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Red Skelton We know him as Freddy the Freeloader Clem Kaddidlehopper Cauliflower McPugg and Dead Eye His career spanned over fifty years and he conquered every entertainment medium from vaudeville to television He is Red Skelton whos remarkable skill to evoke emotional responses from laughter to tears from his audiences have marked him as one of the greatest and best loved comedians In his biography of this great comedian Arthur Marx captured the many and diverse aspects of Red Skelton While he was a comedic clown on the outside like many other comedians Skeltons home life was anything but funny Marx illustrates how Skeltons private life was full of tragedy including the death of his only son from leukemia the suicide of his wife and his own near mental collapse Marx says that through much of his life Skelton was an unhappy and tormented individual a sad and lonely man who trusted practically no one and who was as unreachable as a distant star Skelton was the son of a circus clown was raised in poverty he quit school at the age of seven and trouped in circuses carnivals and vaudeville theaters Marx points out that his career began in his hometown of nearby Vincennes Indiana At age 10 he left his home to travel with a medicine show throughout the Midwest He joined the vaudeville circus at age 15 Then at the young age of 17 Skelton married Edna Marie Stilwell who later even after their divorce served as his manager and chief writer Continuing the story of Skeltons career Marx points out that Skelton made his debut on Broadway and radio in 1937 and on film in 1938 on the show Having Wonderful Time At that time known as Richard Skelton he performed some of his own pieces such as a demonstration of how different people walk up and down stairs That appearance Marx says may have been Skeltons big break
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