Thursday, February 15, 2018

Marty Allen R.I.P.

Comedian Marty Allen, who was one half of the comedy team Allen & Rossi with Steve Rossi and later had his own successful solo career, died on February 12 at the age of 95.

Marty Allen was born Morton Alpern in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on March 23 1922. He attended Taylor Allderdice High School there. He attended the University of Southern California as a journalism major, but left when he decided he would make a better comedian than a reporter. He performed at various nightclubs around Pittsburgh before enlisting in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. He resumed his career following the war.

For a time he teamed up with  Mitch DeWood. The two of them opened for such acts as Eydie Gormé, and Nat King Cole. The team broke up in 1958. It was Nat King Cole who suggested that Marty Allen team up with Steve Rossi. Allen and Rossi would prove extremely successful, with a string of hit comedy albums, as well as several appearances on television. They appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show 44 times alone, including The Beatles' second and third appearances on the show. In the Sixties they also appeared on such shows as I've Got a Secret, Tonight Starring Jack Paar, Talent Scouts, The New Steve Allen Show, The Garry Moore Show, Today, Where the Action Is, House Party, The Hollywood Palace, The Dean Martin Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and The Merv Griffith Show. In addition to talk show and variety shows, Marty Allen also guest starred on the shows The Big Valley and Love, American Style. Allen & Rossi appeared in the cult film The Last of the Secret Agents? (1966).

Marty Allen and Steve Rossi parted amicably in 1968, although they would re-unite several times over the years. In the Seventies Marty Allen continued to appear on several television shows, including such shows as The Virginia Graham Show, The David Frost Show, The Merv Griffin Show, The Dean Martin Show, Tattletales, Dinah!, The Hollywood Squares, and The Bob Braun Show. He appeared in acting roles on the shows Honeymoon Suite, Monster Squad, and Flying High. He appeared in the films The Great Waltz (1972), Harrad Summer (1974), Allen and Rossi Meet Dracula and Frankenstein (1974), and A Whale of a Tale (1976).

In the Eighties Marty Allen appeared on the shows The Palace, The Alan Thicke Show, Madame's Place, Hour Magazine, and It's Garry Shandling's Show. He appeared in the films The Naked Face (1984) and Cannonball Run II (1984). He guest starred on Benson.

Marty Allen was an absolutely brilliant comedian, particularly as part of the team of Allen & Rossi. Their best routines were often interviews, in which Marty Allen would play an addled individual (everything from a doctor to an astronaut) being interviewed by Steve Rossi. Their catchphrase, "Hello dere" became very popular in the Sixties. Of course, even without Steve Rossi, Marty Allen was very funny. He had a unique mix of innocence and madness that made for some very interesting comedy. It should be little wonder that he was so much in demand during his career.


Along These Lines ... said...

Classic Allen and Rossi:
Allen: My wife's a twin
Rossi: How do you tell them apart?
Allen: Her brother's taller

Sad to see Marty passed away. He was still working until recently. We did this interview not so long ago :(

Terence Towles Canote said...

Thank you so much for the link to the interview! Marty Allen was truly a comic genius.