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Stephen Valentine Patrick William Allen (December 26, 1921 - October 30,
2000) was a musician, comedian and writer, best known as the father of the
television talk show.
After years in radio, Allen became the original host of The Tonight Show,
from its first New York broadcast in 1953, up until 1957, when he was
replaced by Jack Paar. It was as host of the Tonight Show that Allen
pioneered the "man on the street" and audience-participation comedy bits
that have become commonplace in late-night TV.
Allen went on to host a slew of television programs up until the 1980s,
including the game show I've Got A Secret and The New Steve Allen Show in 1961.
Allen was also a composer who supposedly wrote over 7000 songs. In one
famous stunt, Allen wrote 400 simple tunes in a single day. Allen's best
known songs are "This Could Be The Start of Something Big" and the "Gravy
Waltz", which won a Grammy Award in 1963 for best jazz composition. Allen
was also an actor, appearing in such films as 1955's The Benny Goodman Story.
Allen was also an accomplished comedy writer, and author of over 50 books.
Allen died of heart failure.