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1967: The Start of 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour'
February 5, 2019  | By David Bianculli
 
On this day in 1967, CBS presented a midseason replacement that turned out to be one of the most ambitious and controversial variety shows in TV history: The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

Tom and Dick Smothers, who had toured nightclubs and coffeehouses doing their comic versions of folk songs, began on this night with a fairly typical variety hour. Guests for their premiere show included Jill St. John and Jim Nabors, and a special introduction by Ed Sullivan.

Before long, though, the Smothers Brothers would inject their shows with more topical humor, musical acts, and political observations, leading to a change in the way entertainment shows were written – but at quite a personal cost. In 1969, CBS claimed the brothers had violated the terms of their contract (the courts eventually ruled otherwise), fired the Smothers Brothers, and took their show off the air.

“During its three-year reign, however, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was about as topical, influential, and important as a TV show could get,” I wrote in my 2009 book Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of ‘The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.’  The full story is now in paperback. 

 
 
 
 
 
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