Left to right: ISS President John Maxson, Dr. Steve Allen, Jr., and Gov. George Ryan.
Steve Allen, the son of two vaudeville comedians and a graduate of Hyde Park High School in Chicago, has been called "the most talented man in America." After being released from military service in 1943, Allen moved to Phoenix, Arizona where he started his career in entertainment working for Radio station KOY. He burst onto the national scene in the 1950's as the first host of "The Tonight Show," which was followed by his prime-time comedy program, "The Steve Allen Show." His proudest TV accomplishment, however, was his award-winning 1970's PBS series "Meeting of the Minds," in which he moderated a panel of actors impersonating historic figures like Galileo and Charles Darwin. In recognition of his many television accomplishments, Allen was later inducted into the Television Academy's Hall of Fame. His accomplishments went well beyond television however. He also starred in several feature films, including the 1956 movie, "The Benny Goodman Story," and acted in numerous Broadway plays and soap operas throughout his nearly 60-year career. In addition, Allen is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most prolific song writer and composer in history, with more than 7,400 titles, including, "The Start of Something Big," "Picnic," and "Impossible." Allen also wrote the score for several Broadway musicals, as well as the stirring drama "Irish Wake," which won an L.A. drama critics' nomination as the best play of 1977. Allen made over 50 albums/CDs, wrote newspaper columns, and stayed active right up until his death in 2000. He is survived by his wife, actress Jane Meadows, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Allen will be warmly remembered, especially by Illinoisans, and we proudly honor him with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2001 Illinois Presidential Inaugural Gala. Accepting the award was his son, Steve Allen, Jr.