×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Comic Bill Skiles dies at 79

Part of Skiles and Henderson comedy team

Bill Skiles, one half of the comedy team of Skiles and Henderson, died Monday, May 16, of kidney cancer in St. Cloud, Fla. He was 79.

Skiles and Henderson were together for more than 50 years, performing their first shows at Disneyland in 1958. Skiles was the clown and Henderson the straight man.

The pair met in 1953, after Skiles’ tour of duty in the Air Force. Skiles was part of vocal quartet the Jolly Rogers for a year, performing in Las Vegas.

Their act at Disneyland included zany homemade musical instruments.

In the early ’60s the pair joined a folk ensemble, the New Christy Minstrels; a portion of each show was devoted to their comedy, but they eventually exited the group. They also saw some of their first TV exposure on shows including “The Red Skelton Show” and “Bell Telephone Hour.”

They recurred on “Dean Martin’s Golddiggers” in 1968, appeared on “Playboy After Dark” in 1969 and appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The David Frost Show” in 1970. Also in 1970, they toured with Rowan and Martin and Lily Tomlin.

Soon Skiles and Henderson became the opening act for a number of performers in Las Vegas, including Andy Williams, Loretta Lynn and Roger Miller.

In 1972 the pair began a five-year gig touring with the Carpenters. They appeared on two episodes of “The Tonight Show” during the mid-’70s and later guested on “The Hollywood Squares.”

By the mid-’90s they were doing stints in Branson, Mo., and Skiles and Henderson did their last tour in March 2010.

Skiles is survived by his wife, Arlene, a former singer, and four children and several grandchildren.

More TV

  • HBO's 'Our Boys' and the Struggle

    HBO's 'Our Boys' and the Struggle to Tell Real Stories When Truth is Under Attack

    This week’s impeachment hearings — in which countless witnesses reaffirmed how Donald Trump had withheld aid to Ukraine until the country agreed to investigate the son of political rival Joe Biden (something even Trump has more or less admitted to) — was nonetheless a reminder how even the truth won’t prevent competing narratives in the [...]

  • Inbar Lavi, a cast member in

    TV News Roundup: 'Stumptown' Adds Inbar Lavi in Guest Role

    In today’s TV news roundup, Inbar Lavi has been cast in a recurring guest role on ABC’s “Stumptown” and CBS has announced two holiday primetime specials for “The Price is Right.”  CASTINGS Inbar Lavi has been cast in a recurring guest role on ABC’s “Stumptown.” Last seen on Netflix’s “Lucifer” as Eve, this new role [...]

  • Live+3 Ratings for Week of Nov.

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of Nov. 11: 'This Is Us' Tops 'Masked Singer'

    First the first time in a while, “This Is Us” managed to top “The Masked Singer” in the Live+3 TV ratings. The NBC drama was the biggest grower of the week, jumping 80% from a 1.4 to a 2.5 after three days of delayed viewing, benefiting from a series low performance from the Fox singing [...]

  • Louie Anderson

    Louie Anderson to Star as Talking Cat in Comedy in the Works at Fox (EXCLUSIVE)

    Louie Anderson may have found the purr-fect role. Variety has learned exclusively that Anderson is set to star in and executive produce the multi-camera comedy “Tigsley” at Fox. The project has received a script commitment with a penalty attached. “Tigsley” is described as an adult comedy about a family dealing with life, love, the pursuit [...]

  • CENTRAL PARK FIVE

    How Spencer Averick Built Suspense Through Editing Ava DuVernay's 'When They See Us'

    For most of the “When They See Us” shoot, director Ava DuVernay worked with two or three cameras, but when it came to shooting the tense courtroom seen where Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise are put on trial, DuVernay shot with four cameras. Editor Spencer Averick says, “We needed [...]

  • Eliot Goldberg

    AMC Networks Unscripted Head Eliot Goldberg Steps Down

    Eliot Goldberg, AMC Networks’ executive vice president of nonfiction and alternative programming for AMC, Sundance TV and BBC America, is departing the company after six years. Marco Bresaz, senior vice president of nonfiction and alternative programming, will lead the nonfiction programming group going forward. Kelly Nash, who was recently promoted to vice president of nonfiction [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content