A museum honoring an iconic Indiana-born comedian will open this afternoon. The celebration will include tours of the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy at Vincennes University, which features more than $4.5 million worth of memorabilia. July 17, 2013

News Release

VINCENNES, Ind. - Red Skelton fans from throughout the nation are coming to Vincennes on July 18 for the Grand Opening Celebration of the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy. The celebration and show comes on the 100th anniversary of Red's birthplace, within sight of the Museum and adjoining Red Skelton Performing Arts Center, at Vincennes University.

"Reservations have come in from people in 12 states including California, South Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Washington, Alabama. It proves once again that Red Skelton touched the lives of people throughout the nation through his 70 years in show business - a remarkable career that started right here in Vincennes," said Dr. Phillip M. Summers, chair of the Red Skelton Museum Foundation Board.

One of Red's close friends and fellow performers Jamie Farr, of "M*A*S*H" television show fame, is coming to Vincennes for the celebration. He will be joined on stage for a 7:30 p.m. "Birthday Celebration" show by Red Skelton impersonator Tom Mullica, musical guests Sally Harmon and Frank Gruner, Red’s widow Lothian Skelton, and Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

A fan of Skelton's radio show as a youngster, Farr credits Skelton with giving him his start in television. Farr was a regular on "The Red Skelton Show" for two seasons, one of America's top-rated and longest-running television shows. An accomplished television and Broadway actor, best known for his role as Corporal Klinger on M*A*S*H, Farr calls Skelton one his "all-time heroes."

The Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy will feature Skelton memorabilia donated by Lothian Skelton valued at more than $4.5 million, including original costumes and 200 original Skelton paintings.

The interactive exhibits include Skelton's famous characters, a biographical film in the museum theatre, a timeline of his life, and Red’s famous interpretation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Plans are already underway to continue to expand the Museum with exhibits of Skelton's career in Vaudeville, radio, television and the movies.

Even before it opens, the Skelton Museum is attracting national attention.

The Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor has announced it has selected Vincennes for its 2014 National Conference because of the Skelton Museum. The conference is expected to bring 200 to 300 professionals to the southern Indiana community.

The "Red Skelton Show" was broadcast on television from 1951 to 1971 - the second longest entertainment program in network television history - and earned Skelton three Emmy Awards. A prolific artist, writer, musical composer, and movie actor who performed to sell-out stage audiences nationwide, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded Skelton its Governor's Award for lifetime achievement in 1986.

GRAND OPENING CELEBRATION

The Grand Opening Celebration will include:

3:30 PM News Conference

5:30 PM Special Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies

6:00 PM Museum opens for tours until 10:00 PM (except during the show).

6:00 PM-VIP ticket holder Cocktail reception with Lothian Skelton that includes appetizers and wine

7:00 PM Theatre doors open for seating.

7:30 PM- Birthday Celebration show begins in the Red Skelton Theatre, featuring actor Jamie Farr, Red Skelton impersonator Tom Mullica, musical guests Sally Harmon and Frank Gruner, and Lothian Skelton

8:30 PM- Dessert reception on the outside circle patio

8:30 PM- Museum tours continue until 10:00 PM

There are three ticket prices:

$100 - VIP includes reception, commemorative pin, premier seating, dessert reception after the show, and self-guided tours of the museum throughout the evening

$50 – Patron includes commemorative pin, priority seating, dessert reception after the show, and self-guided tours of the museum throughout the evening

$30 – General Admission includes general seating, dessert reception after the show, and self-guided tours of the museum throughout the evening

The Grand Opening weekend also includes a Senior Day on July 19 with free entrance to the Museum for anyone over 60 years of age. The day will include the opportunity to be part of a video blog of "Red Skelton Stories" that will be added to the collection.

July 20 will be Family Day with free entrance for persons 18 and under when accompanied by a parent. There will be special hands-on activities about comedy, humor and laughter.

For more information contact apratt@vinu.edu, or call 812-888-2105, or visit the web site www.redskeltonmuseum.org

Source: Vincennes University