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July 28, 2014

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Who is this ‘Daddy Gaga?’ Find out at Palace Station

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Marty Allen in the none-too-subtle role as “Daddy Gaga.”

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Marty Allen and Karon Kate Blackwell.

A quick yarn about Marty Allen: Several years ago, I was working out on an elliptical machine at Las Vegas Athletic Club on West Sahara and Decatur. As I stepped off the machine, the man to my left was familiar to me, as he looked unlike any other person in the club -- or on the planet, for that matter.

A troll doll come to life. Wreathed in sweat. It took a moment, but it came to me: He was legendary comic Marty Allen! I introduced myself, and he panted that he works out regularly at LVAC.

As I walked off, a friend of mine rushed over and said, “I know he is someone. Who is he?”

“I’ll give you a hint,” I said. “ ‘Hollywood Squares.’ ”

I am not sure if my buddy ever sorted out the identity of that distinctive figure, but Allen still works out at LVAC, an exercise regimen that keeps him youthful enough to headline in Vegas, at age 89, with his vocalist/comic wife, Karon Kate Blackwell. The couple spends four months a year on the road, or rather water, performing for audiences on Royal Caribbean cruise lines and average six months a year, total on tour.

From Tuesday through Saturday, the duo take over Louie Anderson Theater at Palace Station. Tickets are $57 -- click here for information or call 739-3267.

The couple’s brief run is sure to be laden with shtick, nostalgia and even a new character Allen is uncorking named “Daddy Gaga.” This is Allen performing as the father of Lady Gaga, wearing a multicolored wig and a gold jacket adorned with rubber steaks and hot dogs. A takeoff on Gaga’s meat dress from the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards.

Some highlights from a phone interview with Allen last week:

• He was a veritable prince of daytime television a generation ago, making frequent appearances on “The Mike Douglas Show” and any game show that needed someone funny as a celebrity guest. “I appeared on all the game shows, hundreds of them, ‘Password,’ ‘Beat the Clock,’ ‘Hollywood Squares,’ ” he recalled. “I loved ‘Hollywood Squares,’ with Rose Marie, Charlie Weaver, Paul Lynde. They let us ad lib our own answers and it was an honestly very funny show. A classic.”

• He was once recruited for “Circus of the Stars,” where he took to the floor as an elephant (trained) laid across his chest. “I was the guy they called any time they needed someone to do physical comedy,” he said. “When they brought this elephant out, I said, ‘If he finds out I’m a Democrat, I’m dead!’ ”

• On the parting of one of the more famous comedy teams of the 1960s, Allen & Rossi, he said, “There was no single big reason for it, but how many times can you play the same role? I started acting, was on ‘Big Valley’ with Barbara Stanwyck and started getting offers outside of the act. Steve and I are still friendly, and I’ve had three wonderful careers, with Steve, on my own and now with Karon.”

• Allen & Rossi were featured on the second performance by The Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” broadcast from Miami. “There were all these police officers backstage, and I grabbed one of their caps and started following Ringo around, everywhere. I followed him into the bathroom, and he’s saying, ‘Are you sure you’re supposed to be following me?’ I introduced myself to the audience, saying, ‘I’m Ringo Starr’s mother!’ The kids all screamed. They didn’t know the difference. It was a really terrific experience.”

• On what he and his wife have planned for Palace Station: “It’ll be a clean show, and Karon can sing anything and is one of the funniest women around. We’re like Burns and Allen, but I’m Gracie.”

• On how much longer he plans to perform: “I plan to live to be 100, so I’ll do this until then.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow "Kats With the Dish" at twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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