Dick Van Dyke to be honored at annual Red Skelton festival in Vincennes

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("Dick Van Dyke on the Walk of Fame" by Neil Willsey, CC BY-SA 2.0)

VINCENNES, Ind. (AP) – An annual festival that toasts comedian Red Skelton’s life will honor Dick Van Dyke this summer with its inaugural “America’s Clown Award.”

Red Skelton Festival spokesman Roger Neal says the 91-year-old screen and television star won’t attend the July 15 presentation in Skelton’s hometown of Vincennes, Indiana.

But he says a video-acceptance speech from Van Dyke, who grew up in Danville, Illinois, will be played for festival-goers.

Anne Pratt is executive director of the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy. She says Van Dyke’s “comedic body of work and the joy he has brought to so many over the years” embodies Skelton’s spirit.

Skelton, who died in 1997 at age 84, had a big impact on early television with characters such as Freddie the Freeloader on “The Red Skelton Show.”

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