Dick Van Dyke to receive new Red Skelton ‘Clown’ award

FILE - In this April 24, 2016, file photo Dick Van Dyke attends the 29th Annual Gypsy Awards Luncheon held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. A video posted on YouTube August 12, 2016, shows Van Dyke performing "Chitty Chitty Bang Band" at a California Denny's. (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision/AP, File)

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 Skeleton’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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