for Steve Allen fans, rest was a word seldom used in the Allen lexicon. In
1961-62, Steve appeared in a weekly comedy hour on ABC-TV, and the following year returned
to his old Tonight format for a Westinghouse syndicated series
Following almost three years of this, Steve moved back to CBS for three
seasons as emcee of I've Got a Secret (Goodson and Todman would also later call
on him to host the 1972 syndicated version of this program) and in the summer of 1967, he
appeared in a weekly comedy show with wife Jayne for the same network.
The CBS show proved to be a warm-up for his third series, for Filmways and
Golden West, which ran from 1968 through 1972.
"It's ironic," says Steve of these later shows, "In our
production meetings we would often hear someone say, 'Let's not do one of our old routines
-- that's the way they do it on the Carson show' -- or 'Dick Cavett did that the other
night, let's find another way to do it.'"
"I've even found myself thinking along these lines at times.
Yet," says Steve, with a rueful grin, "it was the old Tonight
shows which set the format, the tempo, the direction for the comedy talk shows which
followed. The only significant change in the basic Tonight format was made by Jack
Paar -- he moved in a couch for guests to sit on."
In 1976, Allen scored with another comedy format, Laughback, a
weekly 90-minute program reuniting many of his old "gang" in live-on-tape as
well as in filmed highlights from past memorable shows. Syndicated to major
prime-time markets, Laughback featured such Allen "finds" as Louis Nye,
Jonathan Winters, Bill Dana, Don Knotts, Tom Poston, Foster Brooks, Gabe Dell, Jayne
Meadows, Skitch Henderson and Tim Conway.
Among some of his television comedies have been ABC-TV's hilarious annual Unofficial
Miss Las Vegas Showgirl Beauty Queen Pageant, a spoof of the beauty shows that almost
defy spoofing. The first, in 1974, was hailed by Johnny Carson as the "the
funniest show of the year."
Equally entertaining was the American Academy of Humor TV Special,
which Allen helped write, in addition to serving as a performer in the salute to humor.
From 1977 to 1981 -- four glorious years -- Allen's multi-award
winning Meeting of Minds series aired on the PBS Network. The programs, in
talk-show format, featured serious discussions with such guests as Aristotle, Plato,
Socrates, Augustine, Aquinas, Karl Marx, Voltaire, Adam Smith, Florence Nightingale,
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette and other figures from history.
Of this remarkable series, written and hosted by Allen, no less an authority
than historian Will Durant said, "Meeting of Minds held our family
fascinated. We felt it a conception of originality and courage...a masterpiece of
Steve and Jayne also frequently performed their concert and nightclub show in
theatres around the country to critical acclaim throughout the 1960's and 1970's.
They also toured, during the mid-70s, in Noel Coward's Tonight at 8:30,
garnering such critical praise as: "a highly entertaining show. The
multi-talented Allen is marvelous in the two comedy acts...Allen is unquestionably one of
the funniest men in America. His wife is superb in all three plays, utilizing the
full range of her dramatic powers."