Marty Allen (1922 – 2018)

“Hello ‘dere!” We have some bad news. Legendary television and Las Vegas comedian Marty Allen has passed away. He was 95.

The man with the bug-eyes and uncontrollably frizzy hair who has made audiences laugh for generations was still performing even at his late age. Marty Allen continued to entertain, doing a musical comedy act with his wife Karon Kate Blackwell. Marty Allen was one of the last of the great generation of nightclub comedians from the 50s, 60s and 70s. He was one of the country’s final connections to the entertainment era of performers like the Rat Pack, Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme’, Rowan & Martin and Andy Williams.

Marty Allen was no stranger to being part of an act. His biggest success came in the 1960s as part of the comedy team of Rossi & Martin with comedy partner Steve Rossi who only passed away 4 years ago. With Steve Rossi being a good-looking crooner and Marty Allen being a lovable goofball, there were comparisons during their heyday to a contemporary comedy team of theirs, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis. However, they may have compared in looks, but when it came to style, Martin & Rossi were an act all their own. Their back-and-forth verbal style made them a must-have on television of the day. This was especially true of thee variety – talent television program of the era, “The Ed Sullivan Show“. Martin & Rossie made a record 44 appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show including being on the same bill on the legendary night that Ed Sullivan introduced American audiences to “The Beatles!”.

After the the comedy act of Rossi & Martin broke up, Marty Allen and his now iconic comedy catchphrase, “Hello ‘dere!” had huge success as a solo act. Marty Allen became a must-have on daytime television game shows like “The Hollywood Squares” and “Password” and also in late night, being a frequent guest on “The Tonight starring Johnny Carson.” He did all this while still working as a headlining nightclub comedian. He even took a dramatic turn with his career as an actor, portraying the down-on-his-luck loser with a heart of gold, Waldo Diefendorfer, on the Western TV series, “The Big Valley“. Marty Allen was such a mainstay of 1970s comedy that he once famously did “The Bump” on the dance floor with First Lady Betty Ford and instead of being indignant, America was delighted by this perceived harmless teddy bear with the laser wit.

Marty Allen found the love of his life and his final entertainment partner in singer Karon Kate Blackwell. They married in 1984 and continued to perform together up until Marty’s death. She was by his side when he passed away of pneumonia on Monday night. Comedians and other performers expressed their condolences and admiration for Marty Allen on Twitter including the estate of Marty’s late partner, Steve Rossi.

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