Stephen Valentine Patrick William “Steve” Allen (December 26, 1921 – October 30, 2000) was an American television personality, musician, composer, actor, comedian, and writer. Though he got his start in radio, Allen is best known for his television career. He first gained national attention as a guest host on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. He graduated to become the first host of The Tonight Show, where he was instrumental in innovating the concept of the television talk show. Thereafter, he hosted numerous game and variety shows, including The Steve Allen Show, I’ve Got a Secret, The New Steve Allen Show, and was a regular panel member on CBS’ What’s My Line?
Allen was an accomplished composer who wrote over 10,000 songs. He began his recording career in 1953 by signing with Decca Records‘s Brunswick Records sublabel. In one famous stunt, he made a bet with singer-songwriter Frankie Laine that he could write 50 songs a day for a week. Composing on public display in the window of a Hollywood music store, Allen met the quota, winning $1,000 from Laine. One of the songs, Let’s Go to Church Next Sunday, was recorded by both Perry Como and Margaret Whiting. Allen’s best-known songs are “This Could Be the Start of Something” and “The Gravy Waltz,” the latter having won a Grammy award in 1963 for Best Jazz Composition. He also wrote lyrics for the standards “Picnic” and “South Rampart Street Parade.” Allen composed the score to the Paul Mantee imitation James Bond film A Man Called Dagger (1967), with the score orchestrated by Ronald Stein.