Pop Quiz: What was “Red Skelton” – the famous American entertainer – best known for?
- A: Stand-up comedy.
- B: Performing for T.V. and Radio.
- C: Being an actual clown.
- D: Juggling an art career on top of his day job.
The answer? E: All of the above. Of course, if you’re one of our readers who grew up with The Red Skelton Show from the 50s to the 70s, you already knew that. Richard “Red” Skelton was a uniquely successful jack-of-all-trades over the course of his 70 year career, and Gemr user rossthaboss’ original Red Skelton “Holly Clown” painting shines a light on just how talented this renaissance man was.
Welcome to Staff Picks: A closer look at the most awe-inspiring collectibles in the Gemr community.
In isolation, Holly Clown is a fairly distinctive piece. The empty blue eyes, the seemingly forced smile, and the abundance of white makeup evokes a vague sense of melancholy from this unassuming clown. In actuality, Holly Clown is merely one of numerous clown paintings Red created during his life. Heck, he drew so many clowns that he had names for certain characters that would continuously reappear in his work! When asked why he painted so many clowns through the years, Red once explained “I don’t know why it’s always clowns… No, that’s not true- I do know why. I just don’t like thinking about it.”
While the exact meaning of this statement is up for interpretation, we can look into Red’s history and find where the man and his work may connect.
As mentioned before, Red Skelton was a bonifide clown. So was Red’s father, who had passed away before Red was born. Red had become an accomplished actor in vaudeville and circuses by the age of 15, but even as his career evolved into radio and television later on, he always wanted to be labeled as a “clown.” As Red himself said, “I just want to be known as a clown because to me that’s the height of my profession. It means you can do everything – sing, dance, and above all, make people laugh.” Even as he played the happy-go-lucky entertainer on the stage and screen, his personal life wasn’t always full of laughs. Most notably, Red’s son Richard lost his battle with Leukemia in 1948 at only 9 years old; a tragedy from which no parent ever fully recovers. Red would resume his career and even star in new shows – including the two decades of The Red Skelton Show starting in 1951 – but his life would never be the same from that point onward.
Does this mean, then, that this 1947 painting might have been connected with Red’s personal life at the time? It’s possible, but your guess is as good as ours. What we can say, however, is that Red’s turmoil throughout his life is palpable, even if it was bubbling beneath the surface.
That, of course, is a brief snapshot of a life that was teeming with twists and excitement, and we have not the time nor space to give Red the credit that he deserves.
This Holly Clown painting is a “lithographic reproduction” of Red’s original, and it boasts both a reproduced signature and a hand-signed signature from Red himself. Rossthaboss is looking to sell this 20” by 16” piece, listing its condition as “excellent.” Whether you’re an interested buyer or a curious onlooker, you can click here to check out the painting as well as rossthaboss’ other collectibles.
Holly Clown is one of many items collectors are selling on the Gemr marketplace. To see other art collectibles click here. Remember, if you know more about this painting, Red’s work in general, or any other items you see on Gemr, we invite you to leave a comment and share your expertise with our community!
We hope this brief look at Red’s legacy was informative to our younger readers, and for our older readers, we hope highlighting this piece might have inspired at least a fleeting moment of nostalgia. Though Red himself has passed on, his impact on the world through his art and his comedy remains poignant. It’s for these reasons that we’ve given Skelton the Red carpet treatment with today’s Staff Pick.