On this date in 1921, entertainer, author, songwriter and musician Steve Allen was born into a Catholic family in New York. He dropped out of Arizona State Teachers College during his sophomore year to go into radio, then served during World War II before returning to ad-lib and radio work. Allen became a household name as the original host of the NBC “Tonight Show.” He portrayed Benny Goodman in the movie, “The Benny Goodman Story,” recorded 40 albums as a jazz pianist, composed 7,900 songs, wrote 54 books and created 4 seasons of the memorable PBS series, “Meeting of Minds.” Great minds from the past met on the groundbreaking show, which featured at least its share of freethinkers. Allen was also a lyricist whose songs include “This Could Be the Start of Something Big.” He was married for 46 years to actress Jayne Meadows, his second wife. When a son joined a cult in the 1970s, Allen wrote Beloved Son: A Story of the Jesus Cults (1982). Allen became aware of the distressing nature of the bible while reading Gideon Bibles left in hotel rooms. In Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion & Morality (1990), he mused: “I believe it is the imposition of a dictatorship that increasing numbers on the Christian Right now wish to construct in the United States. . . .. They believe that Christianity should be the official religion of the United States and that American laws should be specifically Christian.” D. 2000.
“It was only when I finally undertook to read the Bible through from beginning to end that I perceived that its depiction of the Lord God–whom I had always viewed as the very embodiment of perfection–was actually that of a monstrous, vengeful tyrant, far exceeding in bloodthirstiness and insane savagery the depredations of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Attila the Hun, or any other mass murderer of ancient or modern history.” —Steve Allen, Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion & Morality, 1990