Stephen Valentine Patrick William Allen (December 26, 1921 – October 30, 2000) was an American musician, comedian, and writer who was instrumental in innovating the concept of the television talk show. Allen is called the father of TV talk shows.
Allen was born in New York City on St Stephen's Day (hence his first name) to Carroll Allen and Belle Montrose, Irish-American Catholics. Milton Berle once called Belle Montrose "the funniest woman in vaudeville."
Allen was also a composer who supposedly wrote over 7,000 songs. In one famous stunt, he made a bet with singer-songwriter Frankie Laine that he could write fifty songs a day for a week. Composing on public display in the window of a Hollywood music store, Allen met the quota, winning $1,000 from Laine. One of the songs "Let's Go to Church Next Sunday" was recorded by both Perry Como and Margaret Whiting.
Allen's best-known songs are "This Could Be the Start of Something Big" and "The Gravy Waltz," which won a Grammy Award in 1963 for best jazz composition. Allen was also an actor, appearing in such films as The Benny Goodman Story, starring as Benny Goodman, in 1955.
In spite of his liberal position on free speech, his later concerns about the smuttiness he observed on television caused him to make proposals restricting the content of programs, allying himself with the Parents Television Council. He was also notoriously contemptuous of rock 'n' roll music. On one occasion, in a spirit of not-so-subtle mockery, he had Elvis Presley wear a top hat and tails while singing "Hound Dog" to an actual hound, who was similarly attired. Allen also was known to "interpret" the lyrics of actual rock songs to his audience as little more than a series of grunts.
Allen's second wife was actress Jayne Meadows, by whom he had one son. They were married from 1954 until his death in 2000. He died of a cardiac disease triggered by a previous minor traffic accident the same day (October 30, 2000) at the age of 78 and is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park at Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, California.
Steve Allen has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: a TV star at 1720 Vine St. and a radio star at 1537 Vine St.
Telephone: (902) 542-5226