Thursday, June 13, 2013

Famous Freemason: The Great Red Skelton

"All men make mistakes, but married men 
find out about them sooner."

~ Red Skelton
Vincennes Lodge No. 1, Indiana

Red Skelton was introduced to show business at the age of seven when he met Ed Wynn at a vaudeville show in Vincennes. At age 10, he left home to travel with a medicine show through the Midwest, later joining the vaudeville circuit. He married Edna Marie Stilwell, at age 17.  She was an usher who became his vaudeville partner and even after they divorced, she continued to act as his manager.

He debuted on Broadway and radio in 1937 and on film the following year. His wife/manager negotiated a seven-year Hollywood contract for him in 1951, the same year "The Red Skelton Hour" (1951) premiered on NBC. For two decades, until 1971, his show consistently stayed in the top twenty.  His comedic characters, including Clem Kaddiddlehopper, George Appleby, and the seagulls Gertrude and Heathcliffe were audience favorites for decades.

First and foremost, he considered himself a clown, and his paintings of clowns were highly sought after after he left television. But his home life was not completely happy--he went through two divorces and lost a son, Richard, to leukemia at age nine. He continued performing live until illness prevented him from doing so.  He was a longtime supporter of children's charities.  He passed away in 1997.

 Red Skelton became a Mason in Vincennes Lodge No. 1, Vincennes, Indiana, in 1939.   He also was a member of both the Scottish and York Rite. He was the recipient of the General Grand Chapter’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Service in the Arts and Sciences.

On September 24, 1969, he received the highest honor in the Scottish Rite when he was coroneted an Inspector General Honorary 33°. He was also a Shriner at the Al Malaikah Shrine Temple in Los Angeles, California.


 Todd E. Creason is an author and novelist whose work includes the award-winning non-fiction historical series Famous American Freemasons and the novels One Last Shot (2011) and A Shot After Midnight (2012). He's currently working on the third novel expected to be released in 2014. All of Todd E. Creason's books are sold at major online booksellers like and Barnes & Noble and are available for both Nook and Kindle.


  1. I have been a Freemason for over thirty- five years.
    I am a lifelong Red Skelton fan and am proud to know he was a member of the Masonic Fraternity.
    Alex B. Smuckler
    Past Master of St. George's Lodge No. 6 F&A.M.
    Schenectady. Sovereign Prince of the Valley of Schenectady ,NY. Nobel of the Oriental Shrine.

    1. He's one of my favorites, too. I wrote about him in Famous American Freemasons: Volume II. He did a benefit show in Danville, IL not long before he passed away to raise money to save a local theater, and I got to see him perform. Great man.


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