Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman
Join us as we celebrate a Jewish entertainment icon through words and previously unreleased songs. With exclusive access to Alan Sherman’s estate, Mark Cohen has written the first biography of the manic and creative artist who sold 3 million albums in just 12 months, yet died in obscurity a decade later at only 49.
Allan Sherman was the obese son of an obese race car driver who died while on a 100-day diet. He was expelled from college after breaking into a sorority house at the University of Illinois. He went on to create and produce a game show called “I Know a Secret,” where he liked nothing more than surprising guests, once releasing 100 rabbits on stage and inviting boys in the audience to come help themselves to a pet. He also asked Tony Curtis to demonstrate childhood games – which, it turned out, he had never played.
Sherman’s biggest claim to fame, though, came after he released a record of song parodies in 1951. The record bombed, but Harpo Marx loved it. So he asked Sherman to sing some of the numbers at a party where George Burns was a guest. Burns was so impressed he got Sherman a record contract at Warner Brothers. Soon, everyone was in love with Sherman’s very Jewish novelty songs (remember “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!”?); even President John Kennedy was caught singing one of Sherman’s tunes in a hotel lobby.
Overweight Sensation is the story of a very funny man and the way his very Jewish humor profoundly shaped American comedy.
“[Sherman] did as much as anyone to bring Jews out of the
closet. One can hope that, thanks to Cohen, his legacy is
Co-sponsored by B’nai B’rith International, Great Lakes Region, Center Travel