Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Three Word Wednesday - Theatre Funny Remember - 4/9/08

Today's Three Word Wednesday prompts are theatre, funny, and remember. The first thing that comes to my fragmented mind is:

I was born about the time that Network Television broadcasts reached the wilds of Northern Idaho. Like most of you, except those of you who are Bushmen of the Kalahari, I have always had television in my life. As an only child, TV was my companion, and through the years has enriched my life like nothing else. Though sometimes we had one set with sound and another with picture and some winters there was more snow on the screen than on the ground, my family loved TV.

I remember my dad climbing up on the roof to move the antenna around while he and my mom yelled back and forth like some kind of long-range eye test “Is that better?” “What about now?”

I have had aluminum foil enriched rabbit ears. Now, I get upset when I can’t find the remote control.

When I was a kid, the most hilarious man on television was Red Skeleton. He was the Robin Williams of that era. His mind worked at a breakneck speed. His show was pure theatre. It was live. Though later it was taped, there were no retakes. All the mistakes were broadcast. He would laugh at his own jokes, crack up his guest stars, talk to the audience in the middle of a sketch, and sometimes say things that were not acceptable for 1950’s television. He was a clown by trade and though I despise and fear clowns, he was endearing. He transformed himself into many wonderful characters including: a Hobo Freddie the Freeloader, Junior the Mean Widdle Kid, country bumpkin Clem Kadiddlehopper, Sheriff Deadeye, boxer Cauliflower McPugg, drunkard Willy Lump-Lump, and con man San Fernando Red. Johnny Carson got his start as a writer for the show. The Rolling Stones made their first American appearance on the Red Skeleton show in 1965. Red was so funny that his audience was recorded and turned into the laugh tracks that are still heard on sitcoms.

One of Red’s many talents was pantomime. He was a master. Sometimes Marcel Marceau, the world’s most famous mime would appear with him. Though I despise and fear mimes, the two of them together was magic.

Like so many talented people, there was nothing funny about Red’s private life. He suffered from alcoholism, several marriages, the death of his son, fights with networks/writers, and political turmoil. Through it all, he was America’s number 1 clown until his death in 1997.

He always ended each broadcast in much the same way. I will end this blog by letting Red speak for both of us:


“I personally believe that we were put here to build and not to destroy. So if by chance some day you’re not feeling well and you should remember some silly little thing I’ve said or done and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart – then my purpose has been fulfilled. Goodnight and may God bless.” Red Skelton

10 comments:

Lucy said...

This post is rich with nostalgia of a truly magical era. I remember Red Skelton, especially the Clem kaddidlehopper character! What nice memories this post brought to mind. I had no idea about his troubled life and am surprised he lived till '97. How old was he when he passed? All the info you provided was so interesting, The laugh track still being used, and Carson writing for him. Great use of the 3 words Rick, and a great journey back to where you probably acquired your clever sense of humor. :))

paisley said...

i just had the pleasure of watching two red skelton movies yesterday... du barry was a lady, and the show off... hats off to a great entertainer!!!!!!

rebecca said...

Oh, this brought up so many memories of my childhood! I also grew up watching Red Skelton -- he was a comedic genius. And one of the very best and most brilliant comedians of our time. Also, very, very well loved.

Thank you for that ride thru memory lane...

giggles said...

Oh Gosh this is a marvelous memory for me! Not a fan of clowns either, I loved Red Skelton and his commentary throughout the show!Thanks for this wonderful post, it warmed my heart!

Hugs Sherrie

pjd said...

A nice tribute. He was a little before my time.

Clowns and mimes, eh?

anthonynorth said...

I've heard of him, but being from the UK I never watched him. I think I may have missed a lot.

tumblewords said...

I was nearly out of high school here in Idaho before we got TV and I loved Red, the Smothers Brothers, Alfred Hitchcock and several others. I haven't watched much TV since then! Great post!

TC said...

Very nostalgic. Growing up, we were LUCKY if we got three stations to come in - with the TV tower put up in the backyard. It was insane. After I left home, TV has never been of big interest to me. My brother went the other way and is addicted to his. Go figure!

onemorebeliever said...

thoroughly enjoyable post!!.. he was such a presence in tv at that time... hilarious abt the antenna and yr parents... i remember that too!!!... rabbit ears... i still have them on my tv...

Greyscale Territory said...

What a fantastic memory trip. I vaguely remember Red Skelton, but certainly remember my Mum yelling to the rooftop about the antenna position!

Gemma