Red Skelton rose from poverty to become one of the most popular comedians of his day. A comedic genius, he created a gallery of comedic personas: Clem Kaddidlehopper, the Mean Little Kid, San Fernando Red, Freddie the Freeloader and others, which allowed him not only to amuse but also to engage in wry commentary about some of the foibles of his time. Skelton the man was fairly simple: he liked to make people laugh, and he loved God, Country and Kids. The love of God and his dying son I have written about in the post The Pope, the Clown and the Cross. Skelton’s love of God and Country shines through in his rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance which I have written about here.
His love of kids was no mere entertainer’s pose as the following anecdote illustrates:
“Funny how you can go to a doctor’s offices and find magazines that are years old in the lobby. I had to go to a dentist two week ago and found a Golf magazine from the 80’s. I also found a magazine that told me the following story:
Decades ago, a young American was flying across the mountain ranges of Europe on his way to London. Accompanying his friend, a Catholic priest, the two were scheduled to have a meeting with the Pope in England. As the priest talked, the plane suddenly rocked. Then rocked again. Something told the priest the plane was not destined to ever touch land again.
The passengers, busy in their individual conversations, failed to notice, the priest observed, until a flight attendant made an announcement of impending doom. The plane was over a mountain range and losing altitude.