Marty Allen, the bug-eyed comedian and staple of variety shows, died Monday night in Las Vegas. He was 95.
Candi Cazau, a spokesperson for Allen, told the Associated Press he passed away from complications with pneumonia. His wife and performing partner Karon Kate Blackwell kept by his side.
“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.”
“Las Vegas and show business lost a legend tonight…and I lost a friend,” Terry Fator, a Vegas-based ventriloquist, wrote. “Marty Allen was true Mr. Show Business.”
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
Las Vegas and show business lost a legend tonight…and I lost a friend. Marty Allen was true Mr. Show Business. #RIPMartyAllen pic.twitter.com/MBZ67g0XLV
Allen became known as one-half of the Allen & Rossi duo in the 1950s and ’60s with Steve Rossi. The pair appeared 44 times on The Ed Sullivan Show — even with The Beatles — and later on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson and The Merv Griffin Show. It was during this time that Allen made “hello dere” his own.
“Everyone remembers those shows with The Beatles, and they were great, but we appeared on all the shows,” he told The Las Vegas Sun (via PEOPLE). “There wasn’t a talk show on TV that didn’t want Allen & Rossi.”
Allen & Rossi split in 1968, but teamed up again multiple times over the years that followed. Rossi died of cancer in 2014.
Allen made his way across daytime television and became a regular on game shows, like The Hollywood Squares.
After the war ended, Allen studied journalism at the University of Southern California, but realized his passion was in show business.
LAS VEGAS — Marty Allen, the baby-faced, bug-eyed comedian with wild black hair who was a staple of TV variety shows, game shows and talk shows for decades, died Monday night. He was 95.
Allen died in Las Vegas of complications from pneumonia with his wife and performing partner of the last three decades Karon Kate Blackwell by his side, Allen’s spokeswoman Candi Cazau told the Associated Press.
Allen, known for his greeting and catchphrase “hello dere,” was a living link late in life to a generation of long-dead superstars with whom he shared a stage, including Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and Elvis Presley
He first found fame as half of the duo Allen & Rossi with partner Steve Rossi, who died in 2014. Allen & Rossi appeared 44 times on The Ed Sullivan Show, including the episodes where the Beatles performed.
“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.”
The duo appeared regularly on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson and The Merv Griffin Show. They also toured comedy clubs nationwide, headlined shows at major Las Vegas casinos and released a series of hit albums until their amicable breakup in 1968.
Allen then took on a series of serious roles on daytime television and made-for-TV movies, and was a regular on The Hollywood Squares and other celebrity-themed game shows.
He was a regular entertainer on the Las Vegas Strip for much of his life, and tributes from there poured in Monday night.
“We have lost another iconic Las Vegas entertainer, Marty Allen,” Las Vegas magician Lance Burton tweeted. “What a funny man who brought joy to millions of people for 95 years.”
Ventriloquist and Strip luminary Terry Fator tweeted that “Las Vegas and show business lost a legend tonight … . and I lost a friend.”
Allen was born in Pittsburgh and served in Italy in the Second World War, earning a Soldier’s medal for valour.
He was married to Lorraine ‘Frenchy’ Allen from 1960 until she died in 1976.
Then in 1984, he married Blackwell, a singer-songwriter who became his performing partner in his last decades and acted as the goofy Allen’s “straight man” just as Rossi did half a century earlier.
“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.”
Get the day’s top Times Colonist headlines emailed to you every morning
The Times Colonist is looking for people to deliver flyers every Thursday …