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Forgotten Laughter

May 2024
1min read


Reading Neil A. Grauer’s entertaining Fred Alien piece in the February 1988 issue, I was reminded of an evening years ago at Toots Shor’s fabulous saloon in New York.

Fred was among half a dozen regulars at the bar whom Toots, of hallowed memory, invited upstairs to his quarters to watch what I believe was an early edition of the TV program then known as “The Toast of the Town.” It had as its host Ed Sullivan, the columnist and the butt later of so many imitators of his stiff, awkward introductions of guests.

Allen, like many radio personalities of that time, was an avowed disparager of the upstart new medium called television and needed no excuse to wax vitriolic, given the opportunity. He watched the opening for just a short while, leaving only after pronouncing in his usual acerbic delivery a critique I’ll remember always.

“That man,” he said of Sullivan, “has the personality of a cobblestone.”

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