Legendary clown Richard ‘Red’ Skelton was born on July 18, 1913. During a career that stretched through medicine shows, vaudeville, motion pictures, radio and television, the gentle Skelton created a beloved host of characters from the silent tramp Freddie the Freeloader (shown above) to the Mean Widdle Kid, who coined the catch phrase, ‘I dood it!’ Skelton’s sentimental humor, so popular in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, did not change with the times and in 1970, CBS canceled The Red Skelton Show. Skelton refused to retire, touring the college lecture circuit and painting clown faces that sold for as much as $80,000. Red Skelton died at age 84 on September 17, 1997.
Photo: Jack Powers