Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dayton Allen -- "Whyyyyy not?"

Dayton Allen was a comedian and voice actor who started his career in radio and then continued into tv , providing voices for many favorite cartoon characters over the years.

Mr. Allen grew up in my hometown, Mount Vernon, NY, and continued living locally in this county for many years during his career. He did voices for many cartoon characters created by the Terrytoons Studio in nearby New Rochelle - some of those characters were 'Deputy Dawg' and 'Heckle and Jeckle'. He also did voices on the "Howdy Doody Show" for a couple of the marionette characters ('Phineas T. Bluster' and 'Flub-a-Dub') for a while.

His catchphrase of "Whyyyy not?" came about when he joined the cast of Steve Allen's tv show in the 1950s. He'd play a person being interviewed, and when asked a question for which he had no ready answer, he'd reply with a drawn-out "whyyyy not?". It has to be seen and heard to be appreciated.

In 1981, I called Mr. Dayton to ask a few questions about his days at the Terrytoon Studios. He was listed in the local phone directory under his business name, either a real estate or insurance company, I just don't remember exactly. He happened to be in the office at the time I called, and he was very entertaining. He asked where I was born, and I said "Mount Vernon". His reply: "Don't worry, you'll get over it". The conversation continued mostly one-sided, almost like I was listening to a stand-up comic doing his routine. There was laughter in the background, as his employees were enjoying his banter as much as I did.

I told him I'd like an autographed photo, and he wrote down my address, and a few days later, received this photo in the mail. The inscription reads:
"To Bill, my 4th [crossed out] 3rd [written above 4th] best Pal. Isn't it swell that just a photo of a person can tell you if someone is in 'the picture'.
Dayton Allen -- Whyyy Not?"

For a personal reminiscence by his nephew, read here.

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