Fred Allen: His Life and Wit

Robert Taylor, Author
Robert Taylor, Author Little Brown and Company $38 (340p) ISBN 978-0-316-83388-2
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
For two decades Fred Allen, ``the man with the flat voice,'' was America's most brilliant radio humorist, and for a time his program was the most popular in the country. This appreciative biography, enlivened by hundreds of quotations from Allen's books, journals, letters, scrapbooks and scripts, follows the career of Boston-born John Florence Sullivan (1894-1956) from his early days as a vaudeville juggler to his subsequent appearances as a Broadway comedian, culminating in his 25 years of national prominence. Boston Globe art and book critic Taylor ( Saranac ) discusses Allen's meticulous working methods, his longstanding ``feud'' with Jack Benny, his happy marriage and working relationship with Portland Hoffa, Allen's wife of 27 years, and the characters he used to interview in Allen's Alley : Ajax Cassidy, Sen. Beauregard Claghorn, Titus Moody, Mrs. Pansy Nussbaum and Falstaff Openshaw. Allen's cleverness and wit, his preeminence as a master of pace and timing, acknowledged and proclaimed by the likes of James Thurber and Groucho Marx, are fully represented in this delightful, distinguished biography. Photos. (June)
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