Over the course of his 70-year career, Red Skelton was rarely out of the public eye. “I just want to be known as a clown, because to me that’s the height of my profession. It means you can do everything — sing, dance, and above all, make people laugh,” he once said.
In addition to his radio, film, and television endeavors, he was well known for his paintings of clowns. In later years, he worked from a studio on a 602-acre ranch he and his wife, Lothian, purchased in 1986 just outside Palm Desert. (Skelton died in 1997).
“The ranch is so secluded that once you are on the back portion, you can see forever,” says Star Evans of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury, the agent for the property, which is on the market for $5.995 million. “Total privacy, yet only 30 minutes to El Paseo, [and] the temperatures up there are perfect. Moderate winters with temperate summers above the valley floor.”
A rock house built in 1920 — with one bedroom and one bath in 820 square feet — was one of the structures on the property when Red Skelton and his wife purchased it in 1986.
The property comprises almost 10,000 square feet of living space, including a 3,083-square-foot main residence, two guest houses (2,200 and 1,900 square feet), and a bunkhouse with three studio spaces. Among many other features, there’s a duck pond and dock, 10 certified wells and four windmill wells, indoor and outdoor riding arenas, a stallion barn, and a warehouse/hay barn.
“Red became interested in the horses mainly because it was a passion of his wife’s,” says Evans. “He had many skits where he referred to the breeding operation. Some are pretty darn funny, but he was a funny guy. He loved the ranch — it provided peace, tranquility, and was a place to get away from it all and refresh his creativity. At the time, he was doing 50 to 60 concerts a year, and the proximity to Palm Springs, where he flew in and out, was ideal.”
Red Skelton and his wife, Lothian, bred quarter horses and thoroughbreds on the ranch.
“Lothian always wanted him to put in an airstrip as the property will accommodate it, and she is a licensed pilot,” adds Evans. “But Red said, ‘No way are you flying me in and out of the ranch.’ I guess it was a standing joke with them.”
An overview of the main living areas on Red Skelton’s 602-acre ranch in Anza. The property is surrounded by National Forest Lands and adjacent to the Pacific Crest Trail.
Most of the structures on the property have been renovated over the years, with the exception of a rock house from 1920 and the main house, which was built in the mid-1970s. “They redid all the plumbing, foundations, walls, electrical, and water lines to all the pastures,” says Evans. The ranch had a minor brush with architectural greatness when Lothian sought advice from her friend, Albert Frey, regarding how she could redo the bunkhouse to suit Red’s artistic pursuits.
The main residence is just over 3,000 square feet and contains three bedrooms and two bathrooms.