The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 20, 1963 · Page 112
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The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 112

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 20, 1963
Page 112
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PEOPLE Jester From Squirrel Hill By Carl A pone Press Staff Writer M V lf 1 hi 01 ' 7 1 Marty Allen I N 1948, an ex-GI who wanted to be a comedian walked into the office ol a boofting agent in Downtown Pittsburgh. His name was Marty Alpern of Squirrel - Hill. He was in his 20s; shaped like a hand grenade (5 ft. 7 in., 185 pounds) ; and his hair looked like he escaped from a wind tunnel. The agent listened to his request for booking, looked closely at the visitor with the droopy eyes and said: "Are you funny, kid?" "Oh, yes," said Marty. "Very funny." Said the agent: "All right, you find a club that will have you and I'll book you into the place." To the agent's surprise, Marty found a place. After a great deal of pavement-pounding, he found a small club in Homestead that needed a comedian for Saturday night. The price: $12.50. The agent took 10 per cent of the $12.50 and booked Marty into the club. Marty (he took the stage name of Allen out of admiration for Comedian Fred Allen) did so well he was hired for three more weekend shows. The career of Marty Allen whose "hello dere" humor has now taken him from the $12.50 to the $12,500 per week class was off and running. Says Marty: "To get experience I played every Moose, Elks, Sons of Italy and B'nai B'rith club and banquet group in the area." He also played some private clubs that had the toughest clientele this side of Tombstone Territory. While playing in such a club in Monon-gahela, a rough-looking customer invited him to table for a drink. Slap In The Face Marty politely told the man he did not drink. The customer promptly belted him across the face with the back of his hand. "This guy was a tough coal miner with hands so big he looked like he could shovel coal with them, so I sat down and began to drink with his party," Marty says. "Then, later in the evening, some wise guy tripped me while I was doing a dance in my act. The tough coal miner promptly broke a beer bottle on the edge of the table and had to be restrained from killing the guy who had tripped 'my friend Marty.' " Marty frequently played the Palace Theater in Monongahela. "When friends asked how I was doing. I told them I was playing the Palace. They thought I meanf the one in New York." At present, Marty and Steve Rossi are a comedy pair and bill themselves as America's Number One comedy team. They appeared as headliners with Carol Burnett- in a- revue which broke attendance records across the nation last summer. They are frequent guests on the Garry Moore, Perry Como, Ed Sullivan and Tonight TV shows, and will soon appear in a "situation comedy" TV series produced by Mr. Moore. Marty says the wonderful training he got in area clubs taught him to keep his act moving at a swift pace so that "the hecklers never got a chance to heckle." Like his act, Marty kept on the move also. ' . He got booking in Florida in 1952 and then went to California where he studied journalism at the University of Southern California during the day, and worked in night clubs at night. It was a tough grind. But he had faith in his ability and an urge inside to be a comedian, so he kept at it. He did very well and soon was playing some of the nation's top night clubs. One of Marty's admirers was Singer Nat King Cole with whom Marty appeared in numerous Las Vegas shows. Cole suggested that Marty and Rossi form a team. Although they had never met before, Rossi and Allen got together in Chicago, took a liking to each other and formed a comedy team. They have neyer regretted the move. They have no contract, just a handshake. Both figure that if 'they can't get along with a handshake, a contract wouldn't help. Rossi, the straight man, singer,, and Allen, the comedian, have the highest personal regard for each other and seldom have disagreements. Show business has been so good to Marty that his work "is like one big vacation." Actually, that vacation takes a great deal out of him. After the show, when the clown removes his gay mask, he is so tense that he frequently stays up all night writing poems, reading, staring at paintings and listening to-classical music. . "It's true that being on stage takes a lot out of you," he says. "You play on the emotions of tne audience, and its bound to sap your own." Onstage, Marty Is a man in motion, constantly whooping it up with a fast routine of dialogue skits or pantomime. Off-stage he is frequently serious and pensive. "You can't be the funny man all the time," he says. s Show Must Go On Marty has often gone on stage despite a variety of afflictions: high temperatures, viruses, and a badly sprained leg. He is always careful not to let his physical, emotional or financial problems shadow him. "An audience can sense if something is wrong," he says. Among Marty's most bitter disappointments were that he found certain people used him for their own personal gain. "I like people and I'm -not suspicious, so when people used me it was bitterly disappointing to me," he says. "But I'm not complaining. If you have five people you can call your friends, you have led a charmed life." Allen came on his trademark by accident. While playing at the Latin Casino in Philadelphia, Marty made a late entrance onto the stage. He looked at his exasperated partner and blurted out, "Hello dere." The line went over so well they use it frequently in every act. Marty's father and mothar, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Alpern live on Frazier Drive, Eastmont Allen is married to the former Lorraine Trydelle, mistress of reservations at the Concord Hotel in the Catskills. They have a penthouse apartment at the hotel which houses many fine paintings and antiques Marty has collected in his travels. A sentimental, soft-spoken, lovable man, Allen finds satisfaction in his work "because It's such a great feeling to make people laugh." Recently, a man who had seen Marty on stage told him: "I came into this night club feeling very depressed, but you made me laugh and now I feel better." This man's comment and the appreciation of others who have had their spirit lifted by his comedy mean a great deal to the Pittsburgh comedian. "There is a real need for comic relief In this tension-ridden world," he said. Pajt 4 Th Pittsburgh Press, Sunday, January 20, 1963

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