Red Skelton Show, The

Tickets to TV tapings are free, of course. But they could have made a fortune charging to see Red Skelton rehearse; that is, if they raised the minimum age to 21. As I explained in this article, Mr. Skelton’s dress rehearsals consisted of ignoring that week’s scripts and telling dirty jokes to the crew and a contingent of CBS secretaries and employees who filled the audience. And here are the key questions: If you were the maker of Pet Evaporated Milk, would you really want to publicize that you also made Johnson’s Wax? Just how do you benefit from connecting those two products in the minds of the American public? And what the heck ever happened to Brian Donlevy?

There’s some odd terminology on two of the above tickets. Skelton, when he did his show at CBS, would do a “preview” performance on Monday night for a live audience — not to be confused with his ribald dress rehearsals, for which there were no tickets. Then the script would be revised and rehearsed for a Tuesday evening taping. But in most cases, a ticket that says “a special preview” is a ticket to watch a tape or film of a show that was shot without a live audience. Some shows have done that — shot without the public present, then brought an audience in, shown them the program and recorded their laughter and applause to dub into the show. That doesn’t seem to have been the case with the second and third tickets above, especially the one that says “preview performance.” Both were probably tickets to watch Red Skelton and his guests do the entire show live…but they don’t look it.