COMEDIAN RED SKELTON
SEPTEMBER 17, 1997
The NewsHour looks back at Red Skelton, whose goal was to bring a "smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart."
JIM LEHRER: Tonight, Red Skelton. The famous comedian died today in California, after a long illness. Here's a sample of his work--a 1983 performance in London before Queen Elizabeth, among others.
RED SKELTON: I've got a joke for you. Now I write a lot of children's books. And two of my characters that are quite famous are Gertrude and Heathcliff, the two seagulls. (applause) Thank you very much, both of you. (laughter among audience) They're flying--she says, "Did you hear what happened to Willie the Duck?". He says, "No." That's the way they talk. "No." "What happened to Willie the Duck?". Says, "He flew upside down and quacked up." (laughter)
Did you ever have things bother you and you can't get 'em off your mind? It just came to me now. People in hell, where do they tell people to go? (laughter among audience) Pour a little into your glass. (Holding bottle) I'll get rid of it somehow. Pour a little into your glass. What's the matter? It's cold. Don't get me to laughing, dear heart, you'll never get out of here. (laughter among audience, followed by music in background) My allotted time has expired. I got that off my insurance policy. (laughter among audience)
I sincerely hope that you had as much fun as I had. It's a lot of fun to try and make people laugh, and it's a lot of fun and reward to hear laughter without the use of four-letter words. I--(resounding applause)--but I would like to thank you for inviting me here. And, like I say, I hope you had fun.
I personally believe that each and every one of us was put here for a purpose, and that's to build and not to destroy. And if by chance some day you're not feeling well, you should remember some silly little thing that I've said or done, and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose as the clown has been fulfilled.
JIM LEHRER: Red Skelton was 84 years old.