|Intro||American comedian, actor, musician and writer|
|A.K.A.||Stephen Valentine Patrick William "Steve" Allen, Stephen Valentine Patrick William Allen|
|Countries||United States of America|
|Occupations||Actor Musician Television presenter Writer Pianist|
|Birth||26 December 1921 (New York City)|
|Death||30 October 2000 (Encino, Los Angeles)|
|Education||Arizona State University, Drake University|
Stephen Valentine Patrick William "Steve" Allen (December 26, 1921 – October 30, 2000) was an American television personality, musician, composer, actor, comedian, and writer. Though he got his start in radio, Allen is best known for his television career. He first gained national attention as a guest host on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. He graduated to become the first host of The Tonight Show, where he was instrumental in innovating the concept of the television talk show. Thereafter, he hosted numerous game and variety shows, including The Steve Allen Show, I've Got a Secret, and The New Steve Allen Show, and was a regular panel member on CBS' What's My Line?
Allen was a creditable pianist and a prolific composer, having written (by his own estimate) over 8,500 songs, some of which were recorded by Perry Como, Margaret Whiting, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Les Brown, and Gloria Lynne. Allen won the 1964 Grammy Award for Best Original Jazz Composition, having set words to the Ray Brown composition "The Gravy Waltz". In 1996 Allen was presented with the Martin Gardner Lifetime Achievement Award from the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSICOP). Allen wrote more than 50 books, has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Hollywood theater named in his honor.
Allen was born in New York City, the son of Billy (Carroll Abler) and Isabelle Allen (née Donohue) (Belle Montrose), a husband and wife vaudeville comedian team. Allen was raised on the South Side of Chicago by his mother's Irish Catholic family. Milton Berle once called Allen's mother "the funniest woman in vaudeville."
Allen's first radio job was on station KOY in Phoenix, Arizona, after he left Arizona State Teachers College (now Arizona State University) in Tempe, while still a sophomore. He enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II and was trained as an infantryman. He spent his service time at Camp Roberts, California, and did not serve overseas. Allen returned to Phoenix before deciding to move back to California.
Allen became an announcer for KFAC in Los Angeles and then moved to the Mutual Broadcasting System in 1946, talking the station into airing a five-nights-a-week comedy show, Smile Time, co-starring Wendell Noble. After Allen moved to CBS Radio's KNX in Los Angeles, his music-and-talk half-hour format gradually changed to include more talk on a full-hour, late-night show, boosting his popularity and creating standing-room-only studio audiences. During a show's segment that was supposed to be an interview of Doris Day, the star failed to appear, so Allen picked up a microphone and went into the audience to ad lib on-air for the first time. His radio show attracted a huge local following, and in 1950 it replaced Our Miss Brooks, exposing Allen to a national audience for the first time.
Allen's first television experience had come in 1949 when he answered an ad for a TV announcer for professional wrestling. He knew nothing about wrestling, so he watched some shows and discovered that the announcers did not have well-defined names for the holds. When he got the job, he created names for many of the holds, some of which are still used today.
After CBS radio gave Allen a weekly prime time show, CBS television believed it could groom him for national small-screen stardom and gave Allen his first network television show. The Steve Allen Show premiered at 11 am on Christmas Day, 1950, and was later moved into a thirty-minute, early evening slot. This new show required him to uproot his family and move from LA to New York, since at that time a coast to coast program could not originate from LA. The show was canceled in 1952, after which CBS tried several shows to showcase Allen's talent.
Allen achieved national attention when he was pressed into service at the last minute to host Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts because Godfrey was unable to appear. Allen turned one of Godfrey's live Lipton commercials upside down, preparing tea and instant soup on camera and then pouring both into Godfrey's ukulele. With the audience (including Godfrey, watching from Miami) uproariously and thoroughly entertained, Allen gained major recognition as a comedian and host.
He was a regular on the popular panel game show What's My Line? (where he coined the popular phrase, "Is it bigger than a breadbox?") from 1953 to 1954 and returned frequently as a panelist after Fred Allen died in March 1956, until the series ended in 1967.
The Tonight Show
Leaving CBS, he created a late-night New York talk-variety TV program debuting in June 1953 on WNBT-TV what is now WNBC-TV. The following year, on September 27, 1954, the show went on the full NBC network as The Tonight Show, with fellow radio personality Gene Rayburn (who later went on to host hit game shows such as Match Game, 1962–1982) as the original announcer. The show ran from 11:15 pm to 1:00 am on the East Coast.
While Today developer Sylvester "Pat" Weaver is often credited as the Tonight creator, Allen often pointed out that he had previously created it as a local New York show. Allen told his nationwide audience that first evening: "This is Tonight, and I can't think of too much to tell you about it except I want to give you the bad news first: this program is going to go on forever... you think you're tired now. Wait until you see one o'clock roll around!"
It was as host of The Tonight Show that Allen pioneered the "man on the street" interviews and audience-participation comedy breaks that have become commonplace on late-night TV.
The Steve Allen Show
In June 1956, NBC offered Allen a new, prime-time, Sunday night variety hour, The Steve Allen Show, aimed at dethroning CBS's top-rated The Ed Sullivan Show. The show included a typical run of star performers, including early TV appearances by rock n' roll pioneers Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino. Many popular television and film personalities were guest stars, including Bob Hope, Kim Novak, Errol Flynn, Abbott and Costello, Esther Williams, Jerry Lewis, Martha Raye, the Three Stooges, and a host of others.
The show's regulars were Tom Poston, Louis Nye, Bill Dana, Don Knotts, Pat Harrington, Jr., Dayton Allen, and Gabriel Dell. All except film veteran Dell were relatively obscure performers prior to their stints with Allen, and all went on to stardom. The comedians in Allen's gang were often seen in "The Man in the Street," featuring interviews about some topical subject. Poston would appear as a dullard who could not remember his own name; Nye was "Gordon Hathaway," fey Madison Avenue executive; Dana played amiable Latino "Jose Jimenez"; Knotts was an exceedingly jittery man who, when asked if he was nervous, invariably replied with an alarmed "No!"; Harrington was Italian immigrant "Guido Panzini"; Dayton Allen played wild-eyed zanies answering any given question with "Why not?". Gabe Dell usually played straight men in sketches (policemen, newsmen, dramatic actors, etc.). Dell was also one of the original Dead End Kids and often played the character Boris Nadel, a Bela Lugosi/Dracula lookalike.
Other recurring routines included "Crazy Shots" (also known as "Wild Pictures"), a series of sight gags accompanied by Allen on piano; Allen inviting audience members to select three musical notes at random, and then composing a song based on the three notes; a satire on radio's long-running The Answer Man and a precursor to Johnny Carson's Carnac the Magnificent (Sample answer: "Et tu, Brute."/Allen's reply: "How many pizzas did you eat, Caesar?")
The live Sunday night show aired opposite The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS and Maverick on ABC. One of Allen's guests was comedian Johnny Carson, a future successor to Allen as host of The Tonight Show. Among Carson's material during that appearance was a portrayal of how a poker game between Allen, Sullivan, and Maverick star James Garner (all impersonated by Carson) would transpire. Allen's programs also featured a good deal of music; he helped the careers of singers Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, who were regulars on his early Tonight Show, and Sammy Davis, Jr.
Allen's show also had one of the longest unscripted "crack-ups" on live TV when Allen began laughing hysterically during "Big Bill Allen's Sports Roundup." He laughed uncontrollably for over a minute, with the audience laughing along, because, as he later explained, he caught sight of his unkempt hair on an off-camera monitor. He kept brushing his hair and changing hats to hide the messy hair, and the more he tried to correct his appearance the funnier it got.
Allen helped the recently invented Polaroid camera become popular by demonstrating its use in live commercials and amassed a huge windfall for his work because he had opted to be paid in Polaroid Corporation stock.
Allen remained host of "Tonight" for three nights a week (Monday and Tuesday nights were taken up by guests hosts for most of the summer of 1956; then by Ernie Kovacs through January) until early 1957, when he left the "Tonight" show to devote his attention to the Sunday night program. It was his (and NBC's) hope that The Steve Allen Show could defeat Ed Sullivan in the ratings. Nevertheless, the TV Western Maverick often bested both The Ed Sullivan Show and The Steve Allen Show in audience size. In September 1959, Allen relocated to Los Angeles and left Sunday night television (the 1959–'60 season originated from NBC Color City in Burbank as The Steve Allen Plymouth Show, on Monday nights). Back in Los Angeles, he continued to write songs, hosted other variety shows, and wrote books and articles about comedy.
After being cancelled by NBC in 1960, the show returned in the fall of 1961 on ABC. Nye, Poston, Harrington, Dell, and Dayton Allen returned. New cast members were Joey Forman, Buck Henry, the Smothers Brothers, Tim Conway, and Allen's wife, Jayne Meadows. The new version was cancelled after fourteen episodes.
Later TV projects
From 1962 to 1964, Allen recreated The Tonight Show on a new late night show, The Steve Allen Show, which was syndicated by Westinghouse TV. The five-nights-a-week taped show was broadcast from an old vaudeville theater renamed The Steve Allen Playhouse on 1228 N. Vine St. in Hollywood. (Several sources have erroneously identified Allen's show using the name of his theater.)
The show was marked by the same wild, unpredictable stunts, and comedy skits that often extended across the side street to an all night food outlet known as the Hollywood Ranch Market, where he had a hidden camera spying on unsuspecting shoppers. On one show, he had an elephant race down the side street, much to the annoyance of the occupants of the neighboring houses. On this show, he originated the term "little black things" in reference to anything regarding food, and the term "larger than Steve Allen's breadbox" in reference to any item under discussion. He also presented Southern California eccentrics, including health food advocate Gypsy Boots, quirky physics professor Dr. Julius Sumner Miller, wacko comic Prof. Irwin Corey, and an early musical performance by Frank Zappa.
During one episode, Allen placed a telephone call to the home of Johnny Carson, posing as a ratings company interviewer, asking Carson if the television was on, and what program he was watching. Carson did not immediately realize the caller was Allen. A rarity is the exchange between Allen and Carson about Carson's guests, permitting him to plug his own show on a competing network.
One notable program, which Westinghouse refused to distribute, featured Lenny Bruce during the time the comic was repeatedly being arrested on obscenity charges; footage from this program was first telecast in 1998 in a Bruce documentary aired on HBO. Regis Philbin briefly took over hosting the Westinghouse show in 1964.
The show also featured plenty of jazz played by Allen and members of the show's band, the Donn Trenner Orchestra, which included such virtuoso musicians as guitarist Herb Ellis and flamboyantly comedic hipster trombonist Frank Rosolino (whom Allen credited with originating the "Hiyo!" chant later popularized by Ed McMahon). While the show was not an overwhelming success in its day, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Robin Williams, and a number of other prominent comedians have cited Allen's "Westinghouse show," which they watched as teenagers, as being highly influential on their own comedic visions.
Allen later produced a second half-hour show for Westinghouse, titled Jazz Scene USA, which featured West Coast jazz musicians such as Rosolino, Stan Kenton, and Teddy Edwards. The short-lived show was hosted by Oscar Brown, Jr.
Allen hosted a number of television programs up until the 1980s, including The New Steve Allen Show in 1961 and the game show I've Got a Secret (replacing original host Garry Moore) in 1964. In the summer of 1967, he brought most of the regulars from over the years back with The Steve Allen Comedy Hour, featuring the debuts of Rob Reiner, Richard Dreyfuss, and John Byner and featuring Ruth Buzzi, who would become famous soon after on Laugh-In. In 1968–71, he returned to syndicated nightly variety-talk with the same wacky stunts that would influence David Letterman in later years, including becoming a human hood ornament; jumping into vats of oatmeal and cottage cheese; and being slathered with dog food, allowing dogs backstage to feast on the free food. During the run of this series, Allen also introduced Albert Brooks and Steve Martin to a national audience for the first time.
A syndicated version of I've Got A Secret hosted by Allen and featuring panelists Pat Carroll and Richard Dawson was taped in Hollywood and aired during the 1972–73 season. In 1977, he produced Steve Allen's Laugh-Back, a syndicated series combining vintage Allen film clips with new talk-show material reuniting his 1950s TV gang. From 1986 through 1988, Allen hosted a daily three-hour comedy show heard nationally on the NBC Radio Network that featured sketches and America's best-known comedians as regular guests. His cohost was radio personality Mark Simone, and they were joined frequently by comedy writers Larry Gelbart, Herb Sargent, and Bob Einstein.
From 1977 until 1981, Allen wrote and hosted the show Meeting of Minds, which aired on the Public Broadcasting Service. In the show, actors "portrayed historic individuals engaging in spirited, at times heated, debates, over issues such as racism, women's rights, crime and punishment, and religious toleration." Allen first had the concept for the show in 1959, but took almost twenty years to make it happen.
In 1963, Allen's national fan club was headed up by two ten-year-old boys from Minnesota, Fred Frandle and Brian Tolzmann. Brian Tolzmann conducted one of the final interviews with Allen, in August 2000.
Allen was a prolific composer who (according to his own estimate) wrote over 8,500 songs, although only a small fraction of these were ever recorded. He began his recording career in 1953 by signing with Decca Records's Brunswick Records sublabel. In one famous stunt, he made a bet with singer-songwriter Frankie Laine that he could write 50 songs a day for a week. Composing on public display in the window of Wallachs Music City, 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" (lyrics and music) and "The Gravy Waltz" (lyrics). "This Could Be the Start of Something" dates from 1954, and was recorded by numerous artists including Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Aretha Franklin, Lionel Hampton, and Oscar Peterson. Allen used it as the theme song of The Tonight Show in 1956/57, and as the theme song to many of his later television projects as well.
"The Gravy Waltz" was actually composed and originally performed by Ray Brown as an instrumental in the early 1960s; Allen later set words to it. "The Gravy Waltz" won the 1964 Grammy Award for Best Original Jazz Composition. Issued as a single in 1963, it had hit #64 on the US Billboard charts. Though the hit single version was credited to "Steve Allen With Donn Trenner And His Orchestra", Allen did not play on it, and as it was an instrumental recording, he did not actually participate of the writing of it either (though as lyricist he received co-composer credit).
Allen also set lyrics for the 1950s standard "Picnic", which was a #13 US hit in a vocal version for The McGuire Sisters in 1956. The song, however, is chiefly remembered as an instrumental, often performed in a medley with "Moonglow". Two instrumental versions charted in the US top 5 in 1956, including a #1 hit version by Morris Stoloff; Allen was not credited as a songwriter for these instrumental versions.
Similarly, some time in the 1950s, Allen set words to "South Rampart Street Parade", a 1938 instrumental hit for Bob Crosby, written by Bob Haggart and Ray Bauduc. Though the song is still best known as an instrumental, Allen's later lyrics are occasionally performed.
In the realm of theatre, Allen wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical Sophie, which was based on the early career of "The Last of the Red-Hot Mamas", entertainer Sophie Tucker. The book for the show was by Philip Pruneau; Libi Staiger and Art Lund were featured in the leading roles. "Sophie" opened at the Winter Garden Theatre after tryouts in three cities on April 15, 1963, to mostly unfavorable critical notices; it closed five days later on April 20, after eight performances. As Ken Mandelbaum noted in his 1991 book "Not Since Carrie" –
The show received consistently negative reviews in Columbus, Detroit, Philadelphia and New York, and its problems were obvious: a cliché-ridden standard show-biz bio book, and an ordinary score... the score went unrecorded (by the cast), although several months later Judy Garland sang three songs from Sophie on her CBS television series.
Though Mandelbaum doesn't mention it, Allen was a guest on the episode of The Judy Garland Show wherein she featured Allen's songs from Sophie. A "compiled" recording of Sophie was later released with vocals by Allen, Libi Staiger, Judy Garland and others.
Allen's other produced musical was the 1969 London show Belle Starr, which starred Betty Grable; Allen wrote the music, and was one of three credited lyricists. Belle Starr was also poorly reviewed, in both its Glasgow tryout and in its London run, and closed after 12 performances. Like Sophie, the score went unrecorded by the cast. No compiled recording of the Belle Starr score has been made.
Allen also composed the score to the Paul Mantee imitation James Bond film A Man Called Dagger (1967), with the score orchestrated by Ronald Stein.
Allen was an occasional actor. He wrote and starred in his first film, the Mack Sennett comedy compilation Down Memory Lane, in 1949. His most famous film appearance is in 1955's The Benny Goodman Story, in the title role. The film, while an average biopic of its day, was heralded for its music, featuring many alumni of the Goodman band. Allen later recalled his one contribution to the film's music, used in the film's early scenes: the accomplished Benny Goodman could no longer produce the sound of a clarinet beginner, and that was the only sound Allen could make on a clarinet! In 1960, he appeared as the character "Dr. Ellison" in the episode "Play Acting" of CBS's anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson though his The Steve Allen Show had been in competition with the June Allyson program the preceding season.
From 1977 to 1981, Allen was the producer of the award-winning PBS series, Meeting of Minds, a "talk show" with actors playing the parts of notable historical figures and Allen as the host. Allen originally intended to broadcast Meeting of Minds as a segment of his weekly The Steve Allen Show television program, but the show's sponsor, The Chrysler Corporation, raised objections and the segment plans were cancelled. Allen produced a version in 1971 that aired locally in Los Angeles and earned three local Emmy awards. The later PBS series pitted the likes of Socrates, Marie Antoinette, Thomas Paine, Sir Thomas More, Attila the Hun, Karl Marx, Emily Dickinson, Charles Darwin, and Galileo Galilei in dialogue and argument. This was the show Allen wanted to be remembered for, because he believed that the issues and characters were timeless and would survive long after his death.
A similar Canadian television series called Witness to Yesterday, created by Arthur Voronka, aired three years after Allen's local-Emmy-award winning program. Steve Allen appeared on a 1976 episode of Witness to Yesterday as George Gershwin.
During the late 1980s, Allen and his second wife Jayne Meadows made three appearances on the drama St. Elsewhere. They played Victor Erlich's estranged birth parents, who had given him up for adoption. In 1998 Allen guest starred with his wife Jayne Meadows in an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street.
Allen was a comedy writer and author of more than 50 books, including several volumes of autobiography; children's books; a series of mystery novels; and numerous volumes of essays and opinions. Twenty of his books were concerned with his views about religion. Perhaps influenced by his son's involvement with a religious cult, he became an outspoken critic of organized religion and an active member of such humanist and skeptical organizations as the Council for Media Integrity, a group that debunked pseudoscientific claims.
Amongst Allen's better known non-fiction works were Dumbth, a commentary on the American educational system, and Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, and Morality. Allen also ostensibly authored a long-running series of mystery novels in the 1980s and 90s "starring" himself and wife Jayne Meadows as amateur sleuths; they were later revealed to have been ghostwritten by Walter J. Sheldon, and later Robert Westbrook.
Allen and rock music
While Allen was often critical of rock 'n' roll music, he often booked rock 'n' roll acts on his television program, The Steve Allen Show. The program featured acts like Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Louis Jordan & the Tympany Five, the Treniers, and the Collins Kids. Allen famously scooped Ed Sullivan by being one of the first to present Elvis Presley on network television (after Presley had appeared on the Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey Stage Show and Milton Berle shows). Presley was an exceedingly controversial act at the time, but "Allen found a way... to satisfy the Puritans. He assured viewers that he would not allow Presley 'to do anything that will offend anyone.' NBC announced that a 'revamped, purified and somewhat abridged Presley' had agreed to sing while standing reasonably still, dressed in black tie." Allen had Elvis wear a top hat and the white tie while singing "Hound Dog" to an actual hound, who was similarly attired.
The singer was also featured in a country music sketch with Allen, Andy Griffith, and Imogene Coca. The sketch was consistent with other situations in which Allen had singers in such comic scenarios on his show, in contrast to the simple "singing in front of a curtain" style of the Sullivan show. The house singers on the early Tonight show were similarly incorporated into the program's sketches. In addition, Allen's skit with Presley actually was less a put-down of Presley and mainly a satire of country music stage shows like the Grand Ole Opry and the Louisiana Hayride, the Shreveport-based country music radio show (over KWKH) on which Presley performed in 1954 and 1955.
In a 1996 interview Allen was asked about the show. Asked if NBC executives expressed any concerns about Elvis's planned appearance, Allen replied that he'd "read more nonsense about " it, and "a lot of wrong reports have gotten into the public". "If there ever was, I never heard about it. And since it was my show, I think it would have brought to my attention. " Regarding Elvis's movements he stated "No! I took no objection to the movements I'd seen him make on the Dorsey Brothers show. I didn't see a problem. Of course, I had read about some of the controversy, much of it generated by Ed Sullivan, who was opposite of our show on CBS. It didn't matter to me. I was using good production sense in booking him."
In his book Hi-Ho Steverino! Allen wrote the following: "When I booked Elvis, I naturally had no interest in just presenting him vaudeville-style and letting him do his spot as he might in concert. Instead we worked him into the comedy fabric of our program." "We certainly didn't inhibit Elvis' then-notorious pelvic gyrations, but I think the fact that he had on formal evening attire made him, purely on his own, slightly alter his presentation."
Allen also appeared on the shows of entertainers, even the rock and roll program The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom on ABC.
In the late 1970s early 1980s, Allen recorded a solo piano Pianocorder album for the Pianocorder Contemporary Artists Series, joining other artists-pianists of the day such as Liberace, Floyd Cramer, Teddy Wilson, Roger Williams, and Johnny Guarnieri. His solo album was popular. Pianocorder was founded by Joseph Tushinsky. The Pianocorder was the first modern mechanical player piano made for the public that used solenoids to power the keys. Later, it was bought out by Yamaha Disklavier and discontinued and is known today as the Yamaha Disklavier.
The 1985 documentary film Kerouac, the Movie starts and ends with footage of Jack Kerouac reading from On the Road as Allen accompanies on soft jazz piano from The Steve Allen Plymouth Show in 1959. "Are you nervous?" Allen asks him; Kerouac answers nervously, "Noo," a take-off on the character usually played by Don Knotts.
In 1986, Steve Allen was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.
Allen appeared in a PSA advocating for New Eyes for the Needy in the 1990s.
Also, Allen made a cameo appearance at Wrestlemania VI in a skit with The Bolsheviks. Allen told the Bolsheviks that he was going to play the Soviet National Anthem while The Bolsheviks sang along; however, Allen simply stalled playing other notes while never actually playing the anthem. He later appeared as a guest commentator during a match later on in the show.
Prior to his death Allen also narrated The Unreal Story of Professional Wrestling, a documentary of professional wrestling from its origins to 1998.
Allen was married to Dorothy Goodman in 1943 and they had three children, Steve Jr., Brian, and David. That marriage ended in divorce in 1952. Allen's second wife was actress Jayne Meadows, sister to actress Audrey Meadows. The marriage of Allen and Meadows produced one son, Bill Allen. They were married in Waterford, Connecticut, on July 31, 1954. They remained married until his death in 2000.
Allen received a traditional Irish Catholic upbringing. He later became a secular humanist and Humanist Laureate for the Academy of Humanism, a member of CSICOP and the Council for Secular Humanism. He received the Rose Elizabeth Bird Commitment to Justice Award from Death Penalty Focus in 1998. He was a student and supporter of general semantics, recommending it in Dumbth and giving the Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture in 1992. In spite of his liberal position on free speech, his later concerns about the lewdness he saw on radio and television, particularly the programs of Howard Stern, caused him to make proposals restricting the content of programs, allying himself with the Parents Television Council. His full-page ad on the subject appeared in newspapers just before his unexpected death.
Allen made a last appearance on The Tonight Show on September 27, 1994, for the show's 40th anniversary broadcast. Jay Leno was effusive in praise and actually knelt down and kissed his ring.
He was a Democrat whereas his wife was a Republican.
On October 30, 2000, Allen was driving on Valley Vista Blvd. towards his son's home in Encino, California, when the driver's side of his 1993 Cadillac Seville was struck by a car backing out of a driveway. Neither Allen nor the other driver believed he was injured, and since damage to both their vehicles was minimal, the two exchanged insurance information and Allen continued on. Shortly after arriving at his son's home he appeared to be confused and shaky. He told his family he was not feeling well and lost his balance when climbing up the six steps of the front porch. He sat on the sofa for a few minutes, appeared better and was talking with family members. He walked into the kitchen to talk with other family members and then said he was going to the bathroom. He didn't mention anything about the car crash.
After not returning in a short time, his son became concerned, and when there was no response to knocking at the door, he entered the bathroom. Allen was found sitting on the toilet slumped to one side and making a snoring sound. He was moved to the floor and 911 was called. Paramedics were summoned, but could not revive Allen. The postmortem revealed that he had not suffered major injuries from the car accident (broken ribs and a collapsed lung were the result of attempted CPR) and the cause of death was a massive heart attack caused by a hemopericardium from a ruptured artery. Allen's personal physician believed it had been triggered by shock due to the collision which was aggravated by his age and pre existing coronary artery disease. He had not bothered to tell his family about the car accident, and they were unaware of it until after his death.
He is interred in an unmarked grave at Forest Lawn Memorial Park-Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles.
Allen has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – a television star at 1720 Vine St. and a radio star at 1537 Vine St.
- Soulful Brass (1968)
Allen was keenly interested in social justice and wrote pamphlets on a variety of issues, including the problems facing migrant workers, as well as the problems of capital punishment and nuclear weapons proliferation. He once considered running for Congress from California, calling his politics "middle-of-the-road radicalism". He actively campaigned against obscenity on television and criticized comedians such as George Carlin and Lenny Bruce for use of expletives in their stand-up routines.