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Las Vegas entertainment icon Steve Rossi died Sunday afternoon at the age of 82. The Ed Sullivan Show favorite was one half of the comedy duo Allen & Rossi.
Rossi’s death was first reported by the Las Vegas Sun. He died at around 2 p.m. at a Las Vegas hospice, following a battle with cancer in his lungs, liver, and esophagus. Karma, his wife of 11 years, was by his side, along with friends and family. A memorial service is set for Friday.
“I met every major entertainer in the country through Stevie, and I'm going to miss him,” Michael Flores, a friend of Rossi’s, told the Associated Press.
Rossi and Marty Allen were one of the best known entertainers in the country throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and The Merv Griffin Show for years. They also appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, on the episodes with The Beatles.
While Rossi loved sharing stories about his legendary career, he got a kick out of talking about the Beatles.
“I spoke to John [Lennon] and to Paul [McCartney], and they had a terrific sense of humor,” Rossi once recalled. “They knew who we were. It was, ‘Mr. Rossi, what a pleasure to meet you.’ I said, ‘We really are the stars of this show, whether you want to believe it or not. That’s why 76 million people are tuning in!’ They laughed. We only had about 9 million on our other appearances.”
Allen told the Sun that it wasn’t a matter of luck that they got on Ed Sullivan when the Beatles were there. They were, at that time, one of the hottest acts in the U.S. Although the duo split in 1968, the two continued seeing each other and Allen visited Rossi in the hospice earlier this month.
“What can I say? I am totally at a loss for what has happened,” Allen told the Sun. “We had a lot of great years together. He was a wonderful straight man, he was a wonderful talent and a wonderful man.”
Rossi is survived by his wife, two children, and two grandchildren.