Red Skelton

The Pledge of Allegiance
1969


Richard Bernard "Red" Skelton Was born on July 18, 1913, in Vincennes, Indiana, Skelton was the son of a Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus clown named Joe who died in 1913 shortly before the birth of his son. Skelton himself got one of his earliest tastes of show business with the same circus as a teenager. Before that, however, he had been given the show business bug at age ten by entertainer Ed Wynn, who spotted him selling newspapers in front of the Pantheon Theatre, in Vincennes, Indiana, trying to help his family. After buying every newspaper in Skelton's stock, Wynn took the boy backstage and introduced him to every member of the show with which he was traveling. By age 15, Skelton had hit the road full-time as an entertainer, working everywhere from medicine shows and vaudeville to burlesque, showboats, minstrel shows and circuses. In 2002 during the controversy of the phrase "Under God" in the US Pledge of Allegiance, a recording of a monologue he performed on his 1969 television show resurfaced. In the speech, he commented on what each line of the pledge symbolizes. At the end, he commented that "Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer and that would be eliminated from schools too?" With the pledge under attack as being "religious", he suddenly regained popularity among those who opposed the lawsuit. Red Skelton died in a hospital in Palm Springs, California of pneumonia on September 17, 1997. At the time of his death, he lived in Anza, California. He is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
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