Allen, Steve, 1921-2000

Alternative names
Birth 1921-12-26
Death 2000-10-31

Biographical notes:

A radio and television performer, actor, composer, pianist, and singer.

From the description of [Papers] / Steve Allen. 1956-1973. (Bowling Green State University). WorldCat record id: 14228108

Renowned American comedian, composer, lyricist, musician, television pioneer, performer, and author.

From the description of Steve Allen papers, 1951-2000. (Scottsdale Public Library). WorldCat record id: 49244609

Steve Allen (1921-2000), comedian, composer, lyricist, musician, television pioneer, performer, and author, was born into a vaudeville family. His mother, a comedienne in her own right, performed under the name of Belle Montrose. He attended Arizona State Teachers' College in Tempe (now Arizona State University) in the fall of 1942 before beginning his entertainment career of over fifty years. In 1942, Allen left college to become a radio announcer for KOY in Phoenix. Arizona State University awarded Allen an Alumni Achievement Award in 1966 and an honorary doctorate in 1982.

Steve Allen pioneered late-night television talk shows, originating the format and hosting the first Tonight Show, which ran from 1953 to early 1957. Other highlights of his television career included The Steve Allen Show (1956-1960) and the game show I've Got a Secret . Allen also created and hosted the award-winning public television series Meeting of Minds (1977-1981), which featured imagined conversations between historical figures. In 1985 he wrote the words and music for a CBS-TV all-star production of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland .

Allen composed over 4,000 songs, the most famous of which was This Could Be the Start of Something Big . He also wrote lyrics for such movie music as Picnic, Houseboat, and On the Beach . As a writer, Allen produced numerous novels, plays, poems, and magazine and newspaper articles. Steve Allen is survived by his wife, actress-comedienne Jayne Meadows, whom he married in 1954.

From the guide to the Steve Allen Papers, 1951-2000, (Arizona State University Libraries Special Collections)


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  • Entertainers
  • Comedians--Archives
  • Musicians--Archives
  • Television personalities--Archives
  • Authors, American--Archives
  • Stand-up comedy--History
  • Comedy programs--History
  • Irish Americans--Drama
  • Television broadcasting--History
  • Comedians--Interviews
  • Television personalities--Interviews
  • Variety shows (Television programs)--History
  • Television comedies--History


  • Performer


  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)