Childhood & Early Life
Born to Jewish parents Percy Copelon and Rose Sherman in Chicago, on November 30, 1924, Allan Sherman adopted his mother’s maiden name after his parents got divorced. His father was an auto mechanic and a racing driver. Suffering from obesity, father Percy died in a quest to observe a 100-day diet.
With the family shifting homes frequently, Allan had to attend school at myriad locations including cities like Chicago, New York, Miami and Los Angeles.
He then moved to the prestigious ‘University of Illinois’, it was here that Allan discovered his talent and he featured regularly in the humour column of the college newspaper ‘The Daily Illini’.
Allan, a mediocre student, got into trouble for breaking the rules of the sorority house when he tried to bring along his then girlfriend to the place. The University finally expelled him, thus debarring him from graduating.
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Allan embarked on his career as a musical humourist in 1951, with the parody ‘A Satchel and a Seck’, disparaging the popular song of the fifties ‘A Bushel and a Peck’. This duet which also featured the artist Sylvia Froos, was recorded by the label ‘Jubilee Records’.
Based on the Bing and Gary Crosby hit number ‘Sam’s Song’, Allan recorded another satire titled ‘Jake’s Song’ for ‘Jubilee Records’. Both the songs failed to take off well and Allan soon ran out of work. He then moved on to produce game shows.
Allan was offered the production rights of the game show ‘I've Got a Secret’ by television producers Mark Goodson and Bill Todman. The game, based on Allan’s concept, was first aired on ‘CBS Network’ in 1952.
A debacle occurred on the show, after Allan insisted that the celebrity guest on the show, Tony Curtis, was asked to demonstrate the rules of some games he played as a child. As it turned out Curtis was not familiar with any of the games, the show suffered a huge setback. Allan was then removed as the producer of the show in 1958.
‘Your Surprise Package’ was another game show which Allan produced in the year 1961, for the banner ‘AI Singer Productions’. This daytime game show was hosted by then famous actor and comedian George Fenneman, and was aired on ‘CBS Network’.
Allan’s association with the label ‘Warner Bros. Records’ happened when famous comedian George Burns came across his performance at comedian Harpo Marx’s party, who was Allan’s neighbour. ‘My Son, the Folk Singer’, released in 1962, was his first release under the banner. This collection of parody caught the attention of radio, despite concerns over Allan’s image as a performer.
Following the huge success of ‘My Son, The Folk Singer’, a lot of other artists came up with similar efforts. But none were able to match Allan’s popularity and he remained the undisputed favourite.
The label ’Jubilee records’ released an album titled ‘More Folk Songs by Allan Sherman and His Friends’ in 1962, which featured his single ‘A Satchel and a Seck’ along with works of artistes likes Sylvia Froos, Fyvush Finkel and Lee Tully.
Allan came out with another collection titled ‘My Son, the Celebrity’ in the beginning of 1963, which was an even bigger success. The album also notched the number one spot on the ‘Billboard’s Top 150 Best Selling LPs’ Chart.
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In 1963, ‘My Son, the Nut’ became the third straight album to top the billboards. The song ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh’ from this collection was a chartbuster and was ranked among the top five novelty songs. The album maintained its top position on music charts for eight consecutive weeks.
His next album, ‘Allan in Wonderland’, released in 1964, came only months after the death of the American president John F. Kennedy. The album failed to reiterate the success story of its predecessors, as the entire nation was mourning the death of the political leader. The album suffered harsh criticism and struggled to secure a spot within the Top 25 on pop charts.
His second album of 1964, recorded in association with conductor Arthur Fiedler and the orchestra troupe ‘Boston Pops’, featured the parodies ‘For Swingin' Livers Only!’ and ‘Peter & the Commissar’. This album fared even poorly as compared to his previous work, and could not even reach the Top 40.
Adding to Allan’s woes, the 1964 parody on ‘My Fair Lady’ remained unreleased after facing heat for copyright issues from its original makers.
Over the course of two years from 1965-1966, he recorded two albums titled ‘My name is Allan’ and ‘Togetherness’. Following the mediocre response drawn by the albums, the label ‘Warner Bros. Records’ called off their contract with Sherman. The comedian also published his autobiography titled ‘A Gift of Laughter’, during this period.
In 1973, Allan published another book titled ‘Rape of the APE’. It was a satirical take on the evolution of sexual revolution in the US.
Personal Life & Legacy
Allan was married to Dee Chackes and the couple had two children. Their son Robert Sherman, born on 9th January, 1950, is a producer of TV series like ‘Tattletales’ and ‘Super Password’.
Dee received the full custody of their children following their divorce in 1966.
Suffering from obesity and diabetes, Allan went to the ‘Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital’ to recuperate. However, his lung ailment added to the complications, and he died ten days before his 49th birthday in his West Hollywood home. He was buried in ‘Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery’ in Culver City, California.