Born John Florence Sullivan on May 31, 1894, Fred Allen began his
career in vaudeville before becoming one of radios most acerbic
and admired wits.
Allen and his wife, former chorus girl Portland Hoffa, began their
radio career on October 23, 1932, starring on The Linit Bath
Club Revue. By 1934, Allen was starring on Town Hall Tonight,
a one-hour show which featured Allen examining current events and
interviewing unusual guests. It was here that Allen began radios
longest-running feud in 1937, when he made a series
of jokes about fellow comedian Jack Benny.
Allens best-remembered feature was Allens Alley,
a weekly segment in which he would discuss issues of the day with
eccentric creations like the blustery Senator Claghorn, Brooklyn
housewife Pansy Nussbaum and stoic New Englander Titus Moody.
Allen was known to read up to nine newspapers a day and often spent
12 to 14 hours a day writing and re-writing his scripts.
Poor health forced Allen off the air in 1944, but he returned in
the fall of 1945 with The Fred Allen Show, which lasted until
June 26, 1949.
Fred Allen died on March 17, 1956.
Fred Allen was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1988.
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