Richest CelebritiesRichest Comedians
Net Worth:
$16 Million
Jul 18, 1913 - Sep 17, 1997 (84 years old)
6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Clown, Screenwriter, Actor, Television Producer, Entertainer, Comedian, Radio personality
United States of America
💰 Compare Red Skelton's Net Worth

What was Red Skelton's Net Worth?

Red Skelton was an American entertainer who had a net worth of $16 million at the time of his death. That's equal to $30 million in today's dollars after adjusting for inflation. Red Skelton deid on September 17, 1997 at the age of 84. Red Skelton is best known for his popular radio and television programs between 1937 and 1971. He also appeared in numerous films, including "Having Wonderful Time," "I Dood It," "The Show-Off," "A Southern Yankee," and "The Clown." In addition to performing, Skelton had a successful career as an artist making and selling paintings and lithographic prints of clowns.

Early Life

Red Skelton was born as Richard Skelton on July 18, 1913 in Vincennes, Indiana to his mother Ida; his father, Joseph, passed away two months earlier. He had three older brothers named Denny, Christopher, and Paul. Due to the loss of his father, Skelton began working at an early age to help support his family. Among his odd jobs, he sold newspapers. Realizing he had a knack for comedy and performing, Skelton eventually dropped out of school and worked on a showboat. He later joined the burlesque circuit and toured with a traveling medicine show. In the early 1930s, Skelton became a master of ceremonies for dance marathons.


After marrying writer Edna Stillwell in 1931, Skelton and his wife created a vaudeville act and started performing at small theaters in the Midwest. They eventually made their way east, performing in Camden, New Jersey before landing gigs in New York City and Montreal. At Loew's State Theatre in New York, Skelton and Stillwell debuted their popular "Doughnut Dunkers" pantomime routine. The routine attracted the attention of President Roosevelt, who appointed Skelton as the master of ceremonies for his official birthday celebrations at the White House.

Radio Career

Skelton began his radio career with a guest appearance on "The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour" in 1937. Due to the popularity of his appearance, he became the new host of the program "Avalon Time" the next year, replacing Red Foley. In 1941, Skelton launched his own radio show, "The Raleigh Cigarette Program." On the show, he introduced his character Junior, a mischievous young boy whose catchphrase was the admission of guilt: "I dood it!" Enormously popular, "The Raleigh Cigarette Program" originally ran until mid-1944 when Skelton was formally inducted as a private in the US Army. After he was assigned to the Special Services, he performed several shows per day for troops in both the US and Europe. Released in September of 1945, Skelton resumed his radio show on NBC.


Television Career

In the spring of 1951, Skelton signed a television contract with NBC, and went on to launch the comedy variety program "The Red Skelton Show" later that year. The show ran on NBC until the spring of 1953, when it was canceled amid declining ratings; it then moved to CBS, where it remained until 1970. In 1962, the program was extended to a full hour and renamed "The Red Skelton Hour." Although Skelton's show had been among the highest-rated shows on the air, it was canceled a second time in 1970 when networks were systematically discontinuing long-running programs considered to be outdated. After that, Skelton moved back to NBC, where he did the half-hour version of his show for one season before it was canceled for good in 1971.

Film Career

Skelton made his big-screen debut in 1938 with a supporting role in the RKO romantic comedy "Having Wonderful Time." In the 1940s, he appeared in a plethora of films for MGM, including "Flight Command"; "Dr. Kildare's Wedding Day"; "Whistling in the Dark"; "Lady Be Good"; "Ship Ahoy"; "I Dood It"; "Bathing Beauty"; "A Southern Yankee"; and "Neptune's Daughter." Skelton's credits in the 1950s included "Excuse My Dust," "Texas Carnival," "The Clown," and "The Great Diamond Robbery." His last major film role was in the 1957 comedy "Public Pigeon No. 1," although he later had brief roles in "Ocean's 11" and "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines."

Other Activities

Beyond performing, Skelton created and sold artwork. He was especially renowned for his oil paintings of clowns, which he would reproduce as lithographic prints that would earn him around $2.5 million every year in sales. After Skelton passed away, his art dealer stated that he believed Skelton made more money from his paintings than he did from his work on television.

Among his other activities, Skelton frequently wrote short stories and composed music. He allegedly wrote at least one short story every week, and composed over 8,000 songs and symphonies by the time of his passing. Skelton sold many of his compositions to the background music company Muzak. In other interests, he was an avid photographer and gardener, and was a longtime Freemason as a member of both the Scottish and York Rites.

Late Career

After he left the airwaves, Skelton focused most of his efforts on live performing. He did up to 125 dates a year in nightclubs, casinos, and other venues, and continued performing live until his 80th birthday in 1993. Skelton also made some appearances on television specials, including HBO's "Freddie the Freeloader's Christmas Dinner." He won numerous honors for his long career, including the Cecil B. DeMille Award, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Governor's Award, and the Screen Actors Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1994, Skelton was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

Marriages and Family

Skelton was married three times. He married his first wife, Edna Stillwell, in 1931; they had met when she won a dance marathon Skelton was emceeing. The pair collaborated on comedy routines throughout the 1930s, and eventually divorced in 1943. Afterward, Stillwell remained a career advisor for Skelton until 1952. Meanwhile, Skelton was briefly engaged to actress Muriel Morris in 1944. He wed his second wife, actress Georgia Davis, in 1945; they had two children named Valentina and Richard. The latter was diagnosed with leukemia when he was nine, and passed away in 1958. Further tragedy befell Skelton in 1976 when Davis fatally shot herself on the anniversary of Richard's death. Skelton married his third and final wife, Lothian Toland, in 1973; they remained together until Skelton's passing.

Death and Legacy

On September 17, 1997, Skelton passed away from pneumonia in Rancho Mirage, California. He was 84 years of age. His widow donated many of his personal and professional effects to Vincennes University in his hometown. In August 2023 Lothian pledged $4 million to the university to build an art gallery to be named in his honor.

Skelton's legacy continues on in his extensive body of work, as well as through the many generations of entertainers he has inspired. In early 2006, the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center was dedicated on the campus of Vincennes University, and in 2013, the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy opened next-door. Meanwhile, the town of Vincennes holds the annual Red Skelton Festival featuring family activities, live music performances, and the largest clown parade in the Midwest, the "Parade of a Thousand Clowns."

Rancho Mirage Estate

In 1986 Red and his wife Lothian bought a 602-acre ranch near Rancho Mirage, California. The property features a 10-car garage, a 10,000 square foot main house, multiple guest structures, barns, stables and much, much more. Red's widow attempted to sell the ranch in 2015 for $9.5 million. She reduced the price several times before taking it off the market in 2020, by which time the price was $4 million.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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