1980s and '90s were the busiest in the more than 50-year career of Steve Allen, who
in 1986 was inducted into the TV Academy's Hall of Fame. In the '50s and '60s, when
involved with weekly or nightly TV series,
his extraneous activities were necessarily limited. In recent
years, as he continued to
appear as a guest on network and syndication programs, Allen had more time to write
books, star in occasional dramatic shows, play major concerts, legitimate theatres, and
nightclubs around the country, compose more songs and record more albums.
During the 1980's, Allen starred in two limited prime-time series
for NBC -- The Big Show and The Steve Allen Comedy Hour -- produced the
fourth season of his Emmy and Peabody award-winning Meeting of Minds for PBS, and
garnered critical acclaim for his hosting of the 32nd annual Emmy Awards Show,
stepping in at the last minute during an ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike (and contributing his
fee to the unions' strike fund).
In New York, his comedy musical Seymour
Glick is Alive But Sick was greeted with critical raves during its run at the St. Regis Hotel.
Throughout '80s and '90s, Allen turned out 28 new books
bringing his total to 54 published works. Click
here for new titles during this period.
The multi-talented comedian, writer, composer, lyricist,
actor, concert artist, lecturer (ad infinitum) was a tall (6'3"), 200-pound man,
married for more than 46 years to the beautiful and versatile actress Jayne Meadows. They
lived for more than 40 years in a comfortable hillside home overlooking the San Fernando
Valley. Frequent visitors were their son, Bill, President of
Meadowlane Music and Meadowlane Enterprises and former president of MTM Television in
Hollywood, and Steve's three sons by his first marriage: Steve Jr., a doctor
and lecturer in Ithaca, New York; Brian, President of Windermere, Cronn &
Caplan, realtors in Portland; and David, a songwriter in San Francisco.
(Allen's eight-year marriage to the late Dorothy Goodman, whom he met
while attending Arizona State Teacher's College, ended in divorce in
1952.) Steve often said his
favorite role in life was Grandpa, one he got considerable practice playing as he
Allen's clear and open mind enabled him to move lightly from the
most complex subjects to nutty comedy. He used it on a 24-hour-a-day schedule,
finding ideas literally while waking and sleeping. Always ready to extract them,
Allen had small tape-recorders everywhere: in his pockets, in the bathroom, by his bed, in
his car. This system supplied the raw material for the numerous Allen activities.
"I'm always busy," he noted, "but always doing
things I enjoy. I rarely occupy myself with things that bug me. I'm very fortunate
in that not many of us are allowed to live for kicks and get paid for it."
But it is sometimes difficult for the observer to get the man in
focus. Allen was, for example, a television comedian of nearly 50 years' standing who has
written a scholarly treatise on migratory farm labor titled The Ground is our Table.
He recounted white-collar crime in Ripoff: The Corruption that
Plagues America. And in 2000, he wrote a BestSeller on raising the
standards of popular culture called
Vulgarians at the Gate.
Steve Allen, the actor who starred in Universal's The Benny Goodman Story,
is the same man whose poems have appeared in Atlantic Monthly and Saturday
Review, and who has had two books of poetry published.
Steve Allen, the composer of more than 7,900 songs, was the same man who
wrote the popular novel Not All of Your Laughter, Not all of Your Tears.
Allen, the lyricist of such popular
songs as "South Rampart Street Parade," "Picnic," "Gravy
Waltz," "Mary Hartman-Mary Hartman" and "This Could be the Start of
Something Big," also starred on the Broadway stage in The Pink Elephant.
Steve Allen, the author of
54 published books, ranging in subject matter from poetry through short stories, humor,
autobiography and politics, was also the composer and lyricist of the stage musical Sophie,
about the late Sophie Tucker; and, in 1986, he composed the score for the CBS-TV version
of Alice in Wonderland.
Steve Allen was the composer of the background score of the MGM
film, A Man Called Dagger, and yet the same man who wrote and produced an
award-winning TV documentary on organized crime.
As Allen's good friend Andy Williams said, "Steve
did so many
things, he's the only man I know who's listed on every one of the Yellow Pages."
Steve's taste for both high and lowbrow comedy came naturally --
his mother was the popular vaudeville comedienne Belle Montrose. (His father, Billy
Allen, Belle's straightman, died before Steve was two.) Though he was raised in and
around show business, traveling from city to city, he would usually wind up in Chicago,
the home of his mother's Irish-Catholic, lower-middle-class family whose humor Steve
described as "sarcastic, volatile, sometimes disparaging, but very funny."
Steve was later to write a semi-autobiographical drama based on
reminiscences of his early childhood. The Wake had its world premiere at the Masquers Theatre in Hollywood during the Fall of 1971.
In 1978, The Wake enjoyed a successful run on the Eastern theatre
circuit, with Allen himself in one of the starring roles.
It garnered the acclaim of both critics and the public, and was
nominated by the Los Angeles TV Critics Circle in Best Play category. The Wake was
produced, in 1991, by a theatrical company in Milwaukee, and in 1992 completed a
successful run at the Celtic Arts Center in Los Angeles. Steve also adapted the
story to novel form, which was published by Doubleday.
Steve's Early Years
The '60s and '70s
There is no better way to celebrate the career of Steve Allen than
by adding the Steve Allen's
75th Birthday Celebration Video or A&E's Biography of
Steve Allen to your collection:
Allen's 75th Birthday Celebration Video
shipping and handling.
Bill Maher (Politically Incorrect) serves as master of ceremonies at
this all-star comedy and music event celebrating Steve Allen's 75th
birthday and his half-century career in television and
entertainment. Steve performs several of his greatest musical hits
and introduces clips of some of his best-loved comedy sketches and
ad-libbed routines. He also enjoys tributes by fellow entertainers
including Milton Berle, Jackie Mason, Billy Crystal, Ted Koppel, Jay
Leno, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, David Letterman, Rodney
Dangerfield, Steve Martin, Phil Hartman and a special appearance by Jayne
Meadows. Classic clips from the golden age of television feature:
Bob Hope, Charlton Heston, Don Knotts, Jerry Lewis, Louis Nye and
many more. And the Steve Allen Big Band performs some of the many
songs has written including, "The South Rampart Street
Parade," "Gravy Waltz," and "This Could Be The
Start Of Something Big." So join in this musical, comedy
celebration of the career of one of television's living
here for online ordering information.
& E Biography of Steve Allen
Enjoy this informative A & E Biography of Steve Allen.
- $12.95 plus shipping and handling.
here for online ordering information.