Hayworth

Multihyphenate entertainer Steve Allen should earn posthumous praise as a “20th century Renaissance man.”

Allen, who departed ASU (then Arizona State Teachers College) in the early 1940s as a sophomore, never hesitated to teach his audiences as he entertained them, blending the serious and the sophomoric, combining high-brow concepts with low-brow comedy.

A case in point was the premise behind a well-received sketch on his 1967 CBS summer replacement show, “The Steve Allen Comedy Hour.” 

Imagine when the day arrives that all dreaded diseases are conquered through the fundraising effectiveness of that TV institution known as the telethon. What happens to the “telethon industry” — the hosts, producers, directors and studio crews — who have performed so successfully?

The comically contrived future result was the advent of TV fundraising for not-so-serious afflictions, which Allen lampooned with “The Prickly Heat Telethon.”

Fast forward across time and distance — 55 years and 3,000 miles. From the now-demolished Television City in Hollywood to what has long been regarded as “Hollywood for the cosmetically challenged,” Washington, D.C. 

Disease has not been eliminated, of course. Neither have our most vexing public policy problems found permanent political solutions. In fact, those problems have multiplied.

And in those intervening five decades plus five years, the medium of television has changed substantially, both technically and thematically. Viewing options have grown exponentially, far beyond three major commercial networks, to hundreds of channels churning with creativity, controversy and contrived situations classified as “reality programming.”

And the reality is that the familiar telethon — that tried-and-true TV staple of fundraising — remains, just in a greatly expanded format.

Welcome to the Age of the Megathon — a multimedia, multilevel, multiyear event, complete with multiplying costs, reaching far beyond our borders and bank accounts, bringing profound changes to the lives we lead.

In fact, we’ve just experienced “Megathon I,” which a coalition of public health and politically correct types euphemistically, clinically and officially named “COVID-19.”

It came complete with a state sponsor that the politically correct still refuse to acknowledge — a nation now known by the initials PRC, which is more accurately described by the name communist China. And it has been reported that the communist Chinese found cooperation and funding for what many believe to be a bioweapon — from the good ol’ USA.

Megathon I also featured a “leading man,” Dr. Anthony Fauci. Though an “Amen Chorus” on the left continues to sing his praises, Fauci has the distinction of being our nation’s highest-paid bureaucrat. And it isn’t only his hefty paycheck that has cost us.

Fauci-ism has ushered in a festering form of cynicism that has developed into debilitating distrust of the public health establishment, all because the diminutive doctor insists that he is the embodiment of sound science, when, in reality, he is the poster child for a pernicious form of “political science.”

Playing politics with public health shouldn’t surprise us, at least not in retrospect. Looking back, it’s almost as if leftist elites coveted COVID-19 for the dollars it cost, the change it brought and the freedoms it flummoxed.

But another price was paid, regardless of political labels: Lives were lost. Primarily, those fatalities came among senior citizens — the most politically active segment of our society — at least when it comes to voting.

And, of course, voting itself changed, leading to widespread suspicions about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

With the midterm elections ahead in November, prepare yourself for a “Fast and Furious”-Sly Stallone-“Star Wars”-type sequel, which will be just about as entertaining.

Yes… it’s Megathon II, coming this fall!

It’s enough to make baby boomers yearn for the summer of 1967, the enlightened comedy of Steve Allen, and the unpleasant sensation of prickly heat.