Tuesday, December 23, 2014


When I was a kid, Red Skelton - along with Jonathan Winters - was in my pantheon of great performers. Still is.  He's why I don't have that fear of clowns which seems to afflict nearly all of my friends. His show on Tuesday nights were required viewing for me, especially for the Silent Spot and anything to do with Freddie the Freeloader.

In the Toobworld Dynamic, Freddie is a character to be found in both Skitlandia (as to be expected) and Earth Prime-Time as well. We know he's in Skitlandia because Red would do sketches about him on his variety show. But as for the main Toobworld, Freddie stood on his own as a "real" character thanks to an HBO special: "Freddie The Freeloader's Christmas Dinner".

In this holiday special, Freddie did his best to help bring Christmas cheer to some young unfortunates and then have a nice dinner with his friend Professor Humperdoo who was also "down on his luck."

'The Red Skelton Hour' has a televersion in the main Toobworld, so we know Red would do his own version of a "real-life" tramp. Freddie and the televersion of Red must have crossed paths at some point and Red must have seen in him the universal humor and pathos of the great tramp clown characters. I'm sure he got Freddie's permission to do sketches based on him... with some sort of financial remuneration to tide him over, of course.

We get further proof that the televersion of Red Skelton performed as Freddie The Freeloader in an episode of 'The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour'. Red was gracious enough to let the Ricardos and the Mertzes share his hotel room because the hotel in Alaska was booked solid. And Lucy got to play a fellow tramp in a sketch with Red portraying Freddie for a special performance at that hotel.

I bring this all up because as I've been yammering about all year, this is the 15th anniversary of the Television Crossover Hall Of Fame. As such, I've been following my mantra of "What I Say, Goes" in choosing the new members each month, some with very tenuous connections to one TV show, let alone three. (I'm eye to eye with you, Nick Fury!) I even inducted a TV character that technically didn't even exist: It was mentioned in 'Downton Abbey' that Lavinia Swire had a cousin and I combined her with a character's girlfriend named Ellie mentioned in an episode of 'Torchwood'. Thus, Ellie Swire. And because she gave her cousin and her intended Matthew a wedding gift of music from the Future, I decided Ellie Swire was a never-seen Companion to the Time Lord known as the Doctor.

So knowing that I could have a free hand in the selection process, I decided that somehow I would make sure Red Skelton found a home in the TVXOHOF. And I knew Freddie the Freeloader was the perfect choice for the Christmas (Not So Silent) Spot because of the HBO holiday special. Freddie's big heart and spirit embodies the true meaning of Christmas.

Also in Skitlandia, Freddie met Herman Munster and The Poor Soul:


And he even existed - at least as a character played by Red Skelton - in the Tooniverse. (He was mentioned by Kent Brockman in an episode of 'The Simpsons'.)

But then I realized that Mr. Skelton his own red-haired self was eligible for membership in the Hall. His TV series is acknowledged as existing in the main Toobworld thanks to 'CSI', 'The Honeymooners', and 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'. (Respectively, Grissom mentioned the show in an episode as did Ralph Kramden. And Sally Rogers pointed out that Alan Brady always sent a Christmas card to Red Skelton's writers.)

Red Skelton played himself in a great behind-the-scenes look at the TV industry in a 'Desilu Playhouse' special called "The Man In The Funny Suit". This was Rod Serling's salute to Ed Wynn, who played the trainer for a boxer in Serling's "Requiem For A Heavyweight". It was a warts-and-all script about Serling's fears that Wynn wasn't up to the job and that he would blow the live performance. A lot of the actors involved in the first production - minus Jack Palance - played themselves in this, even Serling who doesn't let himself look good in how he acted towards Wynn.

To this we can add that appearance with Lucy and Ricky to have enough shows for him to qualify.

So we have a "Two for Tuesday" with this month's induction: Red Skelton and Freddie the Freeloader.

Welcome, gentlemen.........

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