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Steve Allen

Though known largely for his work as a stand-up comedian, talk-show host, and creator of The Tonight Show, Steve Allen was a 20th-century renaissance man - pianist, prolific composer of more than 8,500 songs (which gained him entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most prolific composer of modern times), symphony conductor, political activist, singer and musician with 75 albums to his credit, and author of 54 books.

Throughout his life, the serious side of Allen took center stage as he moved towards cultural and media criticism, creating such television series and accompanying books as PBS's Emmy and Peabody Award-winning Meeting of the Minds. In four series broadcast in the '70s and '80s, Allen moderated a panel of actors impersonating historic figures such as Marquis de Sade, 18th-century economist-jurist Cesare Beccaria, China's Dowager Empress Tz'u-hsi and American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who explained their diverse philosophies.

 Featured Audio
 

Speaker of the Week #2
In this episode of Speaker of the Week, broadcast July 31,
1990, Steve Allen speaks at the Banff speaks at the Banff
Television Festival about the moral decline in media
communications.

He opens by commenting on the lack of substance in TV
talk shows, and tabloid shows, and then discusses why
networks put so much emphasis on ratings and marketing.
Allen concludes by reading a poem and plays a joke on
the audience.

Listen Now!


 

 

He was also the author of Dumbth: The Lost Art of Thinking, first released in 1996, and in subsequent modified editions. A humorous and provocative examination of the increasing tendency toward muddle-headedness and ineptitude - Allen's concept of "dumbth," - he added to the book in subsequent editions, its final rendition released in 1998.

Towards the end of Allen's life - he died in October 2000 at the age of 78 - he became a media and cultural commentator, and his final book, Vulgarians at the Gate: Trash TV and Raunch Radio - Raising the Standards of Popular Culture was released posthumously in 2001.
 

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