LAS VEGAS LEGENDS
"Humor is a social lubricant that helps us get over some of the bad spots."
- Steve Allen
Los Angeles Times, March 12, 1961: "Many-faceted Steve Allen reveals yet another facet Thursday when he invades the Las Vegas gold coast for the first time. With him for his assault on the Flamingo hotel will be his wife, Jayne Meadows; mother, vaudevillian Belle Montrose; and Gabe Dell, a regular from his television show. They will be accompanied by three black caskets. As Steve tells it: 'We broke the act in last week in Fresno. About the only problem was transporting three black caskets around. It looks pretty weird when you come up to a motel and instead of suitcases you unload coffins."
Known primarily as the pioneer of television talk and variety, humorist Steve Allen was also a big draw in Las Vegas, you can see him and his wife Jayne Meadows briefly in the movie Casino as Robert DeNiro's character is walking around the showroom.
Steve Allen was a practiciner of observational humor, he was quick witted which msade him especially suited to the talk show game. We don't have examples of his Vegas act but this Tonight Show clip will give you an idea of his easy going manner.
Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows first played The Flamingo back in 1961. Meadows told reporter STEPHEN MICHAEL SHEARER, "We just looked at each other. We both sat there horrified, me particularly. With Steve it didn't matter, he was a brilliant comedian and all. But I thought, 'What in the world am I going to do?' when I saw all those girls, half-naked most of them!"
"I looked at Steve and said, 'I can't do it!' And he said to me: 'We have to. We've already signed the contract.' And I thought, 'This is ridiculous!' I knew why we were invited to appear there. Steve was the 'fair-haired kid' on television having started 'The Tonight Show,' literally inventing late night television. And he was a comic legend. I had been on a hit television show ('I've Got a Secret'), which was rated number five for seven years in a row. But I mean, I was the daughter of Anglican Catholic (High Episcopal) missionaries, born and raised in China. I never thought I would be on a stage in Las Vegas!"
They triumphed with a blending of standup and sketch comedy; in fact their initial run was extended and Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows became a mainstay on the neon Strip. As a couple they exemplified the quiet elegance Las Vegas strove for.
If you want to see, in action, a Casino in the movies, check out Casino starring Robert DeNiro. In it you'll see Stevo and his wife Jayne Meadows.
Steve Allen passed away in 2000, he had written an untold number of books and over 14,000 songs including "Impossible", "This Could Be the Start of Something Big", and the "Theme from Picnic."
BONUS: Here we have Steve along with Johnny Carson prank calling fellow talk show host Jack Paar.
From a 1959 show with the Three Stooges:
"I used to be a heavy gambler. But now I just make mental bets. That's how I lost my mind."
"The hair is real - it's the
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