Tom Smothers, the legendary comedian from the popular comedy show “The Smothers Brothers,” passed away at the age of 86 on December 26, as confirmed by the family.
Born in 1937 at the Fort Jay army post on Governors Island, New York City, Tom, and his siblings faced the loss of their father, who died in a Japanese prison as a war prisoner. After this tragic event, their family shifted to California, where both Tom and Dick graduated from Redondo Union High School.
Tom Smothers was not just a comedian; his talents extended beyond comedy. The multitalented Tom participated in unicycling and was awarded as a state champion gymnast in the parallel bars.
After college, the Smothers brothers tried to pursue careers in the music industry, but they did not flourish in that field. Later, they turned to comedy, gaining recognition in 1961 after appearing on The Steve Allen Show and later on Burke’s Law.
Due to their recognition, CBS started their show, “The Smothers Brothers Show,” their own production. Learning from their experiences and positive audience feedback, they aimed to express more in their next show called “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” which began in 1967. Their new show was even more successful than the previous one, thanks to their political and social satire comedy.
However, popularity often comes with controversies. The Smothers Brothers’ comedy wasn’t universally loved but also criticized by many conservative people. This led to a significant conflict between “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” and another popular show, “Bonanza.” The clash resulted in cultural disputes and confusion with CBS about what they should or should not perform. The clash caused show repetitions and eventual cancellation. In response, The Smothers Brothers took legal action against CBS for breaking their contract, and the lawsuit was settled in their favor, awarding them $776,300 as compensation.
Tom Smothers’ death marks the end of a successful era, leaving behind a legacy of political and societal satire comedy and music.