Allan Sherman (November 30, 1924 - November 20, 1973) was a song parodist from the early 1960s who had a multifaceted career in show business as a singer, actor, comedy writer, and TV producer. He is most famous for the endearingly funny "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter From Camp)" in which a boy describes his ordeals at Camp Granada in a letter to his parents sung in a plaintive manner to the tune of Ponchielli's "Dance Of The Hours."
Born Allan Copelon in Chicago, his parent divorced when he was a child and he adopted his mother's maiden surname. He began his career in comedy while attending the University of Illinois where he wrote a humor column for the college newspaper. During the 1950s, he worked as a TV producer at CBS and was one of the creators of the station's long-running game show, "I've Got A Secret." He also regularly entertained his friends and family with his song parodies and recorded his first single in 1951 with singer Sylvia Froos ("A Satchel And A Seck" b/w "Jake's Song"). His many fans and admirers included friend and neighbor, Harpo Marx, who threw Sherman a party to introduce him to Jack Benny, George Burns, Milton Berle, and other top comedians, which led to a contract with Warner Brothers. Sherman's career as a singer and songwriter took off in 1962 when he released his first album, "My Son, The Folk Singer," which topped the Billboard 200 and soon after went Gold. This smash, which includes such popular numbers as "Sarah Jackman" (sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques") and "My Zelda" (sung to Matilda"), was followed by two other Billboard 200 chart toppers, "My Son, The Celebrity" (1963), and "My Son, The Nut" (1963), the latter of which includes his signature song, "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter From Camp)."
Allan Sherman made his debut on the Pop/Rock charts in 1963 with "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter From Camp)," which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy for Best Comedy Performance. This song was inspired by actual letters from his son, Richard, who was attending Camp Champlain in Westport, NY. Sherman wrote a new version in 1964 for a performance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, which also became a chart hit. He had a Top 40 hit in 1965 with "Crazy Downtown," a parody of Petula Clark's "Downtown." He also had minor hits with "The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas" (1963), "I Can't Dance" (1964), "The End Of A Symphony (Part 1)" (1964), and "The Drinking Man's Diet" (1965).
At the height of his commercial success, Allan Sherman made numerous TV appearances, and his legion of fans famously included President John F. Kennedy. He continued releasing musical comedy albums through 1967 and also appeared in several movies and TV show episodes through the early 1970s. He published an autobiography in 1965, "A Gift Of Laughter," and in 2013, Mark Cohen chronicled his life and career in "Overweight Sensation: The Life And Comedy Of Allan Sherman."
- The New York Times remembers Allan Sherman.
- Mark Cohen, the author of "Overweight Sensation: The Life And Comedy Of Allan Sherman," discusses the famed song parodist's influence on future generations of Jewish comedians in an interview by NPR (June 3, 2013).
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- Crazy Downtown 1965
(This song is a parody of "Downtown" by Petula Clark. Mrs. Miller also unleashed a parody of "Downtown" in 1966.)
- Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter From Camp) 1963
(This song was later remade by Allan Sherman and this newer version also became a hit (1964).)
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