The gala opening celebration of the restored New Community Theatre will launch its 2014 season with the iconic comedian and actor, Marty Allen at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17-18 at the Community Theatre, 207 W. Second Ave.
Allen’s comedic talent has spanned the decades. His signature line, “Hello dere,” starts every show. His appears in nightclubs and theaters along with his wife, Karon Kate Blackwell, an accomplished pianist and singer.
When asked about some of his shows, Allen recalls being booked on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964, that historic night when the Beatles made their U.S. debut. Allen said he and partner, Steve Rossi, were scheduled to appear just before the Fab Four’s set, and the audience’s anticipation was at a fever pitch.
“There were teenagers everywhere, screaming their heads off,” he recalled. “I walked out (on stage) and said, ”Hello dere, I’m Ringo’s mother.”
During the 1950s, Allen worked as an opening act for stars such as Sarah Vaughan, Eydie Gorme and Nat King Cole. It was during this time that he became part of the comedy team of Allen & Rossi with Steve Rossi. That association produced a string of hit comedy albums, 40 appearances of “The Ed Sullivan Show”, and the film, “The Last of the Secret Agents.”
In 1961-1962, Allen appeared on Broadway in “Let It Ride!” at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre and then went on to perform in the pre-Broadway tour of “I Had A Ball” and then opened on Broadway in 1964.
He eventually began performing dramatic roles. His debut as a serious actor came on “The Big Valley” TV series as the hapless Waldo Diefendorfer. Allen appeared in several other dramatic productions, including “Mister Jerico”, “The Ballad of Billie Blue” and segments of Rod Serling’s “Night Gallery”.
Throughout the 1970s and the 1980s, Allen made hundreds of television appearances, becoming a regular on “HollyWood Squares”. He also appeared on “Circus of the Stars”, in a cameo on “The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!” and on game shows such as “Password”, and in 10 made-for-television movies.
In 2007, Allen began performing at the Gold Coast Casino in Las Vegas with his wife, Karon, as well as performing on cruise ships.
A world War II hero, Allen joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was stationed in Italy where he attained the rank of sergeant and earned a Soldier’s Medal for his bravery during a fire which happened while a plane was being refueled. His heroism also earned him a full-dress parade.
His charitable works started in 1968 when he made a “Hello Dere” tour of military hospitals in the United States (a tour named after a catch phrase he popularized.) He repeated the tour annually until 1972. During the tours, he would talk with and entertain wounded soldiers who had just returned from Vietnam. He is also involved in a number of charitable causes including the American Cancer Society.
For ticket information, call 870-535-2646 or visit the website pbcommunitytheatre.org.