STEVE ALLEN Biography - Socialites, celebrities and People in the fashion industry


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Name: Steve Allen                                                                           
Born: December 26, 1921 New York City, New York, USA                                       
Died: October 30, 2000 Los Angeles, California, USA                                         
Stephen Valentine Patrick William Allen (December 26, 1921 – October 30, 2000)           
was an American musician, comedian and writer. As the first host of The Tonight             
Show, Allen was instrumental in innovating the concept of the television talk               
show, and is often called the father of television talk shows.                             
Allen was born in New York City, the son of Isabelle (née Donohue), a vaudeville           
comedienne who performed under the name Belle Montrose, and Carroll Allen, a               
vaudeville performer who used the stage name Billy Allen.[1] Allen was raised on           
the South side of Chicago by his mother's Irish Catholic family. Milton Berle               
once called Allen's mother "the funniest woman in vaudeville".                             
Allen's first radio job was on station KOY in Phoenix, Arizona after he left               
Arizona State Teachers' College (now Arizona State University) in Tempe, Arizona           
while still a sophomore. He enlisted in the US Army during World War II and was             
trained as an infantryman. He spent his service time at Camp Roberts, near                 
Monterrey, California, and did not serve overseas. Allen returned to Phoenix               
before deciding to move back to California.                                                 
The handprints of Steve Allen in front of Hollywood Hills Amphitheater at Walt             
Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.                                       
Allen became an announcer for KFAC in Los Angeles then moved to the Mutual                 
Broadcasting System in 1946, talking the station into airing a five night a week           
comedy show called "Smile Time", co-starring Wendell Noble. Allen had an                   
opportunity to move to CBS Radio's KNX in Los Angeles and did so. His music and             
talk format gradually changed to include more talk to his half hour show,                   
boosting his popularity and creating standing room only studio audiences. During           
one episode of the show, reserved primarily for an interview with Doris Day, his           
guest star failed to appear. Instead Allen picked up a microphone and went into             
the audience to ad lib for the first time.[2] In 1950 and for 13 weeks his show             
substituted for Our Miss Brooks, for the first time exposing Allen to a national           
audience. Allen next went to New York to work for TV station WCBS.                         
He achieved national attention when he was pressed into service at the last                 
minute to host Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts when its host was unable to appear.           
Allen turned one of Godfrey's live Lipton commercials upside down, preparing tea           
and instant soup on camera, then pouring both into Godfrey's ukulele. With the             
audience (including Godfrey watching from Miami) uproariously and thoroughly               
entertained, Allen gained major recognition as a comedian and host. Leaving CBS,           
he created a late-night New York talk-variety TV program in 1953 for what is now           
WNBC-TV. The following year, on September 27, 1954, the show went on the full               
NBC network as The Tonight Show, with fellow radio personality Gene Rayburn (who           
later went on to host hit game shows such as Match Game) as the original                   
announcer. The show ran from 11:15 pm to 1:00 am on the east coast.                         
While Today Show developer Pat Weaver is often credited as Tonight's creator,               
Allen often pointed out that the show was previously "created" — by himself — as       
a local New York show. "This is Tonight, and I can't think of too much to tell             
you about it except I want to give you the bad news first: this program is going           
to go on forever", Allen told his nationwide audience that first evening. "Boy,             
you think you're tired now. Wait until you see one o'clock roll around."                   
It was as host of The Tonight Show that Allen pioneered the 'man on the street'             
interviews and audience-participation comedy breaks that have become commonplace           
on late-night TV. In 1956, while still hosting Tonight, Allen added a Sunday-evening       
variety show scheduled directly against The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS and Maverick           
on ABC. One of Allen's guests was comedian Johnny Carson, a future successor to             
Allen as host of The Tonight Show; among Carson's material during that                     
appearance was a portrayal of how a poker game between Allen, Sullivan and                 
Maverick star James Garner, all impersonated by Carson, would transpire. Allen's           
programs helped the careers of singers Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, who were             
regulars on his early Tonight Show, and Sammy Davis, Jr..                                   
In 1956 NBC offered Allen a new, prime-time Sunday night Steve Allen Show aimed             
at dethroning CBS's top-rated Ed Sullivan Show. The show included a typical run             
of star performers including early TV appearances by Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee           
Lewis. However, Allen, a pianist whose love of jazz influenced all his TV shows             
and the music presented on them, had a strong personal distaste for Rock 'n Roll           
music. He "came from the sheet music era, where songwriters crafted compositions           
that anyone could play around the piano at home." For him, the "nonsense lyrics"           
of rock 'n' roll "were expressions of the semi-coherent sexual frenzy barely               
contained within the recordings and live performances. Rock 'n' roll was about             
the excitement the artists pitched and the kids caught; it wasn't supposed to               
hold up when lyrics were amputated from the big beat. But that comic bit was               
just one of Allen's misdemeanors."[3] He often presented skits ridiculing rock             
musicians. For instance, controversy surrounded his decision to present Elvis               
Presley wearing a white bow tie and black tails and singing Hound Dog to a live             
bassett hound for comedic effect. On the other hand, Allen was the first                   
television show host to present many African American jazz musicians. Allen also           
provided a nationwide audience for his famous 'man on the street' comics, such             
as Pat Harrington, Jr., Don Knotts, Louis Nye, Bill Dana, Dayton Allen and Tom             
Poston. All were relatively obscure performers prior to their stints with Allen,           
and went on to stardom.                                                                     
Allen remained host of "Tonight" for three nights a week (Monday and Tuesday               
nights were taken over by Ernie Kovacs) until early 1957, when he left the "Tonight"       
show to devote his attention to the Sunday night program. It was his (and NBC's)           
hope that the Steve Allen show could defeat Ed Sullivan in the ratings. While he           
did defeat Sullivan on a few occasions, Sullivan continued to dominate. But                 
ironically, what the critics had called an epic battle of two talk giants ended             
up with both beaten handily by the western Maverick. In September 1959, Allen               
relocated to Los Angeles, and left Sunday night television. Back in LA, he                 
continued to write songs, hosted other variety shows, and wrote books and                   
articles about comedy.                                                                     
The 1985 documentary film, Kerouac, the Movie, starts and ends with footage of             
Jack Kerouac reading from On The Road as Allen accompanies on soft jazz piano,             
from The Steve Allen Plymouth Show in 1959. "Are you nervous?" Allen asks him;             
Kerouac answers nervously, "Naw."                                                           
Allen helped the recently invented Polaroid camera become popular by                       
demonstrating its use in live commercials, and amassed a huge windfall for his             
work because he had opted to be paid in Polaroid Corporation stock.