Saturday, March 3, 2018

Goodbye Dere!

Sad news in the world of entertainment, as last week comedian Marty Allen died. He was ninety five, so that's a pretty good run.

If you're under 30 you likely have no idea who he was, but he was huge in the 1960s and 1970s. When I was a kid he was on TV constantly, popping up on literally every single talk and game show there was. He brought a lot of joy to me when I was a kid, as I thought he was hilarious. I wonder if I'd still think he was funny, now that I'm a bitter old cynic?

After the massive success of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, comedy duos became all the rage. All over the country, dozens of handsome crooners teamed up with wacky, goofball comedians, hoping to become the next big thing.

Allen tried his hand at this as well, pairing up with singer Steve Rossi to form the team of Allen & Rossi. As with most of these duos, Rossi was the straight man, often trying to sing while being constantly interrupted by Allen.

They starred in exactly one movie, a spy spoof called The Last Of The Secret Agents. Amazingly I have vague memories of my parents taking me to see it when I was very young. I rewatched it a few years ago. Eh, it's not great, but I've seen worse films.

The two of them performed together from 1957 to 1968, when they amicably parted ways.

Allen then began performing on Broadway, and believe it or not, had quite a long run as a dramatic actor. No, that's not a typo. The world can be a strange and wondrous place sometimes.

Marty Allen was famous for his clever and highly sophisticated catchphrase, which consisted of him saying, "Hello dere" in a thick Brooklyn accent. That's it! That was the whole joke! And he likely said that thing every single day for the past six or seven decades! Never in the history of show business has one man got so much mileage out of two little words.

The only other comedian who might have come close would be Steve Martin with his "Excuuuuuuuuse me!" But Martin retired that shtick decades ago. Allen was still belting out "Hello dere!" right up until the end.

Allen and Rossi even recorded a song called Hello Dere!, which you can hear, um, here. Be warned though. It's a peppy, Vegas-y little number, that will stick in your head for days.

Allen was married twice, both times to incredibly gorgeous-looking women. I guess it's true, women like men with a sense of humor!

In his later years, Allen became heavily involved in many, many charities, including the American Cancer Society, The Heart Fund, March Of Dimes, Fight For Sight, Cerebral Palsy and the Epilepsy Foundation.

In honor of Marty Allen, let's all promise to say "Hello dere!" at least once per day, in hopes of making the world a more humorous place.

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