The Christmas Spirit – The Red Skelton Hour season 16, with Greer Garson. Originally aired December 20, 1966
The Christmas Spirit – can Freddie the Freeloader put on his annual Christmas benefit for the orphans with Greer Garson? Or will the villains shut down her theater?
The Christmas Spirit – Freddie the Freeloader goes downtown
The Christmas Spirit begins with Freddie the Freeloader’s coming downtown to talk to his friend, Greer Garson. On the way, he wants to donate money to a charity, but he’s penniless. So, he breaks a lifetime rule and works for money, sweeping snow off the sidewalk in front of one store. Then for a second store, pushing the snow in front of the first store! And slipping on the ice both times. But, he makes a little bit of money, and gives it to the charity. As a thank-you, the lady gives him a large candy cane – which gets him in trouble. There’s some slapstick as the hook of the cane accidentally takes the bag of an overweight shopper, and she makes a citizen’s arrest! Despite Police Officer Kellogg vouching for Freddie, she insists. And there’s a tug of war between them, with Freddie caught in the middle. And while they’re fighting, Greer leaves in her car. So, Freddie decides to talk with her manager.
The Christmas Spirit – Mr. Black’s Office
Greer’s manager, Mr. Black, is in his office, evicting someone on Christmas for not paying her rent on time — his own mother! He goes out to get more tranquilizers, while Freddie comes in. The secretary remembers Freddie kindly, and tells him to wait inside his office. While there, he helps himself to two of his cigars. Two handfuls that is. While he’s waiting, he has an imaginary conversion with him, about using the theater again this year for the benefit show with the orphans. The manager comes in just as he’s making a joke about the manager — who tosses Freddie out!
According to the secretary, Mr. Black’s become a nervous wreck over the last year, with the thought of Green Garson losing the theater. He comes through, unaware that he’s hitting Freddie with the door, to go to an appointment with the lawyers — giving Freddie the Freeloader an idea …
At the law office
Freddie follows him to the law firm, where he eavesdrops on the meeting, looking into the meeting at the library through a fishbowl. It turns out that if Greer doesn’t hold a performance at the old theater by Christmas, the building will be sold and torn down! And Mr. Black’s in on the deal:
“If I’m telling a lie, may the walls fall in on me.”
And with Freddie the Freeloader’s sneeze, the bookshelves fall over and do exactly that!
Greer Garson’s mansion
Freddie the Freeloader goes to Greer Garson’s home, to warn her about the theater. After coming in through the window, he and Greer are chatting by the fire, when photographers show up. While she’s being photographed … Freddie’s tossed out by his butler! Greer knows that Freddie wanted to tell her something, but doesn’t know what. So she decides to make herself up as the elderly flower lady, and visit him at his home in the city dump.
At the Dump
Greer Garson, disguises as the elderly flower lady, visits Freddie at his shack in the dump. Over some “Mulligan Stew Ala swiped”, Freddie reveals what’s going on to her — unaware that she’s actually Greer. How can Greer put on a benefit for the Navy, at the same time as the Christmas benefit for the orphans? By having her society friends buy all the tickets, and donate the money to the orphans, freeing her up for the hobos’ annual Christmas show, of course.
At the Theater
The villains haven’t quite given up, however. Mr. Black’s called the fire captain, and the theater’s been oversold. 100 Navy sailors are standing in the aisle — a fire violation. Once the villains leave, however, Freddie has the solution. He has the sailors all come on stage, to be part of the performance. It’s The Recruit Bluejacket Choir – all 100 of them. As Freddie says, that’s 10 less than the King Family. After their song, Freddie comes on stage to perform a pantomime, the little boy and the balloon. Next, Greer Garson does a sketch with a newspaper boy on Christmas Eve, talking about spiritual gifts at Christmastime. Freddie and Greer perform “Doing Our Song and Dance.”
At Freddie’s Shack
Back at his shack, Freddie says goodbye to his pal, Muggsy, who was the emcee for the show. The hungry Freddie’s in for a surprise inside his shack, as Greer is there with her butler, where she’s got a surprise after-show snack for them — Freddie’s Mulligan Stew. “The heavies” come in – Mr. Black, Sybil, and Thorndyke, who’ve come to apologize, having caught the true spirit of Christmas at the show. And so the episode ends, with Freddie the Freeloader and Greer Garson toasting themselves, and the audience:
“Merry Christmas, everyone. And may God bless.”
Officer Kellog: My friend Freddie the Freeloader may be a lazy, good for nothing tramp, but he’s an honest lazy, good for nothing tramp!
Secretary: Freddie, what happened? I thought Mr. Black liked you!
Freddie the Freeloader: I’ve got a footprint that says different! You’ll have to take my word for it, I can’t show you.
Flower Lady / Greer Garson: Freddie’s either cooking, or his shack’s on fire. He could get himself arrested for fragrancy.
Freddie the Freeloader: It’s the maid’s year off.
Flower Lady/Greer Garson: There must be a way to make everybody happy.
Freddie the Freeloader: Republicans and Democrats have been trying that for years.
- Red and Greer Garson sing and dance to “Taking a Chance on Love.”
- Greer Garson sings “Good King Wenceslaus” while wrapping Christmas presents.
- The 100-voice Recruit Bluejacket Choir from US Naval Training Center, San Diego, California, sings a medley of Yuletide carols, including Red’s own composition, “The Night Before Christmas.”
- An instrumental version of Red’s song, Little Boy, is played during Freddie’s Little Boy and the balloon pantomime.
- This was the third consecutive year that Greer Garson appeared on the Skelton Christmas program, but this is a sequel skit to the previous two holiday programs.
Cast of characters
- Red Skelton … Self – Host / Freddie the Freeloader
- Louise Arthur (Juvenile Jungle) … Charity worker with kettle (?)
- Jan Arvan (20 Million Miles to Earth) … Muggsy – Hobo
- Todd Baron
- Richard Clair
- David Rose and His Orchestra … Themselves
- Ross Ford (The Fuller Brush Man; Blondie’s Reward) … Fire Captain
- Greer Garson (Mrs. Miniver; Goodbye, Mr. Chips) … Self / Flower Lady
- Art Gilmore … Announcer (voice)
- Nora Hayden (The Angry Red Planet) … Mr. Black’s secretary
- Thomas Browne Henry (Earth vs. the Flying Saucers) … Attorney Bronson
- Ray Kellogg (The Twilight Zone; I Love Lucy) … Police Officer Kellogg
- Randy Lane
- Peggy Rea (The Waltons; Here’s Lucy) … Plump Lady Donating at Red Kettle
- The Recruit Bluejacket Choir … Guest Vocalists
- Gilchrist Stuart (The Sound of Music) … Mr. Black – Greer’s Business Manager
- Chris Whitman
- Diahn Williams … Sybil