Fred Allen: His Life and Wit

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
For two decades Fred Allen, ``the man with the flat voice,'' was America's most brilliant radio humorist, and for a time his program was the most popular in the country. This appreciative biography, enlivened by hundreds of quotations from Allen's books, journals, letters, scrapbooks and scripts, follows the career of Boston-born John Florence Sullivan (1894-1956) from his early days as a vaudeville juggler to his subsequent appearances as a Broadway comedian, culminating in his 25 years of national prominence. Boston Globe art and book critic Taylor ( Saranac ) discusses Allen's meticulous working methods, his longstanding ``feud'' with Jack Benny, his happy marriage and working relationship with Portland Hoffa, Allen's wife of 27 years, and the characters he used to interview in Allen's Alley : Ajax Cassidy, Sen. Beauregard Claghorn, Titus Moody, Mrs. Pansy Nussbaum and Falstaff Openshaw. Allen's cleverness and wit, his preeminence as a master of pace and timing, acknowledged and proclaimed by the likes of James Thurber and Groucho Marx, are fully represented in this delightful, distinguished biography. Photos. (June)
Library Journal
Unlike Jack Benny, his long-time contemporary, Fred Allen is perhaps almost forgotten today, except for those who grew up listening to the radio for an evening's entertainment. He was, nevertheless, one of the leading radio comedians of the 1930s and 1940s. This book covers Allen's roots in Boston, his days of vaudeville and Broadway revues, and his coast-to-coast success on radio. Television was his downfall, however, and nearly overnight his type of humor, shrewd and sardonic, became passe. This book is very much worth reading, but its excerpts from radio scripts really do little more than suggest what it was that made Allen so funny. Listening to tapes of Allen's actual broadcasts would give a better sense of his remarkable style.-- Steve Lewis, Central Connecticut State Univ., New Britain
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316833882
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 9/12/2008
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 340
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 26, 2011

    warm-hearted hi-jinks and more!

    Senor Taylor has done Allen-o-philes a great deed that deserves applause & laughter, much as FA did during his lifetime. Complete with fotos, and a truly great bibliography, this helps pull together both MUCH ADO ABOUT ME and TREADMILL TO OBLIVION. A liberal use of FRED ALLEN"S LETTERS is mucho appreciativo. an error that cannot be overlooked: Taylor reverses Allen & Jack Benny in a radio skit where actually Benny loses his pants as "King for a Day". Whatta blast the censors had over that one! The author's appreciation for Allen's humor is evident on every page and adds to the light hearted style. For a truly warm & friendly view of "the man with the flat voice"...READ THIS BOOK!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2009

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