Smothers Brothers

Smothers Brothers, American comedians, musicians, and TV hosts. Tom (b. February 2, 1937,as Thomas Smothers) and Dick (b. November 20, 1939, as Richard Smothers) Smothers were born on Governors Island in New York. Their father died in World War II, and their mother relocated the family to the Los Angeles, Ca., area. They made their debut as a comic duo performing satires of traditional folk songs at San Francisco’s Purple Onion nightclub in early 1959, and were soon signed to Mercury Records. After appearing in a failed situation comedy (1965-66), they premiered a comedy-variety program, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, in 1967. The show was controversial for its pointed satire of contemporary politics, its antiwar sentiments, and its booking of contemporary music acts, including a memorable appearance by The Who when Keith Moon set off explosives under his drum kit. The show also employed several writer/comedians early in their careers, notably Steve Martin, Mason Williams, and Rob Reiner. Their show was cancelled after the brothers refused to allow its broadcaster, CBS, to have its censors approve advance versions of each episode. They never equalled the impact and success of this show, although they continued to perform until their retirement in 2010, the same year that they were inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

See study by D. Bianculli (2009).

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