Pittsburgh Allderdice, formerly known as Taylor Allderdice, will induct six honorees in its inaugural Hall of Fame ceremonies, Thursday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m.
And it won’t be a boring ceremony, not with comedian Marty Allen as one of the inductees.
Allen, 87, who graduated from Allderdice in 1940, is looking forward to coming back to his alma mater.
“It’s a great honor,” he said. “It was wonderful growing up and going to school there. It was one of the happiest times of my life.”
Allen, the son of Elsie and Louis Alpern, grew up as Morton Alpern and lived with his family on Forward Avenue, across from Allderdice. Allen’s father ran a restaurant and bar.
As a student, Allen loved English, and writing stories and novellas. While in school, he worked for Littles Shoe Store, and he said he still has contact with some of his Allderdice friends.
Not surprisingly, Allen was the class clown. He said he was always thankful when he was not thrown out of class.
After high school, Allen joined the Air Force and earned a Soldier’s Medal of Valor for bravery. He attended the University of Southern California, studying journalism, while doing stand-up comedy in small clubs.
Allen became well known in the 1950s, opening for established acts that included Nat “King” Cole. Teaming up with Steve Rossi, their comedy act, Allen & Rossi, went on to success with comedy albums, television appearances and a movie. During these years, Allen became known and recognized by his phrase, “Hello dere,” He was also known for the “style” of his hair — wild and out there.
Allen went on to dramatic roles on television and eventually became a regular on “Hollywood Squares.” Frequently seen on daytime television shows, Allen said he became “the darling of daytime television.”
Life is still about performing, but now he teams up with his wife of 25 years, Karon Blackwell, who sings and is Allen’s “straight lady.” They live and perform in Las Vegas, and they also play other venues, including cruise ships.
For his own fun, Allen enjoys movies and reading.
Along with Allen, the first inductees into the Allderdice Hall of Fame are the late Steelers broadcaster and award-winning writer Myron Cope; writer Iris Rainer Dart; Olympic Bronze medalist and businessman Herbert Douglas; clinical cancer researcher Dr. Bernard Fisher; and Holocaust survivor, engineer and teacher Robert Geminder.
Allen will speak to students at the induction ceremony in the Allderdice auditorium. No doubt, he will make the audience laugh, but he also has a serious message he wants them to hear:
“Listen, if you believe in something and you really want to do it, go for it.”
(Angela Leibowicz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)