Monday, June 23, 2014
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Steve Rossi, one half of the prolific comedy duo Allen & Rossi, which became a favorite of "The Ed Sullivan Show" and other TV variety shows, died Sunday at age 82.
His friend of 40 years, Michael Flores told The Associated Press on Sunday that he visited the pal who introduced him to the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in hospice care in Las Vegas on Friday, and he was weak from cancer of the esophagus that had spread but wasn't in any pain.
"I met every major entertainer in the country through Stevie, and I'm going to miss him," said Flores, who was manager of the Silver Nugget casino when Rossi was producing burlesque shows at another property, meeting through a hotel owner.
The Las Vegas Sun originally reported Rossi's death Sunday.
The duo appeared regularly on "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson" and "The Merv Griffin Show." They also toured comedy clubs nationwide and headlined shows at major Las Vegas casinos in the 1960s until they split up in 1968, the newspaper reported.
They also famously appeared on Ed Sullivan's show multiple times with The Beatles.
"Everyone remembers those shows with The Beatles, and they were great, but we appeared on all the shows," Marty Allen told the Sun. "There wasn't a talk show on TV that didn't want Allen & Rossi."
Friends like Rich Little and Wayne Newton told the Sun of good times they had with the comedy legend.
"He was a great man and a great friend," Newton told the newspaper.
Little, a fellow funnyman, said Rossi "understood comedy, and we dreamed up jokes together."
Flores told the AP that he and Rossi traveled together, played golf and tennis, and often watched fights on TV at Flores' home in the Las Vegas Country Club, where Rossi even lived briefly in the mid-1970s.
Rossi was a casino entertainment director living in a hotel suite, but didn't know anyone. He asked to come over and watch TV one day and ended up staying about 3 ½ years, Flores said, laughing.
"He had a fabulous life," Flores said. "He was America's guest."
Rossi graduated from Loyola Marymount University, had a great sense of humor, was very creative and wrote music, including his hit "More."
Flores added that Rossi was religious and thought the comedian had made peace with his illness.
Rossi is survived by his wife, Karma, two children and two grandchildren.