Marty Allen, the baby-faced, bug-eyed comedian with wild black hair who was a staple of TV variety shows, game shows and talk shows for decades, died Monday night. He was 95.
His spokeswoman Candi Cazau says Allen died Monday night of complications from pneumonia. His wife and performing partner Karon Kate Blackwell was by his side.
The baby-faced, bug-eyed comic whose catchphrase was “hello dere” was a staple of night clubs and TV variety shows in the 1950s and 60s.
He first found fame in the duo Allen & Rossi with partner Steve Rossi, who died in 2014. They were favourites on The Ed Sullivan Show, and appeared on the same episodes as The Beatles.
“Everyone remembers those shows with The Beatles, and they were great, but we appeared on all the shows,” Allen said in 2014. “There wasn’t a talk show on TV that didn’t want Allen & Rossi.”
The duo, who also released comedy albums, split up amicably in 1968, and Allen took on a series of serious roles on daytime television and made-for-TV movies.
Allen was a regular on The Hollywood Squares, the early years of Match Game and other game shows, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and other talk shows hosted by Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore, Della Reese and Mike Douglas, and episodes of the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast.
Allen also regularly performed throughout his career at Las Vegas casinos.
Allen was born in Pittsburgh and served in Italy in the Army Air Corps in World War II, earning a Soldier’s medal for valor.
He was married to Lorraine (Frenchy) Allen from 1960, who he appeared with on the couples game show Tattletales, until she died in 1976.
Then in 1984 he married Blackwell, a singer-songwriter who became his performing partner in his last decades and acted as the goofy Allen’s “straight man” just as Rossi did half a century earlier.
He kept making crowds laugh into his mid-90s.
“It’s unbelievable to be 94 years old,” Marty Allen told a New York audience in 2016. “My wife says, `What do you want for your birthday?’ I told her, `An antique.’ So she framed my birth certificate.”