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February 10th, 2009
Tributes
Larry Gelbart on Fred Allen
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Larry Gelbart: He always looked like he had been sucking on a lemon. He had this real literally sour puss. He was very literate and we’re in a very post-literate society now. He was about words. He was primarily an author who was best, the best interpreter of his own words. He wouldn’t survive for a second in today’s you know, stampede toward wherever we’re heading so quickly. He was an acquired taste. You didn’t turn him on and say I like this guy. You turned him on and said I like what this guy is saying.

  • john

    I loved watching Fred Allen on What’s My Line?. He was very clever.

  • Pelter

    From the very first time I heard an old recording of a Fred Allen radio broadcast (from the 1930’s & later 40’s), I realized this was true genius. A thinking man’s comedian, he used everything for humorous fodder, old vaudeville, quick word play and razor sharp topical humor combined and delivered in a brilliant- if often droll verbal manner. From the bottom of society to the top, the man used ethnic, immigrant musings/travails and royally lanced society’s fixations and mores. And if that wasn’t innovative enough, created and typed each and every one of his own shows (a source of lifelong pride, and frankly-when you hear the results- astounding)
    It amazes me he isn’t better known today. He was to Radio what Johnny Carson was Television (and also one of Carson’s chief comedic inspirations). Allen’s famous “feud” with Jack Benny, the characters found in “Allen’s Alley” (famously Mrs Nussbaum & Senator Claghorn) and Fred’s ability to tailor the show’s material to a weekly guest’s talents, is still very impressive to hear. To me, it set a standard of verbal inventiveness that few comedians have ever matched, even to this day.

  • norman barasch

    I wrote for Fred for a year during his declining years. Not only was he easily the wittiest man I ever knew, but also the kindest and most thoughtful.
    I still have a private tape of Fred and Groucho Marx in a duel of wits after Fred’s taping of a pilot for a quiz show. Fred won the duel. I loved the man and miss him to this day, some fifty years later.

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