Stephen “Steve” Allen was an American television personality who is most remembered for being the first host of ‘The Tonight Show,’ which revolutionized the notion of television talk shows. Before coming to television, the multidimensional personality began his career as a radio host. He’s also a gifted musician who’s written hundreds of songs—over 14,000 to be exact. He has hosted several radio shows, hosted talk shows and game shows on television, worked as a comedian, created music, played the piano, published many books, and starred in a few films over his long and busy career spanning over five decades. He is well recognized for his television career and is well-liked and regarded for his flexibility. Show business was a natural choice for the lively little kid, who was born to a famous comedienne. His mother, who was reportedly dubbed “the funniest lady in vaudeville,” gave him his charm and sense of humour. He rose to national prominence after being invited to stand in as a guest presenter on ‘Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts,’ when he performed a hilarious act that had the crowd giggling. This paved the way for him to become a well-known performer and television personality.
Childhood and Adolescence
Billy and Isabelle Allen were his parents. His mother was a well-known vaudeville performer who went by the stage name Belle Montrose. His mother instilled in him the ability to amuse. He attended at Arizona State Teachers College but dropped out before completing his studies to join the US Army during WWII.
Career of Steve Allen
He went on to work for KFAC in Los Angeles as a radio broadcaster. He joined Mutual Broadcasting System in 1946 and began hosting ‘Smile Time,’ a comedy show. With the passage of time, he began to play around with the forms of his presentations. He accepted a position as a music and chat program presenter with CBS Radio. He eventually turned it into a late-night chat show, which made him famous. By 1950, his show had become one of the most popular on the radio.
In 1949, he noticed an advertising for professional wrestling presenters on television. Despite his lack of expertise of the sport, he applied and was hired. The young man’s promise was discovered by CBS television, which felt he might be trained to perform better. On Christmas Day, 1950, he became the presenter of ‘The Steve Allen Show,’ which aired for the first time.
When he was asked to come in as a guest presenter for ‘Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts,’ he became a huge hit. By brewing tea and soup and putting both into a ukulele, he converted a live tea advertisement into a comic performance.
He began appearing on the game program ‘What’s My Line?’ in 1953 and later became a panelist after Fred Allen died. He stayed with the show till it ended in 1967. In 1954, he became the presenter of ‘Tonight Starring Steve Allen,’ the initial version of what would later be known as ‘The Tonight Show.’ The program was extremely popular and had a lengthy run of popularity. He stayed on the show until 1957.
In 1956, he began presenting ‘The Steve Allen Show.’ It was a variety show that aired on NBC until 1960. Following that, from 1962 to 1964, it was syndicated. It was a critically acclaimed and award-winning production. From 1964 until 1973, he hosted the Mark Goodson and Bill Todman-produced panel game program “I’ve Got a Secret.” He also composed the show’s soundtrack.
From 1977 to 1981, he created the PSB series ‘Meeting of Minds.’ The show included actors portraying historical characters who were interviewed by Allen. He considered the program to be one of his favorites, having earned several honors for its inventiveness.
He wrote a number of comedic works, including ‘Dumbth.’ ‘Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, and Morality,’ for example, was one of his religious works. He was a vocal opponent of organized religion. He was a music composer who has written hundreds of songs. He composed music and lyrics for Broadway musicals and films on a regular basis.
Major Projects of Steve Allen
He is most known for being the inaugural host of ‘The Tonight Program,’ a late-night talk show. He is credited with inventing the opening monologue, celebrity interviews, comic bits, and audience participation, all of which were eventually adopted by a number of other shows.
Another of his immensely successful shows was ‘The Steve Allen Show.’ Don Knotts, Tom Poston, and Bill Dana were among the cast members who got their start on the variety program. Allen also inspired a number other musicians through this concert.
Achievements & Awards
In 1958, ‘The Steve Allen Show’ received a Peabody Award for “real humor and honest explorations.”
In 1963, he received a Grammy Award for outstanding jazz composition for his tune “The Gravy Waltz.”
Death Penalty Focus awarded him with the Rose Elizabeth Bird Commitment to Justice Award in 1998.
Personal History and Legacy
In 1943, he married Dorothy Goodman and had three boys. In 1952, the couple divorced. In 1954, he married actress Jayne Meadows for the second time. They only had one child. They were married for over four decades, until he died.
In the year 2000, he was engaged in a minor vehicle accident. He had not been concerned because there were no external injuries. However, the accident’s shock led him to have a major heart attack, and he died as a result. He was 78 years old at the time.
Estimated Net Worth
Steve Allen was an American television and radio personality, musician, actor, composer, writer, and comedian who died in 2000 with a net worth of $18 million. Steve Allen was born in December 1921 in New York City, New York, and died in October 2000.