Fred Allen

Town Hall Tonight[Fred] AllenAllen's AlleyThe Fred Allen Showthe host
John Florence Sullivan (May 31, 1894 – March 17, 1956), known professionally as Fred Allen, was an American comedian.wikipedia
331 Related Articles

Golden Age of Radio

old-time radioradioold time radio
His absurdist, topically pointed radio program The Fred Allen Show (1932–1949) made him one of the most popular and forward-looking humorists in the Golden Age of American radio.
Radio attracted top comedy talents from vaudeville and Hollywood for many years: Abbott and Costello, Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Victor Borge, Fanny Brice, Billie Burke, Bob Burns, Judy Canova, Eddie Cantor, Jimmy Durante, Phil Harris, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Jean Shepherd, Red Skelton and Ed Wynn.

What's My Line?

What's My LineWhat’s My LineBritish version of ''What's My Line?
Many years later, when he and Oscar Hammerstein II appeared as mystery guests on What's My Line?, Rodgers recalled Allen's act, sitting on the edge of the stage, his legs dangling down, playing a banjo while telling jokes.
Allen left in 1954 to launch The Tonight Show, and he was replaced by comedian Fred Allen (no relation), who remained on the panel until his death in 1956.

Herman Wouk

WoukWouk, Herman
A master ad libber, Allen often tangled with his network's executives (and often barbed them on the air over the battles) while developing routines whose style and substance influenced fellow comic talents, including Groucho Marx, Stan Freberg, Henry Morgan and Johnny Carson; his avowed fans also included President Franklin D. Roosevelt and novelists William Faulkner, John Steinbeck and Herman Wouk (who began his career writing for Allen).
Soon thereafter, he became a radio dramatist, working in David Freedman's "Joke Factory" and later with Fred Allen for five years and then, in 1941, for the United States government, writing radio spots to sell war bonds.

Richard Rodgers

RodgersR. RodgersRogers
Their musical director was a nineteen-year-old Richard Rodgers.
Among the stars he accompanied were Nora Bayes and Fred Allen.

Henry Morgan (humorist)

Henry MorganThe Henry Morgan Showhumorist of the same name
A master ad libber, Allen often tangled with his network's executives (and often barbed them on the air over the battles) while developing routines whose style and substance influenced fellow comic talents, including Groucho Marx, Stan Freberg, Henry Morgan and Johnny Carson; his avowed fans also included President Franklin D. Roosevelt and novelists William Faulkner, John Steinbeck and Herman Wouk (who began his career writing for Allen).
Morgan had his fans and his professional admirers, including authors Robert Benchley and James Thurber, fellow radio humorists Fred Allen, Jack Benny, and Fanny Brice, future Today Show host Dave Garroway, and Red Skelton.

Jack Benny

The Jack Benny ProgramBennyThe Jack Benny Show
His best-remembered gag was his long-running mock feud with friend and fellow comedian Jack Benny, but it was only part of his appeal; radio historian John Dunning (in On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio) wrote that Allen was radio's most admired comedian and most frequently censored. Good friends in real life, Fred Allen and Jack Benny inadvertently hatched a running gag in 1937 when a child prodigy, violinist Stuart Canin, gave a very credible performance on the Allen show, inspiring an Allen wisecrack about "a certain alleged violinist" who should hide in shame over his poor playing.
Sometimes the sponsors were the butt of jokes, though Benny did not use this device as frequently as his friend and "rival" Fred Allen did then, or as cast member Phil Harris later did on his successful radio sitcom.

NBC

National Broadcasting CompanyNBC-TVNBC Television
Allen first hosted The Linit Bath Club Revue on CBS, moving the show to NBC and becoming The Salad Bowl Revue (in a nod to new sponsor Hellmann's Mayonnaise, which was marketed by the parent company of Linit) later in the year.
Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen, Bob Hope, Fred Allen, and Burns and Allen called NBC home, as did Arturo Toscanini's NBC Symphony Orchestra, which the network helped him create.

CBS

Columbia Broadcasting SystemCBS TelevisionCBS-TV
Allen first hosted The Linit Bath Club Revue on CBS, moving the show to NBC and becoming The Salad Bowl Revue (in a nod to new sponsor Hellmann's Mayonnaise, which was marketed by the parent company of Linit) later in the year.
NBC's venerable Fred Allen saw his ratings plummet when he was pitted against upstart ABC's game show Stop The Music!; within weeks, he was dropped by longtime sponsor Ford Motor Company and was shortly gone from the scene.

Texaco Star Theatre

The Milton Berle ShowTexaco Star TheaterThe Buick-Berle Show
In 1940, Allen moved back to CBS Radio with a new sponsor and show name, Texaco Star Theater, airing every Wednesday at 9:00 pm ET on CBS, then Sundays at 9:00 pm in the fall of 1941.
The classic 1940–44 version of the program, hosted by radio's Fred Allen, was followed by a radio series on ABC (the former NBC Blue) in the spring of 1948.

The Fred Allen Show

Fred AllenFred Allen ShowTexaco Star Theatre
His absurdist, topically pointed radio program The Fred Allen Show (1932–1949) made him one of the most popular and forward-looking humorists in the Golden Age of American radio. The inspiration for the mythical Main Street of "Allen's Alley" came from the small-town heartland folks who were often profiled in the newspaper columns written by O. O. McIntyre (1884–1938), one of the most popular columnists of the 1930s with some seven million readers.
The Fred Allen Show was a popular and long-running American old-time radio comedy program starring comedian Fred Allen and his wife Portland Hoffa.

John Brown (actor)

John Brown
Early denizens included sarcastic John Doe (John Brown), self-possessed Senator Bloat and town drunk Sampson Souse (Jack Smart), dimwitted Socrates Mulligan (Charlie Cantor), pompous poet Falstaff Openshaw (Alan Reed), and wry Jewish housewife Pansy Nussbaum (Minerva Pious).
Brown had major roles in several popular radio shows: He was "John Doe" in the Texaco Star Theater's version of Fred Allen's Allen's Alley, played Irma's love interest Al in My Friend Irma, both "Gillis" and Digby "Digger" O'Dell in The Life of Riley, (a role he reprised for the first incarnation of the television show), "Broadway" in The Damon Runyon Theatre, and "Thorny" the neighbor on the radio version of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

Portland Hoffa

Allen did, however, take something far more lasting from the show: one of the show's chorus girls, Portland Hoffa, who became his wife in 1927 and remained with him until his death.
She is remembered best as the stage and radio partner of her first husband, Fred Allen.

Johnny Carson

CarsonJohnnyJackie Carson
A master ad libber, Allen often tangled with his network's executives (and often barbed them on the air over the battles) while developing routines whose style and substance influenced fellow comic talents, including Groucho Marx, Stan Freberg, Henry Morgan and Johnny Carson; his avowed fans also included President Franklin D. Roosevelt and novelists William Faulkner, John Steinbeck and Herman Wouk (who began his career writing for Allen).
Carson's influences included Jack Benny, Red Skelton, Fred Allen, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, and Jack Paar.

Lew Fields

FieldsLewWeber and Fields
In 1921 Fred Allen and Nora Bayes toured with the company of Lew Fields.
In 1921, Fred Allen and Nora Bayes toured with Fields.

Minerva Pious

Early denizens included sarcastic John Doe (John Brown), self-possessed Senator Bloat and town drunk Sampson Souse (Jack Smart), dimwitted Socrates Mulligan (Charlie Cantor), pompous poet Falstaff Openshaw (Alan Reed), and wry Jewish housewife Pansy Nussbaum (Minerva Pious).
She was best known as the malaprop-prone Pansy Nussbaum in Fred Allen's famous "Allen's Alley" current-events skits.

Parker Fennelly

By 1945, Pious and Reed were joined by two new Alley denizens: Parker Fennelly as stoic New England farmer Titus Moody, and Kenny Delmar, the new show's announcer, as bellowing Southern senator Beauregard Claghorn.
He was heard weekly as Titus Moody on the "Allen's Alley" segment of Fred Allen's radio show where he delivered his famous opening line: "Howdy, Bub."

Alan Reed

Alan Reed, Sr.Teddy Bergman
Early denizens included sarcastic John Doe (John Brown), self-possessed Senator Bloat and town drunk Sampson Souse (Jack Smart), dimwitted Socrates Mulligan (Charlie Cantor), pompous poet Falstaff Openshaw (Alan Reed), and wry Jewish housewife Pansy Nussbaum (Minerva Pious).
Reed's radio work included having two roles in Valiant Lady, the role of Solomon Levy on Abie's Irish Rose, as the "Allen's Alley" resident poet Falstaff Openshaw on Fred Allen's NBC radio show, and later on his own five-minute show, Falstaff's Fables, on ABC, as Officer Clancey and other occasional roles on the NBC radio show Duffy's Tavern, as Shrevey the driver on several years of The Shadow, as Chester Riley's boss on the NBC radio show The Life of Riley, as Italian immigrant Pasquale in Life with Luigi on CBS radio, various supporting roles on Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show, and as Lt. Walter Levinson in several episodes of Richard Diamond, Private Detective.

Charlie Cantor

Charles Cantor
Early denizens included sarcastic John Doe (John Brown), self-possessed Senator Bloat and town drunk Sampson Souse (Jack Smart), dimwitted Socrates Mulligan (Charlie Cantor), pompous poet Falstaff Openshaw (Alan Reed), and wry Jewish housewife Pansy Nussbaum (Minerva Pious).
When "Allen's Alley", a segment in which star Fred Allen would stroll through an imaginary neighborhood conversing with imaginary neighbors, was first introduced in 1942, Cantor soon joined the list of Allen's "neighbors".

It's in the Bag! (1945 film)

It's in the Bag!It's in the BagIt's in the Bag!'' (1945 film)
The pair even appeared together in films, including Love Thy Neighbor (1940) and It's in the Bag! (1945), Allen's only starring vehicle, also featuring William Bendix, Robert Benchley, and Jerry Colonna.
It's in the Bag! is a 1945 comedy film featuring Fred Allen in his only starring film role.

Peter Donald

The Alley sketches made only one further cast change, when Peter Donald's chipper Irishman Ajax Cassidy succeeded Reed's Falstaff.
He was famed as the character of Ajax Cassidy on Fred Allen's radio show, the Irishman who continually complained that he was "not long for this world."

Stuart Canin

Good friends in real life, Fred Allen and Jack Benny inadvertently hatched a running gag in 1937 when a child prodigy, violinist Stuart Canin, gave a very credible performance on the Allen show, inspiring an Allen wisecrack about "a certain alleged violinist" who should hide in shame over his poor playing.
On December 30, 1936, at the age of 10, he performed on the Fred Allen radio hour.

Jack Haley

The Jack Haley Show
Allen often mentioned his show-business friends on the air ("Mr. Jacob Haley of Newton Highlands, Massachusetts" was Allen's way of saying hello to his pal Jack Haley), and on the Canin broadcast Allen knew Benny would be listening.
One of his closest friends was Fred Allen, who would frequently mention "Mr. Jacob Haley of Newton Highlands, Massachusetts" on the air.

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

The Tonight ShowTonight ShowJohnny Carson
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson's "Mighty Carson Art Players" routines referenced Allen's Mighty Allen Art Players, in name and sometimes in routines.
"The Mighty Carson Art Players" (depending on one's point of view, the name was an obvious tribute to or ripoff of radio legend Fred Allen's Mighty Allen Art Players). While Carson's show was primarily a talk show, with performances by guests, periodically Carson and a group of stock performers would perform skits that spoofed news, movies, television shows, commercials, and past events. A Mighty Carson Art Players appearance would usually be announced along with that night's guests during McMahon's introduction.

Love Thy Neighbor (1940 film)

Love Thy NeighborLove Thy Neighbor'' (1940 film)
The pair even appeared together in films, including Love Thy Neighbor (1940) and It's in the Bag! (1945), Allen's only starring vehicle, also featuring William Bendix, Robert Benchley, and Jerry Colonna.
Love Thy Neighbor is a film produced by Paramount in 1940 which starred Jack Benny and Fred Allen, directed by Mark Sandrich.

O. O. McIntyre

O.O. McIntyre Suite
The inspiration for the mythical Main Street of "Allen's Alley" came from the small-town heartland folks who were often profiled in the newspaper columns written by O. O. McIntyre (1884–1938), one of the most popular columnists of the 1930s with some seven million readers.
However, the characters profiled in his columns gave Fred Allen the inspiration to create in 1942 the hugely popular "Allen's Alley" segment of his radio show.