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Sheriff Deadeye – Red Skelton’s cowboy character

Sheriff Deadeye, Red Skelton's western character

Deadeye was one of Red Skelton‘s characters that made the transition from his radio show to television. He was often Sheriff Deadeye, depending on the script. But, more often than not, he’d just gotten out of jail himself.

Sheriff Deadeye

“Say, Deadeye, I haven’t seen you around these parts for about six months. What you been doing?”

(playing to the audience, with a comment to the effect, I may be corny, but I’m not that corny) “About six months.”

Deadeye - Red Skelton's cowboy character

In addition to a cowboy outfit, Deadeye wore a large mustache. A prop that occasionally gave Red trouble, as the glue would give out on occasion under the hot TV lights.

“I shoulda been wearing spaghetti instead — I could’ve eaten that!”

There were certain bits that Deadeye would repeat, including:

  • Wearing only 1 spur — “I reckon if I get one half of the horse going, the other’ll have to catch up!”
  • Wearing 2 spurs, only to get them caught on each other and having to hop across the stage
  • Using his Southern accent to comedic effect. For example in the Skeltons at Home episode, where several of Red’s characters make a Christmas visit, Deadeye brings a you-all (yule) log.
  • Running into a romantic rival for an old flame, only to shoot/kill/humiliate them. Typically by cheating.
  • Playing cards … not always honestly.
  • Reference to popular Westerns of the time, such as High Noon. Sitting in a saloon, Deadeye hears someone walking down the street. He runs into the swinging saloon doors (literally) and a cowboy on stilts walks by as he shouts, “High Noon!” … And reminds him about the basketball game later!