What does the name "Irwin Allen" conjure up in your mind? Much will depend on when you were born, where you lived, whether you had access to television or went to the cinema, what influences were around you in your youth, what your friends talked about, the toys you saw in stores, and how much you enjoyed a good wholesome adventure yarn. For younger generations, your influences more likely revolve around family members who themselves grew up under the Irwin Allen universe.
Irwin Allen is formally credited as being a producer, director, radio and television host, and writer, but he was in fact, much, much more than this. Words that might describe him include award winning, businessman, deal maker, salesman (he was often described as being able to sell ice to eskimos), innovator, creator, showman (the Barnum of his generation), facilitator, negotiator etc. Whatever words are used, the end result was a vast range of television shows and movies that are remembered with fondness, affection, and which have loyal followings that have stood the test of time.
Irwin Allen had an eye for the kind of entertainment the family market would enjoy. For instance, Irwin had a fascination with the circus, making The Big Circus in 1959, and later in the 1970's proposing another movie project tentatively called "Circus, Circus, Circus!" His career successes coincided with the post-war boom, the Cold War, the colourful swinging sixties and the space race to the Moon, and he capitalized on the mood of the time.
On the subject of circus acts, Irwin Allen could be described metaphorically as being a juggler himself. Whereas other producers might have been more than content with one successful television show on the airwaves, during the sixties Irwin Allen was juggling three prime time shows whilst forging ahead with other prospective projects. To achieve this feat he depended upon a very skilled, excitingly innovative, and capable production team with many award winning and nominated crew members. Many of these crew members had had a long and successful careers at Twentieth Century Fox before joining the "Irwin Allen Bandwagon."
Whilst the majority of visitors to this site may be here because of an affection for his 1960's science fiction shows and 1970's disaster movies, Irwin Allen in fact had had a substantial career much earlier, making his name as a Hollywood columnist, radio show host and in the late 1940's, creating the first celebrity quiz show called "Hollywood Merry-Go-Round." He learned the business and networked with the stars, writers, producers during the heyday of Hollywood. His career as a movie producer began when he was brought in as a co-producer with Irving Cummings Jr. for Double Dynamite in 1948 and just 4 years later earned one of the highest accolades possible, the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for The Sea Around Us.
Not all of Irwin Allen's productions were universally or critically acclaimed, and yet they have largely developed lives of their own over the decades, each with their individual worldwide followings. Perhaps Irwin Allen's work inspires the independent thinking or rebellious side in a lot of us where we watch and enjoy these movies and shows for what they are, fun entertainment, rather than critiquing them to the point of extinction. The escapism these productions provide makes us forgiving of the flaws or scientific anomalies in each, and yes, fun can be had questioning these inaccuracies, but in the fullness of time, what we have is happy memories of his achievements. Is anyone really going to dislike a show such as Doctor Who because the TARDIS breaks all rules of dimensional space by being vastly bigger on the inside than when viewed from the outside? No, because the premise of show is making the unbelievable believable for around an hour a week when we all want to relax our brains from the stresses and strains of the "real world". That's what Irwin Allen tapped into with his sci-fi shows. And similarly with the disaster genre - he made fear and disaster an adventure to be conquered.
Given his extensive record in the movie and television industry, it may come as some surprise that he never had a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As the man who created some of the most popular shows and movies for a generation of fans, he deserves to be remembered for what he brought to the field of entertainment between the 1940's and 1980's.
The Irwin Allen News Network (IANN) and this website were established to make sure Irwin Allen's work is documented and permanently recorded for the future and to recognize the contributions of all the people who played their part in sealing the name "Irwin Allen" in cinematic and television history.
By clicking on the links around this site you can explore the work of this amazing gentleman and his brilliant teams of actors, directors, writers and production crews.
To find out more about the man behind all of the Irwin himself, please click on the image links below: