Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Red Skelton hour TV Christmas shows.

Red Skelton started the 12the 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 her performance as the Flower Lady in her theatre. She is still in make-up when she can't get into her theatre. Freddie lets her stay in his shake for the night. She get backs to the theatre 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 shoeshiner 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.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Red Skelton half hour TV Christmas shows

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. I hope Timeless would release the episode. 

 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 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 on the "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 ice skate. "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.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Red Skelton Revue 1954

About a month after is last 1/2 hour show Red returned to television in a hour long variety show for the summer. The Red Skelton Revue had a mix of Red Skelton characters, nightclub acts, tap dancing, ballet and opera singers. On his first show he had Liberace and brother George, Tony Curtis, Alan Ladd, Egyptian Acrobats, the Amin Brothers and Sahara Hotel chorus line. Other guest on the Revue were Burt Lancaster and Rosemary Clooney. One show had Frank Sinatra and helped the career of Johnny Carson.

Johnny Carson appeared on local television and was a writer for the show. He wrote the seagulls jokes. Red Skelton was injured during a rehearsal of the show. Red could not perform. Johnny Carson hosted the show. This gave Carson national attention. On another episode Red's guess was Ed Wynn. During the show Red tells the story of meeting Ed Wynn in Vincennes. More about the Ed Wynn story in a future blog. 
Red Skelton returned to a half hour show for the Season 4.

Will Rogers Jr. and Deadeye
Freddie with Peggy Lee

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Red Skelton Show Season 03 1953-54 NBC

NBC cancelled the Red Skelton Show in 1953.  Ratings were low. This may have been because of low energy in the production. Skelton was under doctor's orders to take it easy. The was taped and Red was able to retake and take his time for costume changes. This was good for Red but not for the show. The sponsor Tide did not renew the contract. Red thought he was done but CBS picked up the show. Red got his timing back by performing live in Las Vegas. He wanted to do his show like his Vegas show but CBS did not want that. It still had some of the format of the old show. Announcer Bob Warren and music director David Rose went to his CBS show. The show did have a new cast and sponsor.

It fits that the sponsor was Geritol. This product was suppose to help tired blood. New blood to the cast included Jan Arvan, Ray Kellogg, Jimmy Cross and Isabel Randolph. Some of the cast stayed with him to the to the end of his series. A new character appeared. There was a hint to this type of character last season but this season he had the name George Appleby. Freddie's home was seen. First he had a shack at 422 Country Club Drive but that was removed for a highway. Then he had a place with a fireplace. He dressed up as Santa to give himself a gift.

Red had bigger guest star this season. John Wayne appeared again to get a award from Modern Screen magazine and at the end of a skit. Jackie Gleason appeared as his character Reginald Van Gleason. Ann Southern was on spoofing her TV show "Private Secretary". Ed Sullivan had a bit with McPugg.

Red Skelton last show of season 3 was three guest stars, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Vampire. Lugosi was going through hard times in 1954. This was the time he was with Ed Wood. In the 1994 film "Ed Wood" there was a scene where Lugosi appeared on a comic's TV show. Martin Landau played Bela having trouble with Red's ad libs. This did not happen in the 1954 episode.

Red did not get in the top 30s ratings. He tried something different in his next season after a special summer.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Red Skelton Show Season 02 1952-53 NBC

Emmy winning Red Skelton started his second season on doctors orders. In 1952 Red was doing a radio program, television program and movies. This was a bit to much and his doctor told him to take it easy. NBC wanted the show to be live. Red wanted to have his television show filmed, not live. This way he could do retakes, different camera angles and take his time to change costumes. Some his bits on his first season was filmed. Most of them were the Tide bits. At the beginning to the 1952-53 season, Red was filming the movie "The Clown". The film was based on the movie "The Champ". This time it is a about a former Ziegfeld comic now having a hard time. He had a drinking problem and trying to raise a son buy himself. In the end he gets a big break on TV but collapses on stage. The TV scenes include skits Red used on his TV show. In a way this was close to what happened to Red in real life. "The Clown" film was released in January 1953. Red was recovering from a hernia operation.

Before Red's surgery, the show was doing fine. Red had his friend John Wayne do a walk on the show promoting Wayne's film "Big Jim McLain". Red had most of the same cast from last season. Added to the cast was Ned Glass and Mike Ross. Some of the cast appeared "The Clown". Charles Bronson was just starting in acting. He appeared in the film and TV show under the name of "Buchinsky". Just before the hernia, Red introduced Freddie the Freeloader. Freddie was wearing a pinstriped suit at first. Freddie was in the Christmas episode but that was not released on the Timeless DVD Early Years set. I don't know if he was wearing the top hat and tails. The Christmas show was the last show before the operation.

The show was still on the air while Red was recovering. Announcer Bob Warren and cast member Lucille Knoch introduced skits of Red that were filmed in season 1 and 2. The show did have new part by way of music. Singers like Helen O'Connell, Lucille Norman and others including Nat King Cole sang songs. David Rose played his music. This went on for about three months. The ratings went down.

Red came back to the show in late March. Tide decided not the sponsor the show for another season and NBC was not going to pick it up. In April, there was talk that CBS was going to take the show. The Early Years DVD set has the dress rehearsal of Red's last NBC show. He tells the invited guest audience that he will be on CBS. The show that went on the air, he said he did not know where he was going. Season 3 was on CBS.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Red Skelton Show Season 01 1951-52 NBC

It took ten years to see the characters that Red Skelton had on his radio show. September 30, 1951 Sunday night, Red Skelton teased the public on how the Deadeye, San Fernando Red, Cauliflower McPugg would look like. He did this by just changing his hat. He explained that Junior would be seen as Red telling jokes as his son Richard. Willie Lump Lump was featured in the opening and he did Clem as the Irish Tenor at the end. Guest singers were the Skylarks.

Sad to say that the first episode (01.01) was not released on the Early Years DVD set. Don't know the details but I was told that some episode were not released because of condition or they were not in the collection. It looks like some of the episode was filmed on kinoscope. The sponsor clip can be seen on DVD because it was used in a later episode. It was called "Quick Change". Red was showing what he had to do to change from one character to another.

The Early Years DVD set did not release the first three episodes. This is a shame. The second episode (01.02) featured Red's classic "Bathing a Baby" skit. 01.03 had "Dunking Doughnuts". The Doughnuts filmed skit was seen in a later episode. The DVD set does have most of season 01 on Disc 1-5. The shows begins with the Tide theme "T-I-D-E Tide", Red's monologue sometimes are about current events, his children (Junior jokes), ways different people behave or one of his characters. His shows did not stay on one subject or one character. Some skits became a Tide commercial. Some had a musical guest that sang a song as part of the beginning of a skit or in a segment by themselves. He didn't not have major guest stars in the skits. Bob Hope and Milton Berle appeared briefly at the end of some episodes.

New characters were introduced in this season. A character that was crying all the time was called Weepy J. Newton Numbskull. Red did have a character called Numbskull on the radio. He was a bit of a everyman. This character may have been transformed later into George Appleby. Another new character was Lord Beaverhead. He was a British newscaster. Most of the jokes were about the British and other countries. Near the end of the season, Red was telling Seagull jokes. The names of the seagulls were not the ones we know today.

There were some special episodes. Christmas was always special to Red. In mid December he did an episode where Clem was selling Christmas trees. This skit was based on an radio episode. The TV episode before Christmas, Red invited the viewers to his "home". Cast member Shirley Mitchell gets the house ready for Red's wife and two children and greets the guest; David Rose and his wife, Gene Fowler and his wife, Bo Roos (Red's manager) and Red's characters come and visit. The show ends with a boys choir and Red's views on Christmas.

Another episode featured the skit "Topsy Turvy". Willie Lump Lump's wife tries to cure him from drinking. He wakes up in a room where the table is on the wall and a wall painting is on the floor. This skit was done in the Red Skelton film "The Clown" and again on the TV series. He performed his classic "Guzzler's Gin" skit on a episode filmed in San Francisco.

The Red Skelton Show was #4 in the ratings. It was awarded two Emmys for best show and best comedian. It had a regular cast members; Lucille Knoch, Shirley Michell, Benny Rubin, Gil Perkins, Dick Ryan and "Sam". Sam main job was to pull Red under the curtain at the end of the show. The show was a big hit but things change in season 2.


Friday, November 14, 2014

DVD - The Red Skelton Show the Early Years 1951-1955

Timeless Media Group has released The Red Skelton Show the Early Years 1951-1955. This is a near complete release of episodes from Season 01 to Season 05.  It is a 11 disc set. Just about all of the episodes are in air date order. Bonus features are a biography video of Red Skelton and a dress rehearsal video of his last show on NBC in 1953. I will try to post highlights and info.

61437 Disc 1: Smokeless Sunday 10/21/51 - Learn to Dance in Ten Easy Lessons of One Hard One 12/30/51. Disc 2: The Bouncer 01/06/52 - How to Eat Corn on the Cob 03/23/52
61447 Disc 3: Willie the Barber 03/30/52 - Let's Talk About Father 06/15/52. Disc 4: Willie Comes Home - Fancy Footwork 12/07/52
61457 Disc 5: The Sultan 12/14/52 - McPugg's Last Fight 09/22/53. Disc 6: The Nervous Tenor's Audition 10/13/53 - It Happened At the Station House 12/15/53
61467 Disc 7: Skeltons At Christmas 12/22/53 - Captain Hook 02/16/54. Disc 8: Cave-Man Marriage 02/23/54 - Clem Goes to Mexico 05/25/54
61477 Disc 9: Mississippi Showboat 06/01/54 - An USO Thanksgiving 11/23/54. Disc 10: Chicago Red in Las Vegas 11/30/54 - Red Goes to Barber College 02/08/55
61487 Disc 11: America's Clown: An Intimate Biography of Red Skelton; Dress Rehearsal "Deadeye From Mars"; Deadeye From Mars 06/21/53; Look Magazine Movie Awards 03/08/55
I have been bad at posting. I have been posting brief news on Facebook. www.facebook.com/RedSkeltonVincennes . I will try to work on my detailed blogs here.