Steve Allen

TV Personality / Writer / Composer

Born: 26 December 1921
Died: 30 October 2000 (heart failure)
Birthplace: New York, New York
Best known as:

The original host of The Tonight Show

Steve Allen was the original host of TV's The Tonight Show, but by the end of his career he was more famous for being multi-talented than for any individual achievement. (His official website called him a "one-man creative conglomerate.") Steve Allen was the host of the long-running Tonight Show from its first New York broadcast in 1953 until 1957, when he was replaced by Jack Paar. (Allen is often credited with pioneering the "man on the street" and audience-participation comedy bits which became a staple of late-night TV.) He hosted other comedy and variety shows on various networks from the 1950s through the 1980s, and emceed the game show I've Got A Secret. From 1977-81 he wrote and starred in A Meeting of Minds, a fictional talk show starring famous figures from history. On film he played jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman in the 1955 movie The Benny Goodman Story. Steve Allen also claimed to have composed more than 7900 songs; in one famous stunt he dashed off 400 quickie tunes in one day. His best-known song is probably This Could Be The Start of Something Big, and his Gravy Waltz won a 1963 Grammy as best jazz composition. He was the author of over 50 books, including The Talk Show Murders (1982). An autopsy after Steve Allen's death revealed that his fatal heart failure was likely caused by a minor traffic accident earlier the same day.

Extra credit:

Steve Allen's second wife was the actress Jayne Meadows, sister of The Honeymooners star Audrey Meadows.

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