Comedian Fred Allen was born 125 years ago today, on 31-May-1894. I used to listen to Gene Nelson's old time radio show on KSFO every night. He would play Fred Allen now and then. I read about Fred Allen in Jim Harmon's The Great Radio Comedians and sought a copy of Allen's memoir, Treadmill to Oblivion. I found it at the Richmond Branch library, and took it out several times. I later found Much Ado About Me and Fred Allen's Letters and read each of them several times. I think he influenced my sense of humor and delivery.
The few people who remember him today probably remember him for Allen's Alley and his long-time feud with Jack Benny. The feud was staged, but it was often very funny.
His best performance in a movie was as one of the criminals in "The Ransom of Red Chief," part of the anthology movie O Henry's Full House. Oscar Levant, another favorite of mine, was his partner.