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Tom Mullica (Tribute to Red Skelton)

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Tom Mullica's love affair with show business began in 1955 in Waupun, Wisconsin when, as a seven-year-old child, he decided to be a clown. Two years later he discovered magic and not long after combined the two. In addition to magic and clowning, he is a highly skilled ventriloquist and pantomimist.

Tom enlisted in the Army at age 18 and after 3 years in Korea and Germany, moved to the magic capitol of the world, Colon, Michigan, where he built illusions and demonstrated magic for the famous Abbott’s Magic Company. Tom then moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he attended bartending school and opened his own nightclub called The Tom-Foolery Magic Bar Theatre. His popularity in Atlanta led to an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, World's Greatest Magic, Penn & Teller, Viva Variety and hundreds of television appearances throughout the world. With countless hotel and casino performances in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, Tom Mullica remains one of the greatest variety acts of our time. Between 1976 and 1987, the Tom-Foolery was visited by countless notables... including a longtime favorite of Tom’s... Red Skelton.

Red visited the Tom-Foolery in 1980 and liked the show so much he spent two hours with Tom afterwards. Tom occasionally included some suggestive material in his comedy routines at the time and Red proclaimed, "I'll tell you what Tom, if you clean up your act, you can use my material.” He told Tom that his humor was too suggestive and that it shocked people into laughing. He instructed Tom to do every show as if his mother, a priest and a nun were in the audience. Tom's approach to comedy changed that very night. One of the dominant factors in Tom's life has been the quiet, sincere friendship he developed with Red Skelton over the years that followed. Never a night went by at the Tom-Foolery that Tom didn't mention Red. This friendship took on an even more significant, poignant turn for Tom when Skelton sent him W. C. Fields' famous twisted pool cue. Fields used the twisted pool cue in a classic vaudeville routine with Ed Wynn eliciting laughs under the pool table. Finally, Fields 'discovered' Wynn under the table and walloped him with the cue. Fields had taken a liking to Red Skelton and had given him the cue about a year before he died. Tom feels he can never achieve a higher tribute than that in Red's note which accompanied the pool cue "I don't know of anyone I would rather pass it on to for safekeeping than you!"

After 11 years performing at the Tom-Foolery, Tom wanted to move on. He asked Red for his advice and he suggested, "Take 10-15 minutes of your best material and perform it pantomime to music and you'll be able to work any place in the world - you'll have no language barrier." Tom took Red's advice and after 6 months of rehearsal moved to Paris, France where he was one of the featured acts at the world famous Crazy Horse Saloon. Tom returned to America in 1991 and continued his comedy magic career until 1996 when he began writing his tribute to Red Skelton (RED SKELTON: A Performance Tribute By Tom Mullica) which is now featured in theaters throughout America and Canada.

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