"Freddie the Freeloader" Painting by Red Skelton, Gifted to Emmett Kelly
Two legendary performers combine to make this painting truly one-of-a-kind. The image is of "Freddie the Freeloader," a character of Red Skelton's modeled after his father, and was painted by Skelton himself as a gift to Emmett Kelly, an iconic clown of the mid-20th century. Skelton dabbled in several mediums during his prodigious career. He started performing at the age of 10 in a traveling medicine show, rose to prominence as a radio personality, then became a movie and television star, but at the time of his death his art dealer estimated that he accumulated most of his wealth through his artwork, which primarily dealt with clowns. Skelton debuted his Freddie the Freeloader character in 1952 on the Red Skelton Show. Freddie bears a striking resemblance to Emmett Kelly's most famous character, "Weary Willie," but their physical likeness is where the similarities end. Whereas Willie was a downtrodden, pitiable character, Freddie was perpetually upbeat despite his humble surroundings. The painting brilliantly captures Freddie's essence, as he is shown with bright, wide eyes, seeming to suggest that good fortune awaits him right around the corner. It is beautifully complemented by a 12x14" frame that provides the perfect accent to the color scheme of the 8x10" canvas painting. It is signed "Red Skelton 76" on the front lower right corner. Skelton also wrote Kelly a note on the back, reading "To The Kellys, Our dear friends with love and respect always, Red Skelton & Lothian." It is also dated "1976" and "No. 4" on the back. The painting sources straight from Kelly's family and is an incomparable piece of Americana.