Freddie and the Spies, The Red Skelton Show with Richard Deacon and Edward Everett Horton, season 8, originally aired January 13, 1959
In Freddie and the Spies, a desperate scientist (Richard Deacon) has Freddie the Freeloader (Red Skelton) hide his discovery to keep it from spies. Freddie has to hide it from his friend (Edward Everett Horton) as well!
- Stage hand comes on to hand Red a telegram, and mistakenly calls him “Mr. Skeleton”. As Red opens the telegram, he comments, “Now that shows you how you can get excited reading lines, you know. You get everything mixed up.” [starts reading telegram] “Blub blub blub ska blub …” [turns the telegram upside-right and starts reading]
- The telegram is about Red’s upcoming trip to the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. He will be entertaining there, as well as filming next week’s show. It tells him to bring his various gear, and not to worry about the cost. As he mentions each item — bathing suit, golf clubs, tennis racket, water skis — beautiful girls walk by, each carrying one of the items. “That silly boy, he didn’t think I was going to carry that stuff myself.”
- [About the Fontainebleau Hotel]. This is the biggest hotel in the world, believe me. This is the first hotel that I’ve ever seen … I’ve played towns smaller. From your bed to the bathroom, they’ve got Burma Shave signs. When you want a bellboy, you send up a flare. You don’t tip, you buy annuities. And on the towels, being a southern state, see, they don’t have towels marked ‘His’ and ‘Hers’. They have one big towel marked ‘You All’.
- While I’m down there, I’m going down to Cape Canaveral. I thought maybe I’d give you a report on what’s happening to your money going up.
- Have you noticed since the rocked have become the vogue now, I mean everyone trying to get a rocket in the air? Now they get them to talk back, you see. Any day now, we’ll send one up as it goes over other countries, every half hour it says, “You need any money? Need any money?”
Red mimes a grandson playing with his new chemistry set while his grandfather naps. And the grandson wants to create an atomic rocket!
Freddie and the Spies Act I
Freddie and the Spies begins with Freddie returning from shopping in the dump. He’s locked himself out of his shack, but “where there’s a will, there’s a way!” Once inside, he starts going through his groceries. He throws out a bad egg, and it explodes with smoke – a funny moment as Freddie tries to close the window of the shack, and blow away the smoke with his hat. Demonstrating that there’s no glass in the windows!
Professor Munson (Richard Deacon) bursts in, and asks Freddie to hide his invention from the spies that are chasing him. And don’t look in the box! With that, he dashes out. A moment later, the spies dash in. But Freddie feigns ignorance, and they leave. For the moment.
A fellow hobo, Sir Alfred Hanger-on (Edward Everett Horton) chooses that moment to visit. He’s seen Freddie hiding the mystery box, and asks what’s in it. It’s a very funny moment, as the two comic clowns go back and forth. Freddie, ever the gracious host, invites him to say overnight in the “Murphy bed”.
Freddie and the Spies Act II
The next day, Freddie’s alarm clock goes off, and the hobos wake up. “What time is it?” “Tuesday!” Alfred is still trying to find out the secret of the mystery box. He comes back in disguise, with a patently fake beard, that he claims is one of Jack Benny’s old toupees that he found on a trash can. “Jack Benny doesn’t wear a toupee!” “He’s not cheap, either, but it gets a laugh.” Alfred leaves for a moment, and a lovely female spy (Vici Raaf) comes in, to try and entice Freddie. It’s a funny scene, that I remember fondly decades after having first seen it. “Good heavens, it’s still warm!” She invites Freddie to come by for a drink and leaves.
Freddie and the Spies Act III
At her apartment, her fellow spies are hiding. They’re waiting for an opportune moment to beat up Freddie and take the box, of course. They comedically miss. But then, one of the funniest things ever, happens. The male spy (Peter Mamakos) is hiding behind a room divider. Which moves around the room as Freddie moves. Freddie’s no fool, and he quickly realizes it. And keeps getting bopped on the head! It’s a hilarious bit.
No sooner is Freddie knocked out, that Professor Munson bursts in, with FBI agents! It turns out that he’s been FBI Agent Munsen the whole time. And the “invention” has been a red herring. Literally!
- Freddie: I’m taking a bath Sir Alfred: This I’ve got to see!
- Freddie: Peas! One, two, three, four, five, six … Oh, I do believe I’ve died and gone to heaven!
- Good heavens, it’s still warm!
- Red Skelton … Self – Host / Freddie the Freeloader
- Richard Deacon (The Dick Van Dyke Show, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy) … Prof. Phineas T. Munson
- Edward Everett Horton (Holiday, Thank Your Lucky Stars) … Sir Alfred Hangeron
- Peter Mamakos (Merry Andrew, Batman) … Gotfried – Spy
- Vici Raaf … (The Yellow Canary, He Ran All the Way) Tania – Spy
- Freddie and the Spies is also known as Munson’s Red Herring
- A “red herring” is something that misleads or distracts. At the conclusion, it becomes a double entendre, since there’s a literal red herring as well.
- Burma Shave was a brand of shaving cream, famous for putting up a series of billboard signs along the highway, to make a rhyming advertisement. One example: On winding roads … And steep inclines … Please watch the road … And not the signs! … Burma Shave