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Red Skelton Was a Good Guy, Says Corporal Klinger

“What a thrill! I was 19 or 20 years old and I’d grown up listening to Red Skelton’s show on a crystal set under the covers… He was such a big hero to me, and I was cast as his sidekick.”

The late Sherwood Schwartz may not have loved Red Skelton, but Jamie Farr thought he was aces.

Schwartz wrote for Skelton but didn’t like him much. In interviews he said Skelton was “about five years old emotionally” and added, “Every time he opens his mouth he says terrible things about writers… Always, he insults writers every place he goes, on talk shows, wherever.”

But! Farr says different.

Before he was Corporal Klinger on the TV show M*A*S*H, Farr was a co-star on The Red Skelton Show — plucked out of obscurity for that role by none other than Sherwood Schwartz, in fact.

Here’s Farr telling the story in A Hand to Guide Me, a 2006 collection (by Denzel Washington!) of stars’ stories about their mentors:

“It was unbelievable. I was like a kid in a candy store, but the real treat of course was working with Red Skelton.

Every day with him was an education. He taught me how to deal with people, how to be respectful of people, how to be respectful of the business. Red was someone who really loved and respected show business… He was just a kind, wonderful, man, a holdover from another era, and I was lucky to be able to learn from him.”

Farr even calls Skelton “like a second father to me.”

So there you go. There are two sides to every story, and even room in this world for two Red Skeltons.

Here’s the full text of Farr’s comments, via Google Books:

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