Marty Allen, the baby-faced, bug-eyed comedian with wild black hair who was a staple of TV variety shows, game shows and talk shows for decades, died Monday night. He was 95.
Allen died in Las Vegas of complications from pneumonia with his wife and performing partner of the last three decades Karon Kate Blackwell by his side, Allen’s spokeswoman Candi Cazau told The Associated Press.
Allen, known for his greeting and catchphrase “Hello dere,” was a living link late in life to a generation of long-dead superstars with whom he shared a stage, including Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and Elvis Presley
He first found fame as half of the duo Allen & Rossi with partner Steve Rossi, who died in 2014. Allen & Rossi appeared 44 times on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” including the episodes where the Beatles performed and most of America watched.
“Everyone remembers those shows with The Beatles, and they were great, but we appeared on all the shows,” Allen said in 2014. “There wasn’t a talk show on TV that didn’t want Allen & Rossi.”
The duo appeared regularly on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson” and “The Merv Griffin Show.” They also toured comedy clubs nationwide, headlined shows at major Las Vegas casinos and released a series of hit albums until their amicable breakup in 1968.
Allen then took on a series of serious roles on daytime television and made-for-TV movies and was a regular on “The Hollywood Squares” and other celebrity-themed game shows.
Allen was born in Pittsburgh and served in Italy in the Army Air Corps in World War II, earning a Soldier’s medal for valor.
He was married to Lorraine ‘Frenchy’ Allen from 1960 until she died in 1976.
Then in 1984, he married Blackwell, a singer-songwriter who became his performing partner in his last decades and acted as the goofy Allen’s “straight man” just as Rossi did half a century earlier.
He kept making crowds laugh into his mid-90s.
“It’s unbelievable to be 94 years old,” Marty Allen told a New York audience in 2016. “My wife says, ‘What do you want for your birthday?’ I told her, ‘An antique.’ So she framed my birth certificate.”