Bug-eyed comedian Marty Allen, who as part of the Allen & Rossi comedy team was a television staple during the 1960s and 1970s, has died in Las Vegas. He was 95 and passed from complications of pneumonia, according to his wife, Karon Kate Blackwell.
Allen’s bushy black hair, somewhat wild persona, and catchphrase “Hello dere” became part of American comedy lore in the days when the Rat Pack ruled Las Vegas. Allen was part of the comedy duo of Allen & Rossi, and they shared a stage with a Who’s Who of show biz of that generation, including Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and Elvis Presley.
Allen & Rossi appeared 44 times on The Ed Sullivan Show, including on the episodes where the Beatles performed. Partner Steve Rossi died in 2014.
“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 had an amicable breakup in 1968, but Allen was just getting started. He was a Hollywood Squares regular, and later did some drama roles in daytime television and in made-for-TV movies. He also maintained a solo career that stretched into his ’90s, as a new generation grew to love his old-school humor.
Allen was born in Pittsburgh and earned a Soldier’s Medal for valor in World War II. He was married to Lorraine “Frenchy” Allen from 1960 until her death in 1976.
In 1984 he married Blackwell, who became his show business partner for the last 30 years. She was a singer-songwriter and took over the Steve Rossi role of straight to Allen’s wacky observations. They performed together up until his mid-90s.