Fred Allen (1894-1956)
Born John Florence Sullivan, Fred Allen is best known today for his radio shows of the 1930s-40s. After an early career as a successful boxer he worked in Vaudeville as a comedian and juggler. He called himself the "World's Worst Juggler" and added patter to his routine. After ten years in Vaudeville, he spent another ten years on Broadway. He began his radio career in 1932, and by 1936 he had a weekly radio audience of about 20 million. With the emergence of television the bottom fell out of the radio industry. Fred was one of the first to leave radio in 1949 and made a few attempts at television, but he was not as successful as his contemporaries such as Jack Benny, Bob Hope and George Burns & Gracie Allen who all starred in their own TV shows. He was highly critical of television, yet TV made famous many of his routines and characters from his radio shows such as Warner Brothers' Foghorn Leghorn character.
Fred Allen from The Museum of Broadcast Communications