BOWLING GREEN - Entertainer/composer Steve Allen made several appearances in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan in the last quarter-century.
But through donations of manuscripts, memorabilia, and recordings to Bowling Green State University, beginning in 1974, his legacy will last long after memories of his concerts fade.
“He had that bent of preserving things, and he saw Bowling Green taking that role for his material because of our stature in popular culture” studies, professor Bill Schurk, sound recordings archivist at the university, said yesterday.
Mr. Allen received an honorary doctor of humanities degree in 1991 from BGSU and, during a visit to the university, he met with jazz students, took part in a children's literature read-a-thon, and toured the popular culture library.
He donated the first items to what has become the “Steve Allen Collection” of the popular culture library in answer to a letter from Dr. Ray Browne, founder of the popular culture department.
“[Mr. Allen] was enthusiastic about what we were doing here, taking the serious side in promoting the study of popular culture,” Dr. Browne said last night.
Mr. Allen's donations have included drafts of manuscripts, published articles, signed books, photographs, paintings, and awards.
“I look upon [his donations] as dear, treasured, and priceless,” Dr. Browne said. “He was kind enough and generous enough to give of himself and his holdings.”
The comedian once wrote an article about Elvis Presley - who made an early television appearance on Mr. Allen's program - for the Journal of Popular Culture. Some were struck by the article's conservative tone, Dr. Browne recalled, “but the fact that this busy man would take time to publish in a journal that would be read by at most 10,000 indicated a certain seriousness in his approach.”
Because of his connection with the recording industry, Mr. Allen donated many recordings to the university and did research for the archives, Mr. Schurk said.
“We got to know each other well,” he said.
Mr. Allen and his wife, Jayne Meadows, received honorary doctor of humane letters degrees in 1979 from Siena Heights College in Adrian, in recognition of their Meeting of the Minds public television series.
He appeared in concert with the Toledo Symphony 10 years later, cracking a few jokes, playing a piano solo, and playing with the orchestra.
He performed in Willard, O., at a Mercy Hospital Foundation fund-raiser in 1997 and at Ohio Northern University in Ada in 1998. He appeared in the Stranahan Theater at the Masonic Complex in Toledo in 1995, entertaining with music and comedy, and participating in a question-and-answer session.