Friday, July 18, 2014
Richard Bernard “Red” Skelton came to be on July 18, 1913. This comedy genius made performing a part of his early years. If anything could be said suggest what began Skelton’s interest in performing it would have been his newspaper hawking days as a young boy. Red liked to patter off his “papers for sale” repeatedly until someone came by to buy his tabloid. He was a classic buffoon inspired by his teens spent as a circus clown. By way of vaudeville and the stage, Skelton continued his artistry for undermining the ticket bone of Americans due his sixth sense for timing and ad-lib. As he grew, many of character creations (like Freddy the Freeloader) would make-up much of Skelton’s anthology of comic performance. Red Skelton made his appearance nationwide in films in 1932 when he came to Hollywood. After a couple of films, he made his entrance into radio 1937. he was such a hit from his first appearance on the Rudy Vallee Show, that he was asked to come back twice more to perform. Later he would host Avalon Time for NBC. By 1941 he was hosting a regular program on-air, The Raleigh Cigarettes Program; which had Ozzie Nelson and his band as the music accompaniment. Characters, such as Clem Kadiddlehopper and Junior, The Mean Widdle Kid, made their debut on this program. after a tour of duty during WWII, Skelton came back and did radio for a couple more years. He later performed on television and as a guest on a number of variety program. Red Skelton passed away in 1997 at the age of 84. With that passing went many of the memorable characters and laughs that only Red Skelton could convey.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Bandleader, radio star, TV star, holder of a law degree, paradigm for generations of fathers, Ozzie Nelson did just about everything. We know he'd become grandfather to the awful early-90's rock duo Nelson (Gunnar and Matthew of the long white hair), but we can't hold that against one of the godfathers of classic radio.
Today's birthday boy was an Eagle Scout and high school football player in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. During this time he developed his music chops and became a teen bandleader. He formed the Ozzie Nelson Band, which beat out Paul Whiteman's orchestra in a 1930 New York Daily Mirror poll.
The man who married Harriet Hilliard in 1935 was already a successful recording artist, not necessarily figuring to become essentially a metaphor for domesticity. But the two of them put on a family-oriented radio show, and then the TV show with its cardigans that would characterize him as safe and paternal.
A hallmark of a good father, in a lot of people's minds, is successful offspring, and Ricky Nelson did just fine as a chart-topping pop-rocker.
Happy birthday to Oswald Nelson, oldtime radio legend.