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Jon Gallagher
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When I was growing up, my parents made us watch Red Skelton's Comedy Hour. I'm not sure "made" is the right word, but since this was long before the days of cable, if you were going to watch TV in our house at this particular hour, that's what you were going to watch whether you liked it or not. As a result, I became a fan.

As my career in magic started to take off, I was dealing with a used magic dealer who lived about 25 miles from my home in central Illinois. Her name was Leola LaWain and she and her husband Jack had been big time magicians who had toured with both Thurston and Nicola. He had passed away, but she was still running the used magic shop out of her home in Monmouth IL (not exactly the place where you'd expect to find a magic shop).

Once when I was at her home, I noticed pictures on the wall. I started looking at them and realized that one I was staring at was a picture of President Ford. Then I realized that it was the couch below me that he was sitting on! I said, "That's the President!" I was always one to state the obvious.

Mrs. LaWain just smiled. "Oh yes. We've known Gerry since he was a Freshman Congressman!" As it turned out, Mrs. LaWain knew A LOT of people, famous and not so famous. I came across another picture of a man sitting on her couch. Red Skelton.

"You know him too?!?! I used to watch his TV show all the time!"

"Oh sure. He still stops by if he's touring in the area."

Wow. I told her how much his comedy had influenced me.

A few months later, I got a call from Mrs. LaWain. She had something in her shop she'd just gotten in and she wanted me to take a look at it that afternoon before anyone else had a chance to see it. I was busy, but I learned that you didn't say "No" to Mrs. LaWain. I put whatever I was doing aside and headed for her house.

She met me at the door and ushered me into her front room. "Jon," she said in her sweet little old lady voice, "I'd like you to meet Red Skelton."

There he was standing there extending his hand towards me. I sounded like a cross between Fred Flinstone and the guy doing the opening to "Blue Moon." I couldn't formulate words, let alone complete coherent sentences.

Mr. Skelton sat there and shared an hour with me, telling me stories and giving me advice on my career in magic (or at least as an entertainer). "Always pretend your grandmother is sitting in the front row," he said. "Don't do any jokes that would embarrass her." I've tried to always keep that in mind.

If you're still with me here, thanks. I just felt like sharing. Mrs. LaWain passed away about a year ago, and of course, we lost Red several years ago. It's just kind of neat that someone of their stature would take time out of their lives to share some thoughts with someone like me.
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Chrystal
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Hi Jongallagher,

Wow! What an amazing story and thanks for sharing it with us. Smile
Hideo Kato
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A nice story!

Taking Red Skelton's advice, we can substitute whoever we like for "Grandmother". In my case, it would be the Professor. I can always hear his voice "Hey Kato, be natural always". I can imagine his smiling face any time.

Hideo Kato
Bill Hallahan
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That's a great story, I like the advice Red Skelton gave you. I used to watch him on the Jacky Gleason show. I always liked his style. I was a young child, and my parents let me watch the show. Can you imagine letting a young child watch a variety show today?

Mrs. LaWain sounds like a great lady and a thoughtful friend.

Thanks for posting your story.
Humans make life so interesting. Do you know that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to create boredom. Quite astonishing.
- The character of ‘Death’ in the movie "Hogswatch"
markyeager
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Mrs. LaWain was a great friend. When I was in College in Macomb. She was located halfway between my home and the college that I was attending. It was only a short trip home so, I went home often. John Mendoza first introduced us. I remember the Sunday's we shared, I was going back to Western Illinois University after the weekend. The memories are still vivid today. I recently to the auction of her estate in Monmouth, Illinois. This was 20 years later. I was really mad at myself for not seeing her as much as I could. My friend Jay Marshall was there. I was shocked to see him at the sale. I bought a few items to remind me. Mrs. LaWain was the most interesting magic friend that I ever had. This is amazing because our ages were decades apart. We were just two people who loved magic. I'm glad to see someone who remembers her as much as I.
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Chrystal
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Mrs LeWain sounded like an amazing woman to be spoken of so highly even 20 yrs later! You guys were very lucky to have met someone like her.

For Red Skelton to take time on his probably busy shedule to meet with you says a lot too.
Dragona
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One thing that I will always remeber about Red Skelton was the penetrating sword trick he did. You know where he put the sword in the mark on the bottom of the box at a downward angle and the tip comes out the top at an upward angle? He was a funny guy, and for a guy of his celebrity to take time to talk with you, and Mrs. LaWain to introduce you, I envy you guy. Smile
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Steve Hart
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If you have not seen this bit with Red and magician John Calvert, you have to get a copy of this video.

This is an appearance that John made on Red's show. John saws Red in half with a very funny routine. Worth the price of the tape.

You can find this clip on John Calverts tribute video.

Steve Hart
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Snidini
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If you get a chance to see Tom Mullica's "Tribute to Red Skelton, by all means do so. I caught his act last year in Branson, Mo. and I he certainly does justice to a true comic legend. I hope to go back and catch his show again soon. Red was always a favorite of mine too and seeing Tom's show brings back fond memories.
BroDavid
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Wonderful story friend!

Red Skelton was truly one of the entertainment greats in all of history.

No matter what the medium, stage, TV, whatever, his comedic genius shined.

He had universal appeal. And the reason was obvious. Nobody would be the brunt of his jokes except him. But he could deliver a monster line at a moment's notice.

I grew up loving his inventive spontaneous humor and many characters. Who can forget Klem Kiddlehopper?

A good man. A great entertainer.

BroDavid
If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
markjens
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I grew up watching Red Skelton as well, and also reading of him in all of the weekly mags. You know, the ones that came with the Sunday paper and had titles like, "Live Ten Years Longer." There were many of these articles devoted to Red. Another of the reasons that he was so easy to watch was because you knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was a truly good man. And he was. While I never had an opportunity to meet him, I certainly spent enough time with him in my youth.
spatrick
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I also love listening to old radio shows starring Red. He was the first real character actor as he did no less than 4 different characters per half hour radio show. His genius should never be forgotten.


S. Patrick
daffydoug
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Red Skelton had something going for him that many performers today lack: Genuineness. He was a genuine warm person. And that warmth poured out of his performances. And that's not to mention his comic genius, his impeccable comedic timing, his excellent mime abilities, I could go on and on. But above all, he was a truly patriotic red blooded American. If you have ever heard his talk on the Pledge of Allegiance, you will know what I mean. Oh, and one last thing: He was from Indiana.(tada)

But I too remember watching Red's show on Teusday nights (How many of you remember that detail?) But on those nights I would be sent to bed before the show came on, and I remember sneaking out of my room, climbing halfway down the stairs, sitting on the stairs and looking through the stair rails while mom and dad watched the show, unaware of my presence, until I gave myself away by snickering at his antics.

"Two seagulls! Gertrude and Heathcliffe! (flap arms and make silly face) I remember it very clearly! What a master clown this man was!

Yes, he was dearly loved, and will always live in our hearts.

Good night Red, and may God bless!
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Shadow
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I too loved the funnyman Red. My grandfather used to insist that I come over to his house (he lived next door) to watch the show every week. I would lie on the floor in front of the TV and watch.

Red would always break me up, and I would just about die laughing. Grandpa later said one of his fondest memories was watching me watch Red.

He could make you laugh with just a look, I loved the way he sometimes cracked himself up and had trouble getting the joke out. These are reruns I’d stay up for...
daffydoug
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Ah, yes! What memories, what memories.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Dougini
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Jon,

Your story brought a tear to my eyes...I've met many celebrities, but the two I most wanted to meet were Red Skelton and Lucille Ball. I cannot imagine sitting with Red for five minutes, let alone an HOUR. Smile

You are one fortunate person. If that were me, it would have changed my life forever! I'm sure you'll cherish the memory forever.

I can't even think of anything...nope...nothing can top that...I have no stories to tell that come close...

Cheers!

Doug
Jon Gallagher
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I had almost forgotten I'd posted this story.

For my birthday last month, my wife got me several Red Skelton DVDs that they were selling at WalMart for some ridiculously low price. What memories!

"Gimme my hat, gimme my hat..."
"Two seaguls...."
"Goodnight, and may God Bless...."

When we met and I wasn't able to speak, Red looked over at Mrs. LaWain and said, "Doesn't talk much, does he?" I can still hear that in my head in his voice. And the thing that struck me most at the time was his height. I'm 6'2 and he was a little taller than me. I always thought from TV that he was shorter.

Well pardon me folks.... I've got a few more grammar things to fix here on the Café.... and then you all have talked me into another hour's worth of Red on DVD.

-Jon
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RandyStewart
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I've been known to pay people to make me laugh - comedy clubs. I'm not much of a "clown/comedian" but am still alive and happy because of them and our creator who put them in place. I love to laugh at a good joke or humorous performance. My cacklin' laugh has been imitated by friends, family, and guys at the bar. I really love a great comedian.

Red was a clown, student, and teacher of life who armed us with a very powerful tool:

"If some day you're not feeling well, you should remember some little thing I have said or done and if it brings a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart then my purpose as a clown has been fulfilled." -- Red Skelton

Those of us participating in this discussion have obviously followed and benefited from his advice.

Posted: Feb 20, 2004 1:41pm

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Quote:
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On 2004-02-18 22:09, Jon Gallagher wrote:
When we met and I wasn't able to speak, Red looked over at Mrs. LaWain and said, "Doesn't talk much, does he?" -Jon


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Even off stage he was a killer!

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Rob Johnston
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I remember watching Red years ago as a child. Even now I still remember what he said in one of his acts. He has had one of the biggest effects on my performance by explaining that he never uses the four letter words that offends so many. He taught me to have morales in my act. And I thank him for that.
"Genius is another word for magic, and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable." - Margot Fonteyn
daffydoug
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He was a sweet gentle man.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
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