Steve Allen

From Academic Kids

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Stephen Valentine Patrick William Allen (December 26, 1921October 30, 2000) was a 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."

After years in radio, Allen became the original host of The Tonight Show, from its first New York broadcast in 1953, up until 1957, when he was replaced by Jack Paar. It was as host of the Tonight Show that Allen pioneered the "man on the street" and audience-participation comedy bits that have become commonplace in late-night TV.

Allen went on to host a slew of television programs up until the 1980s, including the game show I've Got a Secret and The New Steve Allen Show in 1961. He was a regular on the extremely popular panel game show What's My Line? from 1953 to 1954 and returning as a guest panelist until the series' end in 1967.

Allen was also a composer who supposedly wrote over 7000 songs. In one famous stunt, Allen wrote 400 simple tunes in a single day. 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 1955's The Benny Goodman Story.

Allen was also the producer of the award-winning PBS series Meeting of Minds, a "talk show" with notable historical figures, with Steve Allen serving as host. This series pitted Socrates, Marie Antoinette, Thomas Paine, Sir Thomas More, Attila the Hun, Karl Marx, Emily Dickinson, Charles Darwin, Galileo Galilei, and other historical figures in dialogue and argument. A proposed revival of this show was rejected as "too cerebral".

He was also an accomplished comedy writer, and author of over 50 books, including Dumbth, a commentary on the American educational system, and Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, and Morality.

Allen was a secular humanist and Humanist Laureate for the Academy of Humanism, a member of CSICOP and the Council for Secular Humanism. Allen was a supporter of world government and served on the World Federalist Association Board of Advisers [1] ( 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.

Allen was married to Jayne Meadows from 1954 until his death in 2000. He died of heart failure and is interred in the Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery 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.



Songs include:

  • "This Could Be the Start of Something Big"
  • "The Gravy Waltz"


Allen's series of mystery novels "starring" himself and wife Jayne Meadows was actually ghostwritten by Walter J. Sheldon, and later Robert Westbrook)


"How many humanists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Ten: one to screw in the lightbulb and nine to fight for the right to do so!"

External links


Preceded by:
Host of The Tonight Show
1954 – 1956
Succeeded by:
Steve Allen & Ernie Kovacs
Preceded by:
Steve Allen
Host of The Tonight Show
(with Ernie Kovacs)

1956 – 1957
Succeeded by:
Jack Paar

Template:End boxde:Steve Allen


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