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Breaking News

Comedian Steve Allen Dead at 80

Aired October 31, 2000 - 2:17 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We're just receiving information now that comedian, songwriter, actor, entrepreneur Steve Allen has died at the age of 80.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Steve Allen's famous theme song, "This Could Be the Start of Something Big," may be the best way to describe his life.

STEVE ALLEN, COMEDIAN: One of the secrets, if that's the right word, of my approach to work is that I don't waste any time. If they invented a nine-day week, I would work nine days a week.

VERCAMMEN: And work he did. As a composer of over 6,000 songs, author of 48 books and Emmy Award-winning host of the PBS television series "Meeting of the Minds."

Steve Allen began his climb to stardom 44 years ago when he walked onto an NBC sound stage and kicked off the first-ever "Tonight Show."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: "Tonight," starring Steve Allen.

ALLEN: Boy, have we been making last minute changes around here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: I didn't even know I was funny until I got out in the world. You know, I thought that's how people should talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: A 1958 ouch (ph) baseball season is getting under way with the annual...

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: Steve Allen made everybody laugh, whether it was as host to the self-titled "Steve Allen Show" or any number of other programs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: You're going to record it tomorrow called "Hound Dog." I got you a very cute little hound dog right here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: Another of Steve Allen's famous collaborations was his nearly half-century marriage to his wife Jayne Meadows. Together, they had one son. Allen had three other children from a previous marriage. Steve Allen himself was the son of Vaudevillians.

ALLEN: After watching myself on old tapes and films, I finally could see my mother. She used here hands the same way I do. And I never knew I did it till I saw her old work and my old work.

VERCAMMEN: Allen's old work also inspired the likes of Johnny Carson and David Letterman. It was Allen who was the first to take the camera out of the studio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: There's that familiar theme song which tells you it's time to meet our man in the street.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And it was Allen who invented the famous "Question Man" skit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: From Brooklyn, we received this answer: the Los Angeles Dodgers. The question: How would you describe pedestrians in Los Angeles?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Fortunately, I sometimes dream jokes. Two of the best melodies I ever wrote were dreamed. Who can take credit for a dream? Nobody.

VERCAMMEN: And Steve Allen's life was a dream come true.

ALLEN: The world has already let me do about 28 times as much as I thought I was going to be able to do at the age of 21, so thanks to the universe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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