton — /skel tn/, n. 1. John, c1460 1529, English poet. 2. Richard Bernard ( Red ), 1913 97, U.S. actor and comedian. * * * (as used in expressions) Skelton John Skelton Red Richard Bernard Skelton * * * …   Universalium

  • Bernard — /berdd nannrdd / for 1; /berr neuhrd, berr nahrd / for 2, n. 1. Claude /klohd/, 1813 78, French physiologist. 2. a male given name: from Germanic words meaning bear and hardy. * * * (as used in expressions) Albinus Bernard Siegfried Baruch… …   Universalium

  • Richard — /ri shahrd /; Fr. /rddee shannrdd /, n. Maurice /maw rees /; Fr. /moh rddees /, ( the Rocket ), born 1921, Canadian hockey player. /rich euhrd/, n. a male given name. * * * (as used in expressions) Allen Richard Arkwright Sir Richard Attlee… …   Universalium

  • Richard — (as used in expressions) Allen, Richard Arkwright, Sir Richard Attlee, Clement (Richard), 1 conde Attlee de Walthamstow Avedon, Richard Ballinger, Richard A(chilles) Barton, Sir Derek H(arold) R(ichard) Bentley, Richard Bonington, Richard Parkes… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Skelton, Red — orig. Richard Bernard Skelton (18 jul. 1913, Vincennes, Ind., EE.UU.–17 sep. 1997, Rancho Mirage, Cal.). Actor cómico estadounidense. A la edad de 10 años se unió a un medicine show (espectáculos ambulantes con números cómicos, donde charlatanes… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Skelton — /skel tn/, n. 1. John, c1460 1529, English poet. 2. Richard Bernard ( Red ), 1913 97, U.S. actor and comedian. * * * skelton obs. form of skeleton …   Useful english dictionary

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