Remembering Steve Allen

steve allen AP

He was a comedian, actor, author, songwriter, musician and the original host of what became The Tonight Show. Steve Allen died Monday night at the age of 78. His friends and colleagues commented Tuesday on what Allen meant to his profession.

"He was one of the sharpest guys off the cuff. He never played dumb. He played many characters, straight man and comic, and he did each role perfectly. But the role he played best was Steve Allen." Tonight Show host Jay Leno

"All of us who have hosted the Tonight Show format owe a debt of gratitude to Steve Allen. He was a most creative innovator and brilliant entertainer." -- Former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson

"He had a magnificent mind. His mind just wouldn't stop. It was overflowing with a variety of subjects. He had an extraordinary technique of making you feel warm and communicated with you. He was a kind, gentle and warm man. I can't put into words the way I felt about this man. I loved him." -- Entertainer Dick Clark

"What was great about Steve is all of America thought of him as their friend or neighbor. He was talented in so many different ways, he was a true triple threat kind of guy. Steve Allen was an American original.'' -- Pianist Richard Williams, a frequent guest on Allen's television shows.

"Quite an incredible man we have lost. It was just quite a thing to watch him. He was always doing something. He was such an intelligent man and that's what made him so prolific with writing. Lately, he's been on a vent to lift up the morality of our business. He was very upset about what happened on certain radio and television shows. He was a very concerned citizen about what was going on in the world." -- Entertainer Ed McMahon

"I'm not sure they make men like Steve Allen anymore. He worked to the last moment. He was a legendary figure who had real depth." -- Michael Levine, former publicist for Allen

"He had one of the best comic minds in the business. No matter what you were talking about, he could make it funny." -- Comedian Rich Little

"Rarely have I ever known a man more humble and more decent. What made Steve truly heroic was what he did in his final years, so courageously championing a national cause to restore a sense of decency to the industry he so dearly loved and which has so clearly lost its way.'' -- Brent Bozell III, chairman of the Parents Television Council, a nonprofit organization to restore responsibility to the entertainment industry

"He was my best friend and my partner on stage and off for more than 48 years. He was the most talented man I've ever known and the one true love of my life." -- Wife Jayne Meadows

"Steve Allen was an enormous influence on television. His early work is really the foundation for what late-night shows have become." -- Talk show host David Letterman

"If it wasn't fr him there wouldn't be any talk shows." -- Comedian Milton Berle

"His career has proved that he was one of the great renaissance figures of today, whether it's music, writing or talking. He was helpful for anybody in any kind of cause. I can't believe we are losing him." -- Comedian Art Linkletter

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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