If watching CBS-TV's, wholesome Ed Sullivan Show was a Sunday night tradition from 1948 to 1971, then his multi-talented competitor,on NBC-TV,for much of the late 1950's, Steve Allen, will always be remembered for offering fast and furious,adult comedy as an attractive, programming alternative.
Stephen Valentine Patrick William Allen (12/26/1921 to 10/30/2000), who was the son of the legendary vaudevillians, Belle Montrose and Billy Allen, seemed to have comedy in his DNA. Born in New York City, he was raised by his mother's family in a Chicago, working class neighborhood.
Allen's early, unscripted work on Arizona radio, as a disc jockey, demonstrated a range of ad-libbing ability, rarely matched in show business. He moved quickly to broadcast wrestling matches and host his own show,Smile Time, on Los Angeles radio . A major success in California, Allen soon headed East to star in national shows on CBS Radio and Television. He was recruited by NBC to host a local , late night, television show , sponsored by Knickerbocker Beer, in New York, which went national. It morphed into the original Tonight Show in 1954.
For a short time, he hosted the Tonight Show and a Sunday night , variety program designed to compete with Ed Sullivan. He left Tonight in 1956 to concentrate on the Sunday night show and his movie career. On that Sunday show ,he introduced America to Elvis Presley ( seen below and to the right with Allen and entertainer Imogene Coca) before the Rock and Roll icon ever set foot on Ed Sullivan' s stage.
Allen had a facile, inventive mind. In his lifetime ,he performed on countless television and radio shows,he authored over 50 books, and wrote thousands of songs. His ability to capitalize on the comedy in any given moment on stage is amazing and astonishing.
Here is a rare series of clips that comprise the June 2, 1957 episode of The Steve Allen Show, which aired at 8pm Eastern Time, Sunday evenings on NBC-TV. Notice the trademark, opening segment, called Crazy Shots, which were TV tailored, sight gags. Allen's omni-present and comedically potent, stock company, including Louis Nye, is front and center with guests like superstar Jerry Lewis, The Diamond's and his mother, Belle Montrose. Enjoy!!!!