Allen, Fred (b. John F. Sullivan)(1894–1956) comedian; born in Cambridge, Mass. Starting as a juggler as a youth, he switched to comedy when he found he was getting more laughs for his quips than applause for his skill. He appeared in vaudeville and Broadway shows in the 1920s and moved into radio in the 1930s. As host of Town Hall Tonight (1934–40) and then CBS's Texaco Star Theatre (1940–49), he wrote much of his material and was one of the first American comedians to employ situations and a cast of characters that satirized topical events. He converted somewhat reluctantly to television, starring in The Colgate Comedy Hour (1953–54) and Fred Allen's Sketchbook (1954). The nature of his characteristically wry, ironic, even occasionally mordant humor was expressed in the title of his autobiography, Treadmill to Oblivion (1954).