Chet R. Allen (May 6, 1939 – June 17, 1984) was an American child actor of the 1950s known for his role as Amahl in Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, the first opera written for television, which he made with the NBC Opera Theatre.
Allen was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, and later moved to Columbus, Ohio. At the time he was selected as Amahl, Allen was a soprano member of Columbus Boychoir, founded in Columbus, Ohio. The music boarding school relocated in 1950 to Princeton, New Jersey, and in 1980 was renamed the American Boychoir School. Allen also reprised his role as Amahl in theatre in April 1952 with the New York City Opera, conducted by young Thomas Schippers.
In 1953, Allen starred with Dan Dailey in the film Meet Me at the Fair in the role of 14-year-old Tad Bayliss. That same year, he played the young teenager Jerry Bonino in the short-lived NBC series Bonino, a mostly forgotten situation comedy starring Ezio Pinza as a recently widowed Italian-American opera singer, Babbo Bonino, undertaking the rearing of his eight children. Mary Wickes costarred as Martha the housekeeper.
One of Allen’s young Bonino costars was Van Dyke Parks, a future composer and musician with whom he had roomed at Columbus Boyschoir.
Allen failed to make the transition into adult acting and was frequently admitted to psychiatric hospitals because of recurring depression. He procured his Social Security number in New Jersey, presumably when he joined the Columbus Boychoir.
In 1984, at the age of forty-five, Allen committed suicide by taking five times the fatal dosage of a prescription anti-depressant.