DAVE ALLEN, the Dublin-born comedian/actor who is making his Broadway stage debut as the star of An Evening With Dave Allen, has been described by the British press as "London's most notorious wit" and as "Great Britain's most literate and intelligent comic." A major television star in England, Australia and New Zealand, Allen's unique brand of humor has become familiar to millions of Americans in recent years through wide syndication of his popular BBC series "Dave Allen at Large."
Born David Tynan O'Mahony in July 1936, the son of a prominent Irish journalist, Dave Allen decided to become a professional entertainer at the age of 19. He spent the next four years touring the English provinces, working as a comedian and actor in theatres, nightclubs, pantomimes, vaudeville and, occasionally, on radio. In 1959 he made his first television appearance in a BBC production of "New Faces." "I was given three minutes, told to relax, take your time and, above all, be yourself," he recalls. "It turned out to be the longest and most terrifying three minutes of my life."
In 1961 he toured the provinces again, sharing a bill with a group of unknown musicians and singers -- The Beatles. The following year he toured South Africa with the legendary Sophie Tucker, whom he fondly remembers as "one of the most charming and delightful performers with whom I have ever worked." In early 1963, while doing a nightclub and television tour of Australia, Allen was contacted to host a late night talk show on TV. What was to have been an eight-week season was extended to an 18-month engagement. "Tonight With Dave Allen" became one of the most successful television shows in Australia.
At the end of 1964, Allen returned to England where he was still virtually unknown as a performer. Within a month of his return, he appeared on the A.T.V. television show, "Sunday Night at the Palladium," again sharing the bill with The Beatles who, by this time had become his good friends and were beginning to attain international stardom. Within a year of his return from Australia, Dave was offered one of the most coveted positions in television -- compared to the Palladium Show. In 1968 "Tonight With Dave Allen" premiered on British television. It quickly became just as popular in England as it had been in Australia. Dave became known for his personal involvement with his guests in funny, informative and sometimes extremely dangerous situations. "I think a great number of the viewers tuned in wondering if this would be the night they would see me kill myself," Allen says. In mid 1969, he temporarily turned from comedy to focus his creative efforts on the making of documentary films. He traveled to the United States where he spent nine weeks filming a series for the BBC, entitled "Melting Pot," which explored the social changes taking place in America at the time.
In 1971, the BBC2 offered Allen the chance to do the type of comedy show he had wanted to create for years, a break from the usual format of the time. No singers, no dancers, no big bands, no chorus lines, no flashy show business paraphernalia. Just Dave on a bare stage, sitting on a long-legged stool, smoking a cigarette, glass in hand, talking directly into the camera, interspersed with short comedy sketches. The series, "Dave Allen at Large" became one of the top-rated shows on British television and stayed in that hagh-ranking position for seven years. It was also one of the few British comedy shows to be sold worldwide, including Iron Curtain nations.
The following year, in 1972, Dave Allen realized a lifetime ambition by making his legitimate stage debut in The Royal Court's production of Edna O'Brien's play, A Pagan Place. The following season he returned to London's West End playing Mr. Darling and Captain Hook opposite Maggie Smith in Peter Pan at the London Coliseum. After completing another TV series for the BBC2, Allen returned to Australia as one of the international cast of performers to appear at the long-awaited opening of the Sydney Opera House. This was followed by two television specials in Australia, and a concert tour of New Zealand.
In 1974 Dave Allen did extensive club tours of England and New Zealand, and for A.T.V. in England made two documentaries about eccentrics -- "In Search of the Great Eccentrics" and "Eccentrics at Play." "Initially, I thought these people eccentric but, after meeting them, talking to them and filming them, I came to the conclusion that if anyone was eccentric it was me. Surely sitting in traffic jams, or spending hours in a studio, where one never sees the light of day, or even worse, getting on a plane and flying over some of the most beautiful parts of the world without seeing any of it, must be termed eccentric, if not sheer lunacy!" That same year, he had his first book published, A Little Night Reading, an anthology of horror and supernatural stories on subjects by writers of his choice.
In 1975 Dave Allen recorded another television series for the BBC and made a rare stage appearance with a one-man show at the Royal Court Theatre, the proceeds of which were used for the repair of the theatre's roof which was collapsing! He subsequently went to New York where he participated in the ABC-TV "Salute to Sir Lew Grade" along with such other British stars as Julie Andrews, Peter Sellers, Tom Jones, and John Lennon. This was followed by a one-man concert tour of Australia and a highly successful five-week engagement in Hong Kong. Over the next two years, Dave Allen made two new series of documentaries in England and the United States. He wandered through Britian looking for and often finding people with unusual pursuits, music pre-dating Christianity, obscure legends and little-known folklore. He made 14 programs in the United States on various aspects of the unusual side of American life.
In 1978 Dave Allen spent many months on the road with his one-man show, touring England's leading theatres and breaking attendance records on the way. In May of that year he starred in a BBC television spectacular which was chosen as the network's official entry at the Montreux Television Festival and where it won the coveted Silver Rose as the Best Comedy Programme. Dave was also nominated for an Emmy Award for the same special.
In that same year, Dave Allen also made his television debut as a dramatic actor when he starred in a 90-minute play for London Weekend written by Alan Bennett. The year 1978 finished on a high note with a ten-week SRO engagement at London's Vaudeville Theatre with his one-man show. Over the past few years, Dave Allen has presented his one-man comedy show throughout England, New Zealand and Australia with great success.
In May of 1981 An Evening With Dave Allen was premiered in the United States during a successful two-week engagement at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston. Earlier this year (1981), Dave completed two televison specials for the BBC. Those two specials will be shown in the U.S. later this year.
Transcribed from the playbill for An Evenign With Dave Allen, The Booth Theatre, Broadway, New York, New York, on October 1981.
A very Special THANK YOU! to: ApplCinamn for transcribing the information from this playbill that she has.
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