Marty Allen, the bug-eyed comic who formed one half of the hit comedic duo Allen & Rossi, died Monday night in Las Vegas at age 95.
The Associated Press confirmed the news via his spokeswoman Candi Cazau, who said that he died from complications from pneumonia with his performing partner of 30 years and wife Karon Kate Blackwell at his side.
Allen was well-known for his catchphrase “hello dere.” His career began in the 1950s, when he worked as an opening act with partner Mitch DeWood for Sarah Vaughan, Eydie Gorme, and Nat King Cole. After their partnership ended, Allen joined up with Steve Rossi to form Allen & Rossi, with whom he found fame.
Allen & Rossi produced a number of hit comedy records and appeared 44 times on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” including the episode which also constituted the Beatles’ debut performance. Allen and Rossi parted ways in 1968, though they would continue to reunite for shows through the ’90s.
“Everyone remembers those shows with The Beatles, and they were great, but we appeared on all the shows,” Allen said in 2014. “There wasn’t a talk show on TV that didn’t want Allen & Rossi.”
Allen made hundreds of television appearances in the ’70s and ’80s in serious roles and daytime televison, beginning with a role in “The Big Valley” as Waldo Diefendorfer. He appeared regularly on the game show “Hollywood Squares,” as well as other game shows like “Password.”
After their marriage in 1984, Allen and Blackwell began teaming up to perform a musical comedy act around the country, landing gigs at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino, the Southpoint Casino, and Palace Station. The couple performed through the new millennium, with sell-out shows in 2015.
A veteran of WWII, Allen participated in annual comedy tours of military hospitals under the “Hello Dere” moniker beginnig in 1968, and repeated the tour through 1972.
“It’s unbelievable to be 94 years old,” Marty Allen told a New York audience in 2016. “My wife says, ‘What do you want for your birthday?’ I told her, ‘An antique.’ So she framed my birth certificate.”