The singer-turned-comic who played Marty Allen’s straight man in one of the most popular comedy duos of the 1950s and ’60s died Sunday at a Las Vegas hospice. Steve Rossi was 82. Allen and Rossi formed in 1957 and appeared on hundreds of TV show — including Ed Sullivan dozens of times — and recorded 16 comedy albums during the heyday of recorded comedy. In the vein of Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, Rossi asked questions that were answered by Allen, and the pairing of suave singer and goofy comedian also was akin to Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The Bronx native was working as a crooner in Vegas when Nat King Cole suggested he team with Allen, who had recently split with his comedy partner. By the early ’60s, Allen and Rossi were regulars on TV game and variety show, and they shared the Sullivan stage with the Beatles three times. They starred as American tourists in Paris who stumble into international intrigue the 1966 movie yarn The Last Of The Secret Agents? Allen and Rossi split in 1968, and Rossi linked up for a while with Joe E. Ross, then with Slappy White in one of comedy’s first interracial duos. Allen and Rossi reteamed several times over the decades, and Rossi continued to perform until recently.
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