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'Red Skelton Show' — A Look Back at One of TV's Most Entertaining Programs That Spanned 2 Decades

Lois Oladejo
Jun 16, 2020
02:00 A.M.

"Red Skelton Show" was one of America's favorite comedy shows for two decades, and almost fifty years after its end, the show is still remembered by many.

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"The Red Skelton Show" premiered on NBC on September 30, 1951, and almost immediately, the show became a hit. Airing for twenty seasons, it was undoubtedly an essential part of an average American's life back then.

The show's popularity and acceptance were unmatchable. In its first year, it had already won an Emmy award for Best Comedy Series while the host, Red Skelton, grabbed Best Comedian's award in that same year.

A portrait photograph of Red Skelton, circa 1960s. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A portrait photograph of Red Skelton, circa 1960s. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In 1963, "The Red Skelton Show" moved it's airing to CBS and stayed with the network until 1970. However, for its final season in 1971, the show moved back to NBC.

"The Red Skelton Show" was famous for its introductory comedic monologues, which were followed by guest appearances. Over the run of its twenty seasons, the show had stars such as Diana Ross & the Supremes, Ed Sullivan, and George Raft, among others.

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Sadly, by the start of the '70s, several television networks canceled shows that appeared too focused on a rural audience and lacked youth appeal.

A photograph of Red Skelton, circa 1990s. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A photograph of Red Skelton, circa 1990s. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

"Red Skelton Show" was one of the shows canceled alongside many comedy shows hosted by legendary stars such as Jackie Gleason and Ed Sullivan.

Throughout its run, the show was hosted by veteran comedian, Richard "Red" Skelton. Skelton never headlined another TV show until the end of his career after the cancelation of the show.

On September 17, 1997, Richard "Red" Skelton died at the age of 84 in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

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Growing up in a low-income family, Skelton's knack for comedy was noticeable at an early stage because, despite the hardship going on around him, he enjoyed making people laugh.

Skelton began performing and participating in a traveling medicine show when he was only a child. By the time he was 15, he had left home to Hollywood, where he relentlessly pursued a career in entertainment.

Initially, Skelton performed in vaudeville and burlesque before going on to work on radio as well as making appearances in some movies.

A photograph of Red Skelton, circa 1990s. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A photograph of Red Skelton, circa 1990s. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

After making a name for himself on radio, NBC reached out to him to propose a new show which he would headline. Starring in films with actors such as Lucille Ball and Gene Kelly in the past served useful in helping him lead the show.

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Before starting "The Red Skelton Show, " Skelton was already recording tremendous success, which resulted in some major deals for him.

In a May 4, 1951 newspaper publication, Skelton was reported to have signed a multi-million dollar deal with popular soap company, Procter and Gamble.

Red Skelton with his wife Georgia Davis, his son Richard Freeman Skelton, and daughter Valentina Skelton, circa 1950s. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Red Skelton with his wife Georgia Davis, his son Richard Freeman Skelton, and daughter Valentina Skelton, circa 1950s. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Skelton once explained that during his career in Hollywood, he had no interest in being ranked among one of the greatest. According to him, he just wanted to be remembered as a clown.

On September 17, 1997, Red Skelton, a prolific comedian who mastered the art of clowning, died at the age of 84 in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

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