Comedian Marty Allen Dead At 95

Comedian Marty Allen Dead At 95
Comedian Marty Allen dies in Las Vegas at 95 – AP News
nMarty Allen, the frizzy-haired, bug-eyed clown who joined forces with the crooner Steve Rossi to form one of the most successful comedy teams of the 1960s, died on Monday in Las Vegas. He was 95.

Allen and Rossi’s humor was not sophisticated — Mr. Allen’s signature phrase was the succinct exclamation “Hello dere!” — but it was effective. Most of their routines took the form of interviews, with Mr. Rossi asking the questions and Mr. Allen typically playing a befuddled and incompetent (but strangely lovable) astronaut, football player, doctor or other character.

In one of their best-known routines, Mr. Allen was a punch-drunk boxer.

“I’m thinking, ‘What am I going to do?’ They kept screaming,” Allen told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “So, I go on stage and I say, ‘Hello dere, kids. I’m Ringo’s mother.’ And the kids started yelling ‘It’s his mother.’”

“Would you say you’re the best fighter in the country?” Mr. Rossi asked him.

That kind of comedy was as old as vaudeville if not older. But the material worked thanks to the partners’ personalities, and their chemistry.

Allen died of complications from pneumonia, spokeswoman Candi Cazau told The Associated Press. Karon Kate Blackwell, his wife and performing partner for the last three decades, was at his side, Cazau said.

If Mr. Rossi’s unflappable suavity was standard operating procedure for a comedy team’s straight man, Mr. Allen’s childlike mix of innocence and insanity was something new. Audiences responded, especially after the team began doing topical jokes.

Marty Allen Dies: Comedian Best Known For “Hello Dere” Was 95

During the 1964 presidential campaign, for example, Mr. Allen portrayed the ultraconservative Republican candidate Barry Goldwater — although he made no attempt to sound like him, and began the interview with “Hello dere!” — and said he was confident of winning “all 13 states.”

Within a few years after teaming up in the late 1950s, Allen and Rossi had become a familiar presence in the nation’s top nightclubs and on television variety shows.

A legendary comedian who served in World War II has passed away at the age of 95

In two of their many appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show” — Mr. Allen liked to say that they had been on the show more times than Ed Sullivan himself — Allen and Rossi had the unenviable task of following the Beatles. They won over an audience dominated by screaming teenage girls both times.

Allen was married to Lorraine “Frenchy” Allen from 1960 until her death in 1976. He married Blackwell in 1984 and she became the “straight man” in their act. 

Comedian Marty Allen, best known for ‘hello dere,’ dies at age 95

On the first occasion, in February 1964, Mr. Allen performed a frenetic dance wearing a Beatle wig; on the second, in September 1965, he ran up and down the aisles while Mr. Rossi sang “She Loves You” (its lyrics amended to “We love you, yeah, yeah, yeah” and addressed to the audience).

He would rise to fame as one half of the hit comedic duo Allen & Rossi after joining forces with fellow comedian Steve Rossi. The pair regularly appeared on various talk shows throughout the ’60s. They were perhaps best known for their 44 appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Marty Allen Dies: Beloved Comedy Legend Dead At 95

Marty Allen was born Morton Alpern in Pittsburgh on March 23, 1922, the son of Louis and Elsie Alpern. He studied journalism at the University of Southern California but soon decided that he was better qualified to be a performer than a reporter.

He began his show business career as a comedian in Pittsburgh nightclubs before joining the Army Air Forces and serving in Italy. He resumed it after being discharged in 1947.

“It’s unbelievable to be 94 years old,” he told am audience in 2016 at a New York performance. “My wife says, ‘What do you want for your birthday?’ I told her, ‘An antique.’ So she framed my birth certificate.”

Comedian Marty Allen, a Regular on ‘Ed Sullivan Show,’ Dies Near Wife

He briefly teamed with his fellow comedian Mitch DeWood, who would go on to become entertainment director of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. When Mr. Allen and Mr. DeWood broke up, Nat King Cole, for whom they had opened, suggested that Mr. Allen work with Mr. Rossi, who had been in residence at the Sands Hotel.

Entertainment reporters sometimes referred to Allen and Rossi as the successors to another singer-comedian team, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, who after almost a decade of worldwide stardom had broken up in 1956. The comparisons became more frequent when the team signed with Paramount Pictures, Martin and Lewis’s old studio. But those comparisons abruptly ended with the release in 1966 of the spy spoof “The Last of the Secret Agents?” It was the team’s first movie; it was also the team’s last.

Comedian Marty Allen dies in Las Vegas at 95 - AP News
Comedian Marty Allen dies in Las Vegas at 95 – AP News

The reviews were devastating. Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote that Allen and Rossi were “lacking in both wit and vitality” and dismissed the film as a “vehicle made of plywood and cheesecloth.” Audiences stayed away. Destined not to be movie stars, Allen and Rossi stayed together for a while but broke up — amicably, they both insisted — in 1968.

Allen’s comedy career began in the 1950s, when he worked as an opening act for artists like Sarah Vaughan, Eydie Gorme and Nat King Cole.
Comedian Marty Allen dies in Las Vegas at 95 - AP News
Comedian Marty Allen dies in Las Vegas at 95 – AP News

Marty Allen, Famed Comedian, Dead at 95

Mr. Rossi went on to work with a succession of partners, while Mr. Allen found new life as a frequent guest on game shows like “The Hollywood Squares” and “Password” and as an occasional movie and television actor, in dramas as well as comedies.

They even appeared on the famous episode which featured The Beatles in their U.S. television debut.

Allen and Rossi reunited in 1983 and, seven years later, signed what was characterized in the news media as a lifetime contract with the Vegas World Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, guaranteeing them $6,000 a week (a little over $15,000 in today’s money) for 30 weeks a year. Four years after that, however, their contract was abruptly terminated; a year later, Allen and Rossi broke up for good.

Marty Allen, Comedian and Game Show Regular, Dies at 95

Mr. Allen’s wife, the singer Karon Kate Blackwell, had become part of his act by the time he and Mr. Rossi got back together, and the act was briefly a trio. After he and Mr. Rossi once again split, Mr. Allen and Ms. Blackwell continued performing together. (He described the team as “the new George Burns and Gracie Allen, only I’m Gracie.”) She survives him.

Marty Allen, Comedian and Daytime TV Favorite, Dies at 95
Marty Allen, Comedian and Daytime TV Favorite, Dies at 95

Mr. Allen continued to perform with Ms. Blackwell into his 90s, including two nights at the Metropolitan Room in Manhattan in 2016. “Ninety-four years old, and I’ve still got it!” he said at a performance that year in Mill Valley, Calif. “But nobody wants it.”

“Honored to have had him on my podcast & grateful to have attended his 95th Birthday Celebration,” fellow comedian Gilbert Gottfried tweeted. “Farewell to one of the funniest people onstage and off. RIP Marty Allen.”

He maintained a grueling performance schedule almost to the end, and prided himself on staying in good enough shape to handle it.

Marty Allen, fuzzy-haired member of popular 1960s comedy duo Allen &#x0026 Rossi, dies at 95
Marty Allen, fuzzy-haired member of popular 1960s comedy duo Allen &#x0026 Rossi, dies at 95

“I work out every day,” he told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2009. “Just yesterday I was on the treadmill for an hour. Then some idiot turned it on.”

Honored to have had him on my podcast & grateful to have attended his 95th Birthday Celebration. Farewell to one of the funniest people onstage and off. RIP Marty Allen pic.twitter.com/g4lzrUNWVp

We’re interested in your feedback on this page. Tell us what you think.

Marty Allen, the bug-eyed comic who formed one half of the hit comedic duo Allen & Rossi, died Monday night in Las Vegas at age 95.

The Associated Press confirmed the news via his spokeswoman Candi Cazau, who said that he died from complications from pneumonia with his performing partner of 30 years and wife Karon Kate Blackwell at his side.

Allen was well-known for his catchphrase “hello dere.” His career began in the 1950s, when he worked as an opening act with partner Mitch DeWood for Sarah Vaughan, Eydie Gorme, and Nat King Cole. After their partnership ended, Allen joined up with Steve Rossi to form Allen & Rossi, with whom he found fame.

Allen & Rossi produced a number of hit comedy records and appeared 44 times on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” including the episode which also constituted the Beatles’ debut performance. Allen and Rossi parted ways in 1968, though they would continue to reunite for shows through the ’90s.

“Everyone remembers those shows with The Beatles, and they were great, but we appeared on all the shows,” Allen said in 2014. “There wasn’t a talk show on TV that didn’t want Allen & Rossi.”

Allen made hundreds of television appearances in the ’70s and ’80s in serious roles and daytime televison, beginning with a role in “The Big Valley” as Waldo Diefendorfer. He appeared regularly on the game show “Hollywood Squares,” as well as other game shows like “Password.”

After their marriage in 1984, Allen and Blackwell began teaming up to perform a musical comedy act around the country, landing gigs at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino, the Southpoint Casino, and Palace Station. The couple performed through the new millennium, with sell-out shows in 2015.

A veteran of WWII, Allen participated in annual comedy tours of military hospitals under the “Hello Dere” moniker beginnig in 1968, and repeated the tour through 1972.

“It’s unbelievable to be 94 years old,” Marty Allen told a New York audience in 2016. “My wife says, ‘What do you want for your birthday?’ I told her, ‘An antique.’ So she framed my birth certificate.”

Marty Allen, the bug-eyed comic who formed one half of the hit comedic duo Allen & Rossi, died Monday night in Las Vegas at age 95. The Associated Press confirmed the news via his spokeswoman Candi Cazau, who said that he died from complications from pneumonia with his performing partner of 30 years and wife Karon […]

Marty Allen, the bug-eyed comic who formed one half of the hit comedic duo Allen & Rossi, died Monday night in Las Vegas at age 95. The Associated Press confirmed the news via his spokeswoman Candi Cazau, who said that he died from complications from pneumonia with his performing partner of 30 years and wife Karon […]

Marty Allen, the bug-eyed comic who formed one half of the hit comedic duo Allen & Rossi, died Monday night in Las Vegas at age 95. The Associated Press confirmed the news via his spokeswoman Candi Cazau, who said that he died from complications from pneumonia with his performing partner of 30 years and wife Karon […]

Marty Allen, the bug-eyed comic who formed one half of the hit comedic duo Allen & Rossi, died Monday night in Las Vegas at age 95. The Associated Press confirmed the news via his spokeswoman Candi Cazau, who said that he died from complications from pneumonia with his performing partner of 30 years and wife Karon […]

Marty Allen, the bug-eyed comic who formed one half of the hit comedic duo Allen & Rossi, died Monday night in Las Vegas at age 95. The Associated Press confirmed the news via his spokeswoman Candi Cazau, who said that he died from complications from pneumonia with his performing partner of 30 years and wife Karon […]

Marty Allen, the bug-eyed comic who formed one half of the hit comedic duo Allen & Rossi, died Monday night in Las Vegas at age 95. The Associated Press confirmed the news via his spokeswoman Candi Cazau, who said that he died from complications from pneumonia with his performing partner of 30 years and wife Karon […]

Marty Allen, the bug-eyed comic who formed one half of the hit comedic duo Allen & Rossi, died Monday night in Las Vegas at age 95. The Associated Press confirmed the news via his spokeswoman Candi Cazau, who said that he died from complications from pneumonia with his performing partner of 30 years and wife Karon […]


Posted in World