Friday, October 30, 2015

Entertainer Steve Allen 2000 Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills Cemetery

Stephen Valentine Patrick William "Steve" Allen (December 26, 1921 – October 30, 2000) was an American television personality, musician, composer, actor, comedian, and writer. Though he got his start in radio, Allen is best known for his television career. He first gained national attention as a guest host on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. He graduated to become the first host of The Tonight Show, where he was instrumental in innovating the concept of the television talk show. Thereafter, he hosted numerous game and variety shows, including The Steve Allen Show, I've Got a Secret, and The New Steve Allen Show, and was a regular panel member on CBS' What's My Line?

Allen was a credible pianist[1] and a prolific composer, having penned over 14,000 songs,[2] one of which was recorded by Perry Como and Margaret Whiting, others by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Les Brown, and Gloria Lynne. Allen won the 1964 Grammy Award for Best Original Jazz Composition, with his song written with Ray Brown, "The Gravy Waltz." Allen wrote more than 50 books, has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Hollywood theater named in his honor.[3]

Life and career

Early life

Allen was born in New York City, the son of Billy (Carroll Abler) and Isabelle Allen (née Donohue) (Belle Montrose), a husband and wife vaudeville comedian team.[4] Allen was raised on the South Side of Chicago by his mother's Irish Catholic family. Milton Berle once called Allen's mother "the funniest woman in vaudeville."

Allen's first radio job was on station KOY in Phoenix, Arizona, after he left Arizona State Teachers College (now Arizona State University) in Tempe, while still a sophomore. He enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II and was trained as an infantryman. He spent his service time at Camp Roberts, California, and did not serve overseas. Allen returned to Phoenix before deciding to move back to California.


The hand prints of Allen in front of Hollywood Hills Amphitheater at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park Allen became an announcer for KFAC in Los Angeles and then moved to the Mutual Broadcasting System in 1946, talking the station into airing a five-nights-a-week comedy show, Smile Time, co-starring Wendell Noble. After Allen moved to CBS Radio's KNX in Los Angeles, his music-and-talk half-hour format gradually changed to include more talk on a full-hour, late-night show, boosting his popularity and creating standing-room-only studio audiences. During one episode of the show reserved primarily for an interview with Doris Day, his guest star failed to appear, so Allen picked up a microphone and went into the audience to ad lib for the first time.[5] His radio show attracted a huge local following, and in 1950 it replaced Our Miss Brooks,[6] exposing Allen to a national audience for the first time.

Allen's first television experience had come in 1949 when he answered an ad for a TV announcer for professional wrestling. He knew nothing about wrestling, so he watched some shows and discovered that the announcers did not have well-defined names for the holds. When he got the job, he created names for many of the holds, some of which are still used today.

After CBS radio gave Allen a weekly prime time show, CBS television believed it could groom him for national small-screen stardom and gave Allen his first network television show. The Steve Allen Show premiered at 11 am on Christmas Day, 1950, and was later moved into a thirty-minute, early evening slot. This new show required him to uproot his family and move from LA to New York, since at that time a coast to coast program could not originate from LA. The show was canceled in 1952, after which CBS tried several shows to showcase Allen's talent.[7]

Allen achieved national attention when he was pressed into service at the last minute to host Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts because Godfrey was unable to appear. Allen turned one of Godfrey's live Lipton commercials upside down, preparing tea and instant soup on camera and then pouring both into Godfrey's ukulele. With the audience (including Godfrey, watching from Miami) uproariously and thoroughly entertained, Allen gained major recognition as a comedian and host.

He was a regular on the popular panel game show What's My Line? (where he coined the popular phrase, "Is it bigger than a breadbox?") from 1953 to 1954 and returned frequently as a panelist after Fred Allen died in March 1956, until the series ended in 1967.

Film career

College Confidential (1960) Steve Allen starred in B-movie "College Confidential" with Jayne Meadows and Mamie Van Doren. 

The Benny Goodman Story (1956) Steve Allen starred in "The Benny Goodman Story" opposite Donna Reed. 

The Tonight Show

Leaving CBS, he created a late-night New York talk-variety TV program debuting in June 1953 on WNBT-TV what is now WNBC-TV. The following year, on September 27, 1954, the show went on the full NBC network as The Tonight Show, with fellow radio personality Gene Rayburn (who later went on to host hit game shows such as Match Game, 1962–1982) as the original announcer. The show ran from 11:15 pm to 1:00 am on the East Coast.

While Today developer Sylvester "Pat" Weaver is often credited as the Tonight creator, Allen often pointed out that he had previously created it as a local New York show. Allen told his nationwide audience that first evening: "This is Tonight, and I can't think of too much to tell you about it except I want to give you the bad news first: this program is going to go on forever... you think you're tired now. Wait until you see one o'clock roll around!"

It was as host of The Tonight Show that Allen pioneered the "man on the street" interviews and audience-participation comedy breaks that have become commonplace on late-night TV.

The Steve Allen Show

In June 1956, NBC offered Allen a new, prime-time, Sunday night variety hour, The Steve Allen Show, aimed at dethroning CBS's top-rated The Ed Sullivan Show. The show included a typical run of star performers, including early TV appearances by rock n' roll pioneers Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino. Many popular television and film personalities were guest stars, including Bob Hope, Kim Novak, Errol Flynn, Abbott and Costello, Esther Williams, Jerry Lewis, Martha Raye, The Three Stooges, and a host of others.

The show's regulars were Tom Poston, Louis Nye, Bill Dana, Don Knotts, Pat Harrington, Jr., Dayton Allen, and Gabriel Dell. All except film veteran Dell were relatively obscure performers prior to their stints with Allen, and all went on to stardom. The comedians in Allen's gang were often seen in "The Man in the Street," featuring interviews about some topical subject. Poston would appear as a dullard who could not remember his own name; Nye was "Gordon Hathaway," fey Madison Avenue executive; Dana played amiable Latino "Jose Jimenez;" Knotts was an exceedingly jittery man who, when asked if he was nervous, invariably replied with an alarmed "No!;" Harrington was Italian immigrant "Guido Panzini;" Dayton Allen played wild-eyed zanies answering any given question with "Why not?" Gabe Dell usually played straight men in sketches (policemen, newsmen, dramatic actors, etc.). Dell was also one of the original Dead End Kids and often played the character Boris Nadel, a Bela Lugosi/Dracula lookalike.

Other recurring routines included "Crazy Shots" (also known as "Wild Pictures"), a series of sight gags accompanied by Allen on piano; Allen inviting audience members to select three musical notes at random, and then composing a song based on the three notes; a satire on radio's long-running The Answer Man and a precursor to Johnny Carson's Carnac the Magnificent (Sample answer: "Et tu, Brute."/Allen's reply: "How many pizzas did you eat, Caesar?")

The live Sunday night show aired opposite The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS and Maverick on ABC. One of Allen's guests was comedian Johnny Carson, a future successor to Allen as host of The Tonight Show. Among Carson's material during that appearance was a portrayal of how a poker game between Allen, Sullivan, and Maverick star James Garner (all impersonated by Carson) would transpire. Allen's programs also featured a good deal of music; he helped the careers of singers Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, who were regulars on his early Tonight Show, and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Allen's show also had one of the longest unscripted "crack-ups" on live TV when Allen began laughing hysterically during "Big Bill Allen's Sports Roundup." He laughed uncontrollably for over a minute, with the audience laughing along, because, as he later explained, he caught sight of his unkempt hair on an off-camera monitor. He kept brushing his hair and changing hats to hide the messy hair, and the more he tried to correct his appearance the funnier it got.

Allen helped the recently invented Polaroid camera become popular by demonstrating its use in live commercials and amassed a huge windfall for his work because he had opted to be paid in Polaroid Corporation stock.

Allen remained host of "Tonight" for three nights a week (Monday and Tuesday nights were taken up by guests hosts for most of the summer of 1956; then by Ernie Kovacs through January) until early 1957, when he left the "Tonight" show to devote his attention to the Sunday night program. It was his (and NBC's) hope that The Steve Allen Show could defeat Ed Sullivan in the ratings. Nevertheless, the TV Western Maverick often bested both The Ed Sullivan Show and The Steve Allen Show in audience size.[8] In September 1959, Allen relocated to Los Angeles and left Sunday night television (the 1959–'60 season originated from NBC Color City in Burbank as The Steve Allen Plymouth Show, on Monday nights). Back in Los Angeles, he continued to write songs, hosted other variety shows, and wrote books and articles about comedy.

After being cancelled by NBC in 1960, the show returned in the fall of 1961 on ABC. Nye, Poston, Harrington, Dell, and Dayton Allen returned. New cast members were Joey Forman, Buck Henry, The Smothers Brothers, Tim Conway, and Allen's wife, Jayne Meadows. The new version was cancelled after fourteen episodes.[9]

Later TV projects

From 1962 to 1964, Allen re-created The Tonight Show on a new late-night The Steve Allen Show, which was syndicated by Westinghouse TV. The five-nights-a-week taped show was broadcast from an old vaudeville theater renamed The Steve Allen Playhouse on 1228 N. Vine St. in Hollywood.[10] (Several sources have erroneously identified Allen's show using the name of his theater.)

The show was marked by the same wild and unpredictable stunts and comedy skits that often extended down the street to a supermarket known as the Hollywood Ranch Market. He also presented Southern California eccentrics, including health food advocate Gypsy Boots, quirky physics professor Dr. Julius Sumner Miller, wacko comic Prof. Irwin Corey, and an early musical performance by Frank Zappa.[11]

During one episode, Allen placed a telephone call to the home of Johnny Carson, posing as a ratings company interviewer, asking Carson if the television was on, and what program he was watching. Carson did not immediately realize the caller was Allen. A rarity is the exchange between Allen and Carson about Carson's guests, permitting him to plug his own show on a competing network.

One notable program, which Westinghouse refused to distribute, featured Lenny Bruce during the time the comic was repeatedly being arrested on obscenity charges; footage from this program was first telecast in 1998 in a Bruce documentary aired on HBO. Regis Philbin briefly took over hosting the Westinghouse show in 1964.

The show also featured plenty of jazz played by Allen and members of the show's band, the Donn Trenner Orchestra, which included such virtuoso musicians as guitarist Herb Ellis and flamboyantly comedic hipster trombonist Frank Rosolino (whom Allen credited with originating the "Hiyo!" chant later popularized by Ed McMahon). While the show was not an overwhelming success in its day, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Robin Williams, and a number of other prominent comedians have cited Allen's "Westinghouse show," which they watched as teenagers, as being highly influential on their own comedic visions.

Allen later produced a second half-hour show for Westinghouse, titled Jazz Scene USA, which featured West Coast jazz musicians such as Rosolino, Stan Kenton, and Teddy Edwards. The short-lived show was hosted by Oscar Brown, Jr.

Allen hosted a number of television programs up until the 1980s, including The New Steve Allen Show in 1961 and the game show I've Got a Secret (replacing original host Garry Moore) in 1964. In the summer of 1967, he brought most of the regulars from over the years back with The Steve Allen Comedy Hour, featuring the debuts of Rob Reiner, Richard Dreyfuss, and John Byner and featuring Ruth Buzzi, who would become famous soon after on "Laugh-In." In 1968–71, he returned to syndicated nightly variety-talk with the same wacky stunts that would influence David Letterman in later years, including becoming a human hood ornament; jumping into vats of oatmeal and cottage cheese; and being slathered with dog food, allowing dogs backstage to feast on the free food. During the run of this series, Allen also introduced Albert Brooks and Steve Martin to a national audience for the first time.

A syndicated version of I've Got A Secret hosted by Allen and featuring panelists Pat Carroll and Richard Dawson was taped in Hollywood and aired during the 1972–73 season. In 1977, he produced Steve Allen's Laugh-Back, a syndicated series combining vintage Allen film clips with new talk-show material reuniting his 1950s TV gang. From 1986 through 1988, Allen hosted a daily three-hour comedy show heard nationally on the NBC Radio Network that featured sketches and America's best-known comedians as regular guests. His cohost was radio personality Mark Simone, and they were joined frequently by comedy writers Larry Gelbart, Herb Sargent, and Bob Einstein.

From 1977 until 1981, Allen hosted the show Meeting of Minds, which aired on the Public Broadcasting Network.[12] In the show, actors "portrayed historic individuals engaging in spirited, at times heated, debates, over issues such as racism, women's rights, crime and punishment, and religious toleration."[12] Allen first had the concept for the show in 1959, but took almost twenty years to make it happen.[13]

Fan Club

In 1963, Allen's national fan club was headed up by two 10-year-old boys from Minnesota, Fred Frandle and Brian Tolzmann. Brian Tolzmann conducted one of the final interviews with Allen, in August 2000.

Composer, actor, and author

Allen was an accomplished composer who wrote over 10,000 songs. He began his recording career in 1953 by signing with Decca Records's Brunswick Records sub-label.[14] In one famous stunt, he made a bet with singer-songwriter Frankie Laine that he could write 50 songs a day for a week. Composing on public display in the window of a Hollywood music store, Allen met the quota, winning $1,000 from Laine. One of the songs, Let's Go to Church Next Sunday, was recorded by both Perry Como and Margaret Whiting. Allen's best-known songs are "This Could Be the Start of Something" and "The Gravy Waltz," the latter having won the 1964 Grammy Award for Best Original Jazz Composition. He also wrote lyrics for the standards "Picnic" and "South Rampart Street Parade." Allen composed the score to the Paul Mantee imitation James Bond film A Man Called Dagger (1967), with the score orchestrated by Ronald Stein.

Allen wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical Sophie, which was based on the early career of "The Last of the Red-Hot Mamas," entertainer Sophie Tucker. The book for the show was by Philip Pruneau; Libi Staiger and Art Lund were featured in the leading roles. "Sophie" opened at the Winter Garden Theatre after tryouts in three cities on April 15, 1963, to mostly unfavorable critical notices; it closed five days later on April 20, after 8 performances. As Ken Mandelbaum noted in his 1991 book "Not Since Carrie" – "The show received consistently negative reviews in Columbus, Detroit (and) Philadelphia... the score went unrecorded (by the cast), although several months later Judy Garland sang three songs from 'Sophie' on her CBS television series... Tucker was around when the show about her was done; she even invested in it when it was floundering on the road and sat through the opening in a box seat. Allen's other produced musical was the 1969 London show "Belle Starr," which starred Betty Grable." A "compiled" recording of "Sophie" was later released with vocals by Allen, Libi Staiger, Judy Garland and others.

Allen was also an actor. He wrote and starred in his first film, the Mack Sennett comedy compilation Down Memory Lane, in 1949. His most famous film appearance is in 1955's The Benny Goodman Story, in the title role. The film, while an average biopic of its day, was heralded for its music, featuring many alumni of the Goodman band. Allen later recalled his one contribution to the film's music, used in the film's early scenes: the accomplished Benny Goodman could no longer produce the sound of a clarinet beginner, and that was the only sound Allen could make on a clarinet! In 1960, he appeared as the character "Dr. Ellison" in the episode "Play Acting" of CBS's anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson though his The Steve Allen Show had been in competition with the June Allyson program the preceding season.

From 1977 to 1981, Allen was the producer of the award-winning PBS series, Meeting of Minds, a "talk show" with actors playing the parts of notable historical figures and Allen as the host. This series pitted the likes of Socrates, Marie Antoinette, Thomas Paine, Sir Thomas More, Attila the Hun, Karl Marx, Emily Dickinson, Charles Darwin, and Galileo Galilei in dialogue and argument. This was the show Allen wanted to be remembered for, because he believed that the issues and characters were timeless and would survive long after his death.

Allen was a comedy writer and author of more than 50 books, including Dumbth, a commentary on the American educational system, and Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, and Morality. Twenty of his books were concerned with his views about religion.[15] Perhaps influenced by his son's involvement with a religious cult, he became an outspoken critic of organized religion and an active member of such humanist and skeptical organizations as the Council for Media Integrity, a group that debunked pseudoscientific claims.[16]

Allen's clever and insightful writings include an essay titled "The Day the Jews Disappeared," describing in detail the series of disastrous events that would likely occur if the world's entire population of Jews simply disappeared. Written long before the age of the internet, a chance meeting between Allen and the son of comedian Milton Berle resulted in the essay being published online for posterity, as a tribute to Steve Allen.

Allen and rock music

While Allen was often critical of rock 'n' roll music, he often booked rock 'n' roll acts on his television program, The Steve Allen Show. The program featured acts like Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Louis Jordan and The Tympany Five, The Treniers, and The Collins Kids.[17] Allen famously scooped Ed Sullivan by being one of the first to present Elvis Presley on network television (after Presley had appeared on the Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey Stage Show and Milton Berle shows). Presley was an exceedingly controversial act at the time, but "Allen found a way... to satisfy the Puritans. He assured viewers that he would not allow Presley 'to do anything that will offend anyone.' NBC announced that a 'revamped, purified and somewhat abridged Presley' had agreed to sing while standing reasonably still, dressed in black tie."[18] Allen had Elvis wear a top hat and the white tie while singing "Hound Dog" to an actual hound, who was similarly attired.

The singer was also featured in a country music sketch with Allen, Andy Griffith, and Imogene Coca.[19] The sketch was consistent with other situations in which Allen had singers in such comic scenarios on his show, in contrast to the simple "singing in front of a curtain" style of the Sullivan show. The house singers on the early Tonight show were similarly incorporated into the program's sketches. In addition, Allen's skit with Presley actually was less a put-down of Presley and mainly a satire of country music stage shows like the Grand Ole Opry and the Louisiana Hayride, the Shreveport-based country music radio show (over KWKH) Presley performed on in 1954 and 1955.

In a 1996 interview Allen was asked about the show. Asked if NBC executives expressed any concerns about Elvis's planned appearance, Allen replied that he'd "read more nonsense about" it, and "a lot of wrong reports have gotten into the public." "If there ever was, I never heard about it. And since it was my show, I think it would have brought to my attention." Regarding Elvis's movements he stated "No! I took no objection to the movements I'd seen him make on the Dorsey Brothers show. I didn't see a problem. Of course, I had read about some of the controversy, much of it generated by Ed Sullivan, who was opposite of our show on CBS. It didn't matter to me. I was using good production sense in booking him."[20]

In his book Hi-Ho Steverino! Allen wrote the following: "When I booked Elvis, I naturally had no interest in just presenting him vaudeville-style and letting him do his spot as he might in concert. Instead we worked him into the comedy fabric of our program." "We certainly didn't inhibit Elvis' then-notorious pelvic gyrations, but I think the fact that he had on formal evening attire made him, purely on his own, slightly alter his presentation."[21]

Allen also appeared on the shows of entertainers, even the rock and roll program The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom on ABC.

Later career

In the late 1970s early 1980s, Allen recorded a solo piano Pianocorder album for the Pianocorder Contemporary Artists Series, joining other artists-pianists of the day such as Liberace, Floyd Cramer, Teddy Wilson, Roger Williams, and Johnny Guarnieri. His solo album was popular. Pianocorder was founded by Joseph Tushinsky. The Pianocorder was the first modern mechanical player piano made for the public that used solenoids to power the keys. Later, it was bought out by Yamaha Disklavier and discontinued and is known today as the Yamaha Disklavier. During the late 1980s, Allen and his second wife Jayne Meadows made numerous appearances on the drama St. Elsewhere, playing Victor Erlich's estranged parents.

The 1985 documentary film Kerouac, the Movie starts and ends with footage of Jack Kerouac reading from On the Road as Allen accompanies on soft jazz piano from The Steve Allen Plymouth Show in 1959. "Are you nervous?" Allen asks him; Kerouac answers nervously, "Noo," a take-off on the character usually played by Don Knotts.

In 1986, Steve Allen was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

Allen appeared in a PSA advocating for New Eyes for the Needy in the 1990s.

Also, Allen made a cameo appearance at Wrestlemania VI in a skit with The Bolsheviks. Allen told the Bolsheviks that he was going to play the Soviet National Anthem while The Bolsheviks sang along; however, Allen simply stalled playing other notes while never actually playing the anthem. He later appeared as a guest commentator during a match later on in the show.

Prior to his death Allen also narrated The Unreal Story of Professional Wrestling, a documentary of professional wrestling from its origins to 1998.

Personal life

Allen was married to Dorothy Goodman in 1943 and they had three children, Steve Jr., Brian, and David. That marriage ended in divorce in 1952. Allen's second wife was actress Jayne Meadows, sister to actress Audrey Meadows. The marriage of Allen and Meadows produced one son, Bill Allen. They were married in Waterford, Connecticut on July 31, 1954.[22] They remained married until his death in 2000.

Allen received a traditional Irish Catholic upbringing.[15] He later became a secular humanist and Humanist Laureate for the Academy of Humanism, a member of CSICOP and the Council for Secular Humanism.[15] He received the Rose Elizabeth Bird Commitment to Justice Award from Death Penalty Focus in 1998. He was a student and supporter of general semantics, recommending it in Dumbth and giving the Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture in 1992. In spite of his liberal position on free speech, his later concerns about the lewdness he saw on radio and television, particularly the programs of Howard Stern, caused him to make proposals restricting the content of programs, allying himself with the Parents Television Council.[23] His full-page ad on the subject appeared in newspapers just before his unexpected death.

Allen made a last appearance on The Tonight Show on September 27, 1994, for the show's 40th anniversary broadcast. Jay Leno was effusive in praise and actually knelt down and kissed his ring.

He was a Democrat whereas his wife was a Republican.[24]


On October 30, 2000, Allen was driving to his son's home in Encino, California when his car was struck by a car backing out of a driveway. Neither Allen nor the other driver believed he was injured and damage to both vehicles was minimal, so the two exchanged insurance information and Allen continued on. Shortly after arriving at his son's home he appeared to be a little confused and shaky. He told his family he was not feeling well and lost his balance when climbing up the six steps of the front porch. He sat on the sofa for a few minutes, appeared better and was talking with family members. He walked into the kitchen to talk with other family members and then said he was going to the bathroom. He didn't mention anything about the car crash.

After not returning in a short time, his son became concerned, and when there was no response to knocking at the door, he entered the bathroom. Allen was found sitting on the toilet slumped to one side and making a snoring sound. He was moved to the floor and 911 was called. Paramedics were summoned, but could not revive Allen. The postmortem revealed that he had not suffered major injuries from the car accident (broken ribs and a collapsed lung were the result of attempted CPR) and the cause of death was a massive heart attack caused by a hemopericardium from a ruptured artery. Allen's personal physician believed it had been triggered by shock due to the collision which was aggravated by his age and preexisting coronary artery disease. He had not bothered to tell his family about the car accident, and they were unaware of it until after his death.[25]

He is interred with Jayne Meadows (Died 2015) in an unmarked grave at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles.

Allen has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – a television star at 1720 Vine St. and a radio star at 1537 Vine St.



College Confidential (1960) 
The Benny Goodman Story (1956) 
Down Memory Lane (1949)


Songs for Sale (1950–1952) 
What's My Line? (regular panelist, 1953–1954; frequent guest panelist 1954–1967) 
Jukebox Jury (1953) 
Talent Patrol (1953–1955) 
The Steve Allen Show (1956–61) 
The Tonight Show (1954–1957, NBC) 
The Steve Allen Westinghouse Show (1962–1968) 
I've Got a Secret (1964–1967, 1972–1973) 
The Steve Allen Show (Filmways production, 1968–1969) 
Steve Allen Show (September 29, 1970 – October 21, 1971) 
KTLA Match Game (panelist, 1974) 
Tattletales (panelist, mid-1970s) 
Meeting of Minds (1977–1981, PBS) 
Steve Allen Comedy Hour (1980–1981) 
The Start of Something Big (1985–1986) 
Amen (1991, Lights, Camera, Deacon Season 5 episode 9) 
The Simpsons (1992, Separate Vocations, 1995, 'Round Springfield) 
Space Ghost Coast to Coast (1997, one episode, Guest) 
Homicide: Life On The Street (1998): Steve and Jayne appeared as guests (January 16, 1998). 
Sabrina the Teenage Witch (April 3, 1998, Season 2 Episode 21 "Fear Strikes Up a Conversation," Guest)


"Theme from Picnic" 
"This Could Be the Start of Something Big" 
"Pretend You Don't See Her, My Heart" 
"The Gravy Waltz" 
"The Saturday Evening Post" 
"Cool Yule"

Comedic discography

"Man in the Street" (1963) (Signature 1004) 
"Funny Fone Calls" (1963) (Dot 3472, re-issued as Casablanca 811-366-1-ML) 
"More Funny Fone Calls" (1963) (Dot 3517, re-issued as Casablanca 811-367-1-ML)

Musical discography

Jazz for Tonight (Coral, 1955) – with Bobby Rosengarden, Charlie Shavers, Milt Hinton, George Barnes, Urbie Green and Hank D'Amico 
Allen's All Stars (EmArcy, 1958) – with Terry Gibbs and Gus Bivona 
Steve Allen at the Roundtable (Roulette,1959) – with Gary Frommer, Gary Peacock, Gus Bivona, Mundell Lowe, Terry Gibbs, and Doc Severinson 
Steve Allen Plays Cool Quiet Bossa Nova (Dot,1966) – with Bud Shank, Bill Perkins, Laurindo Almeida Bill Goodwin, Jim Hughart et al. 
Songs for Gentle People (Dunhill, 1967) 
Soulful Brass (Impulse!, 1968) – with Oliver Nelson 
Soulful Brass #2 (Flying Dutchman, 1969) – with Oliver Nelson 
Shakin'n Loose with Mother Goose: Rapped by Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows (Kids Matter, 1990) – with Jayne Meadows and Pat Moran McCoy


Year Title Notes Identifiers

1955 Steve Allen's Bop Fables illustrated by George Price OCLC 1006762 
1955 Fourteen for Tonight short stories OCLC 1034835 
1956 The Funny Men OCLC 329974 
1956 Wry on the Rocks poems OCLC 1150685 
1958 The Girls on the 10th Floor and Other Stories short stories OCLC 1131890; ISBN 0-8369-3608-6 (1970 printing) 
1959 The Question Man... photographs by Gene Lester OCLC 1150647 
1960 Mark It and Strike It: An Autobiography OCLC 25533614 
1962 Not All of Your Laughter, Not All of Your Tears Steve's first novel OCLC 1626391 
1964 Dialogues in Americanism transcript of three debates: Allen vs. William F. Buckley, Jr.; Robert M. Hutchins vs. L. Brent Bozell, and James MacGregor Burns vs. Willmoore Kendall OCLC 397431 
1965 Letter to a Conservative OCLC 1150594 
1966 The Ground is Our Table photographs by Arthur Dubinsky OCLC 358823 
1967 Bigger than a Breadbox with commentary by Leonard Feather; illustrations by Rowland B. Wilson OCLC 717481 
1969 A Flash of Swallows: New Poems poems ISBN 0-8375-6734-3; OCLC 5024 
1972 The Wake ISBN 0-385-07608-8 
1973 Princess Snip-Snip and the Puppy-Kittens illustrated by David Gantz 
1973 Curses! or... How Never to Be Foiled Again illustrated by Marvin Rubin ISBN 0-87477-008-4 
1974 What To Say When It Rains ISBN 0-8431-0357-4 
1975 Schmock-Schmock! ISBN 0-385-09664-X 
1978 Meeting of Minds ISBN 0-517-53383-9; 1989 printing: ISBN 0-87975-550-4 
1978 Chopped-Up Chinese 
1979 Ripoff: A Look at Corruption in America with Roslyn Bernstein and Donald H. Dunn ISBN 0-8184-0249-0 
1979 Meeting of Minds, Second Series ISBN 0-517-53894-6; 1989 printing: ISBN 0-87975-565-2 
1980 Explaining China ISBN 0-517-54062-2 
1981 Funny People ISBN 0-8128-2764-3 
1982 Beloved Son: A Story of the Jesus Cults ISBN 0-672-52678-6 
1982 More Funny People ISBN 0-8128-2884-4 
1986 How to Make a Speech ISBN 0-07-001164-8 
1987 How to Be Funny: Discovering the Comic You with Jane Wollman ISBN 0-07-001199-0; 1992 printing: ISBN 0-87975-792-2; 1998 revised edition: ISBN 1-57392-206-4 
1989 The Passionate Nonsmoker's Bill of Rights: The First Guide to Enacting Nonsmoking Legislation with Bill Adler, Jr. ISBN 0-688-06295-4 
1989 "Dumbth": And 81 Ways to Make Americans Smarter ISBN 0-87975-539-3; 1998 revised edition: ISBN 1-57392-237-4 
1989 Meeting of Minds, Vol. III ISBN 0-87975-566-0 
1989 Meeting of Minds, Vol. IV ISBN 0-87975-567-9 
1990 The Public Hating: A Collection of Short Stories ISBN 0-942637-22-4 
1990 Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion and Morality ISBN 0-87975-638-1 
1992 Hi-Ho, Steverino: The Story of My Adventures in the Wonderful Wacky World of Television ISBN 0-942637-55-0; large-print edition: ISBN 1-56054-521-6 
1993 More Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion and Morality ISBN 0-87975-736-1 
1993 Make 'em Laugh ISBN 0-87975-837-6 
1994 Reflections ISBN 0-87975-904-6 
1995 The Man Who Turned Back the Clock, and Other Short Stories ISBN 1-57392-002-9 
1995 The Bug and the Slug in the Rug ISBN 1-880851-17-2 
1996 But Seriously...: Steve Allen Speaks His Mind ISBN 1-57392-090-8 
1999 Steve Allen's Songs: 100 Lyrics with Commentary ISBN 0-7864-0736-0 
2000 Steve Allen's Private Joke File ISBN 0-609-80672-6 2001 Vulgarians at the Gate: Trash TV and Raunch Radio – Raising the Standards of Popular Culture ISBN 1-57392-874-7

Allen's series of mystery novels "starring" himself and wife Jayne Meadows were in part ghostwritten by Walter J. Sheldon, and later Robert Westbrook.

The Talk Show Murders (1982), ISBN 0-440-08471-7 
Murder on the Glitter Box (1989), ISBN 0-8217-2752-4 
Murder in Manhattan (1990), ISBN 0-8217-3033-9 
Murder in Vegas (1991), ISBN 0-8217-3462-8 
The Murder Game (1993), ISBN 0-8217-4115-2 
Murder on the Atlantic (1995), ISBN 0-8217-4647-2 
Wake Up to Murder (1996), ISBN 1-57566-090-3 
Die Laughing (1998), ISBN 1-57566-241-8 
Murder in Hawaii (1999), ISBN 1-57566-375-9


Allen was keenly interested in social justice and wrote pamphlets on a variety of issues, including the problems facing migrant workers, as well as the problems of capital punishment and nuclear weapons proliferation. He once considered running for Congress from California, calling his politics "middle-of-the-road radicalism." He actively campaigned against obscenity on television and criticized comedians such as George Carlin and Lenny Bruce for use of expletives in their stand-up routines.[27]


1. LIFE February 13, 1956. p. 56. 
2. "Baby Boomer Alert: How Many Remember Steve Allen? (VIDEO)". 
3. Anthony Dalessandro (February 1, 2006). "The God and Satan Show". LA Times. 
4. "Stephen Allen Biography (1921–2000)". 
5. "The Official Website of Steve Allen". 
6. Morse, Leon (July 1, 1950). "The Steve Allen Show". Billboard. p. 37. 
7. Ben Alba, Inventing Late Night: Steve Allen and the Original Tonight Show (Prometheus Books, 2005), pp. 40–42 
8. Tise Vahimagi. "Maverick". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Maverick premiered on September 22, 1957, and pretty soon won over the viewers from the powerful opposition of CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show and NBC's The Steve Allen Show, two programs that had been Sunday night favorites from the mid-1950s. 
9. The Steve Allen Show from the Museum of Broadcast Communications 
10. "Filmarte Theatre in Los Angeles, CA". Cinema Treasures. 
11. Slaven, 1996, Electric Don Quixote, pp. 35–36. and Video on YouTube 
12. Taken from Philosophy Now magazine 
13. According to 'A Mind is a Wonderful Thing to Meet', article in Philosophy Now magazine, issue 100 
14. Billboard. September 12, 1953. 
15. Matt Coker (March 1, 2007). "Godsmack – Page 3 – News – Orange County". OC Weekly. 
16. [1] Archived August 13, 2010 at the Wayback Machine 
17. "The Steve Allen Show Episodes". July 24, 1964. 
18. Glenn C. Altschuler, All Shook Up: How Rock 'n' Roll Changed America (Oxford University Press, 2003), p.90. 
19. Jake Austen, TV A-Go-Go: Rock on TV from American Bandstand to American Idol (2005), p.13. 
20. "Steve Allen Talks About Elvis – Elvis Presley Music – The Man and the Photos". Elvis Presley Music. August 26, 1969. 
21. "Steve Allen Comedy Show". Archived from the original on July 10, 2003. 
22. "TV's Steve Allen Weds Panel Pal." Boston Traveler, July 31, 1954. 
23. "AMERICAS | TV legend Steve Allen dies". BBC News. October 31, 2000. 
24. Haynes, Karima A. (May 7, 1997). "Opposites Attract, Succeed for Decades". Los Angeles Times. 
25. "The Death of Steve Allen – details". 
27. Richard Severo (November 1, 2000). "Steve Allen, Comedian Who Pioneered Late-Night TV Talk Shows, Is Dead at 78". New York Times.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"Black Angel" Actress Constance Dowling 1969 Holy Cross Cemetery

Constance Dowling (July 24, 1920 - October 28, 1969) was an American model turned actress of the 1940s and 1950s.


Early life and career

Born in New York City, Dowling was a model and chorus girl before moving to California in 1943. She was the elder sister of actress Doris Dowling.[1] 


Prior to her move to Hollywood, Dowling appeared in several Broadway productions, including Panama Hattie (with sister Doris), Hold On To Your Hats, and The Strings, My Lord, Are False.[2] Dowling began her screen career appearing in Up in Arms (1944) for Samuel Goldwyn. 


She appeared in a few films after that, including the film noir Black Angel (1946) but her film career did not advance.


Dowling lived in Italy in 1947 through 1950 and appeared in some unmemorable Italian films. 


Dowling returned to Hollywood in the 1950s and landed a part in the sci-fi film Gog, her last film.


Personal life

Dowling had been involved in a long affair with married director Elia Kazan in New York. He couldn't bring himself to leave his wife and the affair ended when Dowling went to Hollywood under contract to Goldwyn.[3] She was later linked with Italian poet/novelist Cesare Pavese who committed suicide in 1950 after being rejected by Dowling. One of his last poems is entitled "Death will come and she'll have your eyes."[4][5]


In 1955, Dowling married film producer Ivan Tors, with whom she had three sons: Steven, David, and Peter Tors, as well as a foster child, Alfred Ndwego of Kenya. She retired from acting after this marriage.[6] 


On October 28, 1969, Dowling died at the age of 49 of a heart attack.[6] She is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City. 


1. Saxon, Wolfgang (2004-06-28). "Doris Dowling, 81, Is Dead; Known for Classic Films of 40's". New York Times. 
 2. "Constance Dowling, 49, Is Dead; Acted on Broadway and in Films". The New York Times. Reuters. 1969-10-29. p. 52. 
3. Schickel, Richard (1988-05-09). "Incaution on A Grand Scale Elia Kazan: A Life". Time. p. 2. 
4. di Vincenzo, Ludovica (2014). "Death will come and she'll have your eyes - The Times Stephen Spender Prize 2013 (commended)". Stephen Spender Trust. 
5. Williamson, Alan (1997-09-10). "Pavese's late love poems". The American Poetry Review. 
6. "The Private Life and Times of Constance Dowling".

Monday, October 26, 2015

"Imitation of Life" Actress Louise Beavers 1962 Evergreen Cemetery

Louise Beavers (March 8, 1902 – October 26, 1962) was an African-American film and television actress. Beavers appeared in dozens of films from the 1920s until 1960, most often in the role of a maid, servant, or slave. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio,[1] Beavers was a member of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, one of the four African-American sororities.


Louise Beavers was a breakthrough actress for blacks. Beavers became known as a symbol of a “mammy” on the screen. A mammy archetype “is the portrayal within a narrative framework or other imagery of a black domestic servant, generally good-natured, often overweight, and loud.”[2]


Early life

Louise Ellen Beavers was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to school teacher Ernestine Monroe Beavers and William M. Beavers, who was originally from Georgia. Due to her mother's illness, Louise and her parents moved to Pasadena, California.[3]

In Pasadena, she attended school and engaged in several after school activities, such as basketball and church choir. Her mother also worked as a voice teacher and taught Louise how to sing for concerts.[4] In June 1920, she graduated from Pasadena High School and “worked as a dressing room attendant for a photographer and served as a personal maid to white film star Leatrice Joy.”[3]

There is some controversy as to how Beavers began her acting career. She was in a group called the Lady Minstrels who were "a group of young women who staged amateur productions and appeared on stage at the Loews State Theatre." It was either her performance in this group or in a contest at the Philharmonic Auditorium, which occurred later. Charles Butler from the Central Casting Bureau, who was known for being an agent for African American actors, saw the performance and recommended that Louise try out for a role for a movie.”[3] At first she was hesitant to try out for movies because of how African Americans were portrayed in movies and how Hollywood encouraged these roles. She once said, “In all the pictures I had seen… they never used colored people for anything except savages.”[3] Despite this, she tried out for a role in the film Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1927 and landed the part.


Acting career

Louise Beavers started her career in the 1920s. At the time, black people in films were limited to acting in only very few roles, usually as slaves or domestic help. She played the "mammy" in many of the movies she acted in. She started to gain more attention in the acting world after she played the role of Julia in Coquette, which starred Mary Pickford. In this film she played the black maid and mother figure to a young white woman.[3] She once received a review which stated, "Personally, Miss Beavers is just splendid, just as fine as she appears on screen, but she also has a charm all her own, which needs no screen role for recognition. She has a very pleasing personality, one that draws people to her instantly and makes them feel that they are meeting a friend instead of a Hollywood Star.”[3] Beavers had an attractive personality, and often played roles in which she helps a white protagonist mature in the course of the movie. In most of Beavers' movies, her role was written such that she would serve, as often black characters did, a fund, “of servitude and/or comic relief.”[5]

In 1934, Beavers played Delilah in Imitation of Life, a leading role that was not overshadowed by a white lead actor or actress. Her character again plays a black maid, but instead of the usual stereotype of subservience, Delilah's role in the story line is equivalent to the white lead. The public reacted positively to Beavers' performance.[3] It was not only a breakthrough for Beavers, but was also “the first time in American cinema history that a black woman's problems were given major emotional weight in a major Hollywood motion picture.”[5] Some in the media recognized the unfairness of Hollywood's double standard regarding race. For example, California Graphic Magazine wrote, “the Academy could not recognize Miss Beavers. She is black!”[3]

Beavers, who was raised in the North and in California, had to learn to speak the southern “Negro” dialect. As Beavers' career grew, some criticized her for the roles she accepted, alleging that such roles institutionalized the view that blacks were subservient to whites. Beavers dismissed the criticism. She acknowledged the limited opportunities available, but said: "I am only playing the parts. I don't live them.” As she became more famous, Beavers began to speak out against Hollywood's portrayal and treatment of black Americans, both during production and after promoting the films.[3]

Beavers was one of four actresses (including Hattie McDaniel, Ethel Waters, and Amanda Randolph) to portray housekeeper Beulah on the Beulah television show. That show was the first television sitcom to star a black person. She also played a maid, Louise, for the first two seasons of The Danny Thomas Show (1953–1955).

Later in her career, Beavers became active in public life, seeking to help support black Americans. She endorsed Robert S. Abbott, the editor of the Chicago Defender, who fought for black Americans' civil rights. She supported Richard Nixon, whom she believed would help black Americans in the United States in the civil rights battle.[3]



Beavers married Robert Clark in 1936. He later became her manager and helped manage her career. She not only worked in movies, but also on "twenty-week tours of theaters that she conducted annually.”[3] Beavers and Clark later divorced and remarried. Much later, in 1952, Beavers married Leroy Moore, who was either an interior designer or a chef (varying sources); they remained married until her death in 1962.[3] She had no children.


In later life, the actress was plagued by health issues, including diabetes. She died on October 26, 1962, at the age of 60, following a heart attack, at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles; it was the 10th anniversary of the death of Hattie McDaniel, the first black actress to win an Academy Award.[3] She is buried with her mother Ernestine Monroe Beavers at Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles. 


Beavers was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1976.[6]



Uncle Tom's Cabin (1927) 
Coquette (1929) 
Glad Rag Doll (1929) 
Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929) 
Barnum Was Right (1929) 
Wall Street (1929) 
Nix on Dames (1929) 
Second Choice (1930) 
Wide Open (1930) 
She Couldn't Say No (1930) 
Honey (1930) 
True to the Navy (1930) 
Safety in Numbers (1930) 
Back Pay (1930) 
Recaptured Love (1930) 
Our Blushing Brides (1930) 
Manslaughter (1930) 
Outside the Law (1930) 
Bright Lights (1930) 
Paid (1930) 
Scandal Sheet (1931) 
Millie (1931) 
Don't Bet on Women (1931) 
Six Cylinder Love (1931) 
Up for Murder (1931) 
Party Husband (1931) 
Annabelle's Affairs (1931) 
Sundown Trail (1931) 
Reckless Living (1931) 
Girls About Town (1931) 
Heaven on Earth (1931) 
Good Sport (1931) 
Ladies of the Big House (1931) 
The Greeks Had a Word for Them (1932) 
The Expert (1932) 
It's Tough to Be Famous (1932) 
Young America (1932) 
Night World (1932) 
The Midnight Lady (1932) 
The Strange Love of Molly Louvain (1932) 
Street of Women (1932) 
The Dark Horse (1932) 
What Price Hollywood? (1932) 
Unashamed (1932) 
Divorce in the Family (1932) 
Hell's Highway (1932) 
Wild Girl (1932) 
Too Busy to Work (1932) 
She Done Him Wrong (1933) 
Her Splendid Folly (1933) 
Girl Missing (1933) 
42nd Street (1933) 
The Phantom Broadcast (1933) 
Pick-Up (1933) 
Central Airport (1933) 
The Big Cage (1933) 
What Price Innocence? (1933) 
Midnight Mary (1933) 
Hold Your Man (1933) 
Her Bodyguard (1933) 
A Shriek in the Night (1933) 
Notorious But Nice (1933) 
Bombshell (1933) 
Only Yesterday (1933) 
In the Money (1933) 
Jimmy and Sally (1933) 
Palooka (1934) 
Bedside (1934) 
I've Got Your Number (1934) 
Gambling Lady (1934) 
A Modern Hero (1934) 
The Woman Condemned (1934) 
Registered Nurse (1934) 
Glamour (1934) 
I Believed in You (1934) 
Cheaters (1934) 
Merry Wives of Reno (1934) 
The Merry Frinks (1934) 
Dr. Monica (1934) (uncredited) 
I Give My Love (1934) 
Beggar's Holiday (1934) 
Imitation of Life (1934) 
West of the Pecos (1934) 
Million Dollar Baby (1934) 
Annapolis Farewell (1935) 
Bullets or Ballots (1936) 
Wives Never Know (1936) 
General Spanky (1936) 
Rainbow on the River (1936) 
Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) 
Wings Over Honolulu (1937) 
Love in a Bungalow (1937) 
The Last Gangster (1937) 
Scandal Street (1938) 
Life Goes On (1938) 
Brother Rat (1938) 
The Headleys at Home (1938) 
Peck's Bad Boy with the Circus (1938) 
Made for Each Other (1939) 
The Lady's from Kentucky (1939) 
Reform School (1939) 
Parole Fixer (1940) 
Women Without Names (1940) 
Primrose Path (1940) 
No Time for Comedy (1940) 
I Want a Divorce (1940) 
Virginia (1941) 
Sign of the Wolf (1941) 
Kisses for Breakfast (1941) 
Belle Starr (1941) 
Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) 
The Vanishing Virginian (1942) 
Young America (1942) 
Reap the Wild Wind (1942) 
Holiday Inn (1942) 
The Big Street (1942) 
Seven Sweethearts (1942) 
Good Morning, Judge (1943) 
DuBarry Was a Lady (1943) 
All by Myself (1943) 
Top Man (1943) 
Jack London (1943) 
There's Something About a Soldier (1943) 
Follow the Boys (1944) 
South of Dixie (1944) 
Dixie Jamboree (1944) 
Barbary Coast Gent (1944) 
Delightfully Dangerous (1945) 
Young Widow (1946) 
Lover Come Back (1946) 
Banjo (1947) 
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) 
A Southern Yankee (1948) 
Good Sam (1948) 
For the Love of Mary (1948) 
Tell It to the Judge (1949) 
Girls' School (1950) 
The Jackie Robinson Story (1950) 
My Blue Heaven (1950) 
Never Wave at a WAC (1952) 
Colorado Sundown (1952) 
I Dream of Jeanie (1952) 
Good-bye, My Lady (1956) 
You Can't Run Away from It (1956) 
Teenage Rebel (1956) 
Tammy and the Bachelor (1957) 
The Goddess (1958) 
All the Fine Young Cannibals (1960) 
The Facts of Life (1960)

Short subjects:

Oriental Hugs (1928) 
Election Day (1929) 
Knights Before Christmas (1930) 
You're Telling Me (1932) 
Hesitating Love (1932) 
The Midnight Patrol (1933) (scenes deleted) 
Grin and Bear It (1933)


1. Gates, Henry Louis. Africana: arts and letters: an A-to-Z reference of writers, musicians, and artists (2005), p. 71. ISBN 0-7624-2042-1 
2. Mammy archetype-Mammy-Archetype 
3. Regester, Charlene (2010). "Louise Beavers: Negotiating Racial Difference". African American Actresses: The Struggle for Visibility, 1900-1960. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. pp. 72–106. 
4. [1] Blackface. 
5. IMDb profile. 
6. [2] Find A Grave.

"Heidi" Actor Delmar Watson 2008 Hollywood Forever Cemetery

David Delmar Watson (July 1, 1926 – October 26, 2008) was an American child actor and news photographer.[1][2]


He was one of nine children born to actor, stuntman, and pioneer special effects artist Coy Watson Sr. The family lived in the old Edendale area (now Echo Park) of Los Angeles. Delmar attended Belmont High School.[2][3]

Delmar acted in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington alongside Jimmy Stewart and in Heidi with Shirley Temple. His eight siblings (five brothers and three sisters) also acted in films, including Coy Jr., Harry and Bobs.[2] He and his brothers played the governor's sons in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. [3] The family was honored by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce by placing the Watson family ("the First Family of Hollywood") star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 6674 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.[3]

Delmar Watson edited and published five books: "Quick, Watson, The Camera', 1976; Los Angeles The Olympic City, 1932-1984, 1984; The 10th Olympiad - Japan, 1984; Goin' Hollywood 1887-1987, 1988; Delmar Watson's "Babe," The One and Only, 1992.


Watson died in his Glendale, California home from prostate cancer, aged 82.[2] He is inurned at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Selected filmography 

Annie Oakley (1935) as Wesley Oakley 
Gas House Kids Go West (1947)


1. Nelson, Valerie J. "Delmar Watson, child actor turned news photographer, dies at 82", Los Angeles Times. October 28, 2008. 
2. Andres, Holly J. "Famed news photographer Delmar Watson dies." Daily News. October 28, 2008. 
3. Pool, Bob. "Star Shines Brightly for Hollywood's First Family; Movies: The Watson clan of former child actors finally receives recognition for its pioneering contribution to films." The Los Angeles Times. April 23, 1999. Metro Part B Metro Desk Page 1.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"The Body" Actress Marie McDonald 1965 Forest Lawn Glendale Cemetery

Marie McDonald (July 6, 1923 – October 21, 1965) was an American singer and actress known as "The Body Beautiful" and later nicknamed "The Body."

Early life

Born Cora Marie Frye in Burgin, Kentucky, she was the daughter Evertt "Ed" Frye and Marie Taboni (née McDonald) who performed in the Ziegfeld Follies.[1] After her parents divorced, she eventually moved with her mother and stepfather to Yonkers, New York. At the age of 15, began competing in numerous beauty pageants and was named "The Queen of Coney Island," "Miss Yonkers," and "Miss Loew's Paradise." At the age of 15, she dropped out of school and began modeling.[2] In 1939, McDonald was named "Miss New York State."[3][4] Later that same year, she debuted in George White's Scandals of 1939.[2] The following year, at age 17, she landed a showgirl role in the Broadway production at the Earl Carroll Theatre called Earl Carroll's Vanities.

Shortly thereafter, she moved to Hollywood hoping to develop a career in show business. She continued modeling and continued to work for the owner of the Broadway theatre as a showgirl at his Sunset Boulevard nightclub.


After auditioning for Tommy Dorsey in December 1940, she joined Dorsey and His Orchestra on his radio show and she later performed with other big bands.[2] Dorsey suggested that she change her last name from "Frye" to her mother's maiden name "McDonald" which she used professionally for the rest of her life.[1] In 1942, she was put under contract by Universal for $75 a week and immediately appeared in several minor roles.[2] That year, she appeared in three motion pictures, most notably, Pardon My Sarong, which earned her the nickname "The Body" for her shapely physique.[5] She was eventually dropped by Universal and signed with Paramount Pictures, earning $100 a week. While at Paramount, McDonald appeared in Lucky Jordan (1942). The following year, she was loaned to Republic Pictures where she co-starred in A Scream in the Dark, a "B" detective mystery that met with reasonable success.[2] During World War II, McDonald became one of Hollywood's most popular pin-up girls and she posed for the United States military magazine, Yank. While she initially did not mind being called "The Body," McDonald soon grew tired of the nickname and focus on her body and expressed a desire to be known for her acting and singing skills.[1]

She returned to Paramount where she appeared in supporting roles. In 1944, McDonald co-starred in Guest in the House, in which she received the first positive reviews in her career. 

Her next starring role came when she worked for independent producer Edward Small as the title character in the 1945 screwball comedy Getting Gertie's Garter. 

In 1947, McDonald signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and co-starred with Gene Kelly Living in a Big Way (1947). McDonald and Kelly did not get along while shooting and the film was a financial failure. McDonald bought out the rest of her contract at M-G-M and went to Colombia Pictures where she appeared in a supporting role in Tell It to the Judge (1949).[2]

In 1950, McDonald appeared in Once a Thief and Hit Parade of 1951 which would be her final films for the next eight years. For the remainder of the 1950s, McDonald focused on theatre and music. McDonald recorded an LP for RCA Victor in 1957, The Body Sings, backed by Hal Borne and His Orchestra, which consisted of twelve standard ballads. She also toured the world in a very successful nightclub act. She returned to the screen in 1958 when she was cast as actress Lola Livingston in a slapstick comedy opposite Jerry Lewis in The Geisha Boy. In 1963, she made her last appearance in the film in the sex comedy Promises! Promises!, opposite Jayne Mansfield.

Personal life

McDonald's six marriages and various romances kept her in the media throughout her career. McDonald's first marriage was to sportswriter Richard Allord in 1940. The marriage was annulled after three weeks.[6] In January 1943, McDonald married her agent, Victor Orsatti, in Reno, Nevada.[7] They divorced in May 1947.[4] While awaiting her divorce from Orsatti, McDonald had an affair with mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. Siegel reportedly dumped McDonald because of her chronic tardiness.[2]

McDonald's third and fourth marriages were to millionaire shoe manufacturer Harry Karl. They initially married in September 1947.[8][9] After McDonald suffered several miscarriages,[10] the couple adopted two children, Denice and Harrison.[8] They separated in August 1954 and were divorced that November.[11] Shortly thereafter, the couple announced that they would remarry. By January 1955 however, McDonald claimed that plans to remarry were "all off" because she discovered she was allergic to Karl.[12] Despite this claim, McDonald and Karl remarried in Arizona in June 1955.[13] They separated in March 1956 and, in May, Karl filed for divorce claiming that McDonald had beat him causing him "grievous mental suffering."[14] At the time of their separation, McDonald was pregnant with the couple's first biological child.[15] Karl dropped the divorce suit in June. In July, McDonald filed for divorced from Karl and was granted an interlocutory divorce decree later that month but their divorce was never finalized.[9][16] Their daughter, Tina Marie, was born in September 1956.[16] During their separation, McDonald dated Michael Wilding.[4] McDonald and Karl reconciled again in 1957 but separated again in December 1957.[9][17] They divorced for good on April 16, 1958.[18]


During her final separation from Karl, McDonald began dating George Capri. Capri was one of the owners of the Flamingo Las Vegas.[19] On June 12, 1958, Capri accompanied McDonald to the hospital after she accidentally overdosed on sleeping pills while the two were staying in Las Vegas.[20] The following month, McDonald told the media that the two planned to marry after Capri's divorce.[19] They broke up in September 1958.[21]

On May 23, 1959, McDonald married television executive Louis Bass in Las Vegas.[22] She filed for divorced after ten months charging Bass with "mental cruelty."[23] On August 6, 1961, she married banker and attorney Edward Callahan in Las Vegas. On September 17, 1962, Callahan filed suit in Los Angeles asking for a divorce from McDonald for mental cruelty or that the marriage be annulled due to fraud. Callahan claimed that the two had only lived together for two days because McDonald had no intention of making a home with him or having his children. Callahan also charged that McDonald would not convert to Roman Catholicism.[24] McDonald counter sued dismissing Callahan's claim, stating that they had lived together until September 7. She also claimed that Callahan had committed adultery and borrowed $2600 from her to finance their wedding and honeymoon which he did not repay.[25] McDonald married for the sixth time to Donald Taylor in 1963. They met while McDonald was appearing in Promises, Promises, the final film which Taylor produced. They remained married until McDonald's death.

Alleged kidnapping

On January 4, 1957, McDonald's mother phoned police claiming that a man who sounded "nervous" called her at her home in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles at around 12 a.m. and told her that he had abducted McDonald from her Los Angeles home. McDonald's mother went to her daughter's house and discovered a note in the mailbox instructing her not to call the police and that "they" would be in touch with her. Approximately two hours later, McDonald's then estranged husband Harry Karl also received a call from a male who sounded "like a nervous young kid" also informing him not call police if he wanted to see McDonald alive again.[26]

While McDonald was supposedly being held by her abductors at another home, she telephoned her agent Harold Plant, actor Michael Wilding (whom she was dating at the time), and columnist Harrison Carroll. McDonald told Carroll that two men kidnapped her from her house, demanded that she give them her ring and money and gave her "a shot of something."[26] McDonald later said one of the men discovered her making the call to Carroll; he then took the phone from her, slapped her, blindfolded her and loaded her into a car. According to McDonald, the two men drove with her for some time and discussed taking her to a house in Mexico but, after hearing reports of her kidnapping on the radio, decided against this idea and dumped her on the side of the road. On January 5, a truck driver discovered McDonald on a highway near Indio, California. After being rescued, McDonald told police that on January 4, "two swarthy men" came to her house brandishing a sawed off gun demanding that she open the door or they would shoot into the bedrooms of her children. After entering the home, McDonald said the two men took some jewelry, prepared a note and discussed demanding a $30,000 ransom for her return. The men then allowed McDonald to put on a robe and slippers and pack a small carrying case. They then forced McDonald into their car where she claimed she was blindfolded and driven to a home. At the home, McDonald said the men forced her to swallow pills which made her drowsy. She also claimed that she was able to make the three phone calls when the men left the room.[27][28][29] A doctor who examined McDonald discovered she had two cracked teeth, bruises on her face and abrasions on her neck, legs and cheek but was otherwise unharmed.[29] The doctor concluded that McDonald's injuries were not consistent with the supposed assault she claimed the two men inflicted on her.[28]

Police immediately began to doubt McDonald's story which changed several times. Those doubts were furthered when it was discovered that the newspapers the two abductors used to supposedly construct the note found in McDonald's mailbox were found in McDonald's fireplace.[27] Upon searching McDonald's home, police found a copy of the novel The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, by Sylvia Tate. The book tells the story of a movie star who is kidnapped by two men. One investigator noticed that details in the book matched McDonald's story. Police then asked McDonald to undergo a polygraph test but her lawyer refused.[30] McDonald agreed to reenact the abduction which the police filmed.[29] McDonald's estranged husband Harry Karl also doubted the story and claimed McDonald was "not a well woman." He also said that he doubted that two men would have easily abducted her as she would have surely fought back.[27] McDonald then accused Karl of orchestrating the abduction for publicity purposes (Karl denied this calling McDonald's claims "absurd and ridiculous").[31] She later admitted that she made up Karl's alleged involvement.[27] After investigating the alleged kidnapping, police admitted that they could find no conclusive evidence that the event took place due to "perplexing discrepancies."[32] On January 16, a grand jury convened to investigate the kidnapping.[32] McDonald testified that her story changed frequently because she was in shock when she gave her initial statement and had been taking sedatives when she gave other statements.[33] After weighing the evidence, the grand jury could not come up with any conclusive evidence to bring charges against anyone.[27]


On October 21, 1965, McDonald's sixth husband, Donald F. Taylor, found McDonald's body slumped over her dressing table in their Hidden Hills, California home.[34] On October 30, the coroner announced that McDonald's death was caused by "active drug intoxication due to multiple drugs" and was determined to be an accident or a suicide. The case was then referred to a suicide team of psychologists and psychiatrists who would determine the final mode of McDonald's death.[35] McDonald's funeral was held on October 23 at the Church of the Recessional at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale in Glendale, California. Her remains were interred in the Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale.[36] In December 1965, the suicide team classified her death as "accidental" after determining that McDonald likely did not choose to commit suicide.[37][38][39]

Three months after McDonald's death, on January 3, 1966, her widower, Donald F. Taylor, died of an intentional overdose of Seconal.[38] McDonald's three surviving children were raised by Harry Karl and his wife, Debbie Reynolds. On May 4, 1967, McDonald's father, Evertt "Ed" Frye, committed suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot to the head in the garage of his New Smyrna Beach, Florida home.[40]


Year Title Role Notes

1941 It Started with Eve Cigarette girl Uncredited 
1942 You're Telling Me Girl Uncredited 
1942 Pardon My Sarong Ferna 
1942 Lucky Jordan Pearl (Secretary) 
1943 Tornado Diana Linden 
1943 A Scream in the Dark Joan Allen 
1943 Riding High Bit part Uncredited Alternative title: Melody Inn 
1943 Caribbean Romance Alternative title: Musical Parade: Caribbean Romance 
1944 Standing Room Only Opal Uncredited 
1944 I Love a Soldier Gracie 
1944 Our Hearts Were Young and Gay Blonde Uncredited 
1944 Guest in the House Miriam Alternative title: Satan in Skirts 
1945 Getting Gertie's Garter Gertie 
1945 It's a Pleasure Gale Fletcher 
1947 Living in a Big Way Margo Morgan 
1949 Tell It to the Judge Ginger Simmons 
1950 Once a Thief Flo 
1950 Hit Parade of 
1951 Michele 
1954 The Danny Thomas Show Episode: "Pittsburgh" 
1958 The Geisha Boy Lola Livingston 
1959 The Red Skelton Show Lil Episode: "Clem the Mailman" 
1963 Promises! Promises! Claire Banner


1. Johnson, Irving (June 13, 1946). "Mama's Girl". The Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 3. 
2. Donnelley, Paul (2004). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Music Sales Group. p. 470. ISBN 0-711-99512-5. 
3. "Beauty Contest Winners Movies Contract Losers". The Milwaukee Journal. August 7, 1948. p. 3. 
4. "Marie McDonald Disappears; Note And Phone Calls Probed". Reading Eagle. January 4, 1957. p. 19. 
5. Ayto, John; Cobham, Ebenezer; Crofton, Ian (2006). Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase and Fable. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. p. 96. ISBN 0-304-36809-1. 
6. "Mystery Shrouds Death Of Actress Marie McDonald". Wilmington Morning Star. October 22, 1965. p. 1. 
7. "Takes Plunge". The Sarasota Herald-Times. January 18, 1943. p. 2. 
8. "Marie McDonald Gets Final Divorce Decree". Ocala Star-Banner. April 19, 1958. p. 7. 
9. "Her Life Threatened, Miss McDonald Says". The Miami News. March 7, 1958. p. 5A. 
10. Donnelley 2004 p.471 
11. "Marie McDonald Wins Divorce, $1500 Per Month for Children". Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian. November 23, 1954. p. 2. 
12. "Marie McDonald 'Gets Sick' With Former Husband". Toledo Blade. January 6, 1955. p. 2. 
13. "Marie McDonald and Her Favorite Allergy Remarry". Toledo Blade. June 22, 1955. p. 2. 
14. "Millionaire Asks a Divorce From Marie McDonald". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. May 22, 1956. p. 11. 
15. "Marie McDonald Home After Hospital Visit". Kentucky New Era. May 29, 1956. p. 10. 
16. "Marie McDonald Gets Final Divorce Decree". Wilmington Morning Star. October 22, 1965. p. 1. 
17. "Shoe Millionaire Asks Marie McDonald To Get Divorce From Him". Ocala Star-Banner. March 5, 1958. p. 1. 
18. "Marie McDonald Granted Divorce". Toledo Blade. April 17, 1958. p. 16. 
19. Johnson, Erskine (July 13, 1958). "Marie McDonald Is Happy Again: She's In Love". The Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 8. 
20. "Marie McDonald Leaves Hospital". Reading Eagle. June 15, 1958. p. 32. 
21. Wilson, Earl (September 10, 1958). "Julie Wilson's Wig Proves Designers Hate Women". The Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 8. 
22. "Marie McDonald Weds Again". St. Petersburg Times. May 25, 1959. p. 14-A. 
23. "Actress Sues". The Spokesman-Review. March 17, 1960. p. 14. 
24. "Marie McDonald's Fourth Husband Seeking Divorce". Times Daily. September 18, 1962. p. 2.
25. "Marie McDonald Seeks Divorce". The Tuscaloosa News. November 4, 1962. p. 6. 
26. "Marie McDonald Reported Held By Kidnappers". Ellensburg Daily Record. January 4, 1957. pp. 1–2. 
27. Harnisch, Larry (2007-08-23). "Fuzzy Pink Nightgown". 
28. "Marie McDonald Tells Police How She Was Seized by Two Men". Reading Eagle. January 5, 1957. pp. 1, 10. 
29. "Marie McDonald Stars In Police Film Of 'Kidnapping'". The Telegraph. January 8, 1957. p. 9. 
30. "Police Read Novel for Tie-Up In Marie McDonald Kidnapping". The Victoria Advocate. January 14, 1957. p. 2. 
31. "Death Threat Report Enters McDonald Case". Lewiston Evening Journal. March 7, 1958. p. 2. 
32. "Grand Jury Probes Marie's 'Kidnap'". The Deseret News. January 16, 1957. p. 3B. 
33. "Appearing Before Grand Jury: Marie Blames Shock, Sedatives For Kidnap Story Discrepancies". The Times. January 18, 1957. p. 12. 
34. "Mystery Shrouds Death Of Actress Marie McDonald". Wilmington Morning Star. October 22, 1965. p. 1. 
35. "Marie McDonald's Death Laid To Mixture Of Drugs". Toledo Blade. October 30, 1965. p. 11. 
36. "Funeral Services Held For Actress". Reading Eagle. October 24, 1965. p. 17. 
37. "New Ruling Calls Marie McDonald's Death Accidental". The Toledo Blade. December 20, 1965. p. 2. 
38. "Movie Producer Donald Taylor Apparent Suicide". Rome News-Tribune. January 3, 1966. p. 1. 
39. "Body Found by Callers". Reading Eagle. January 3, 1966. p. 9. 
40. "Father Of Late Actress Found Shot To Death". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. May 4, 1967. p. 1.