Tom Smothers dies at 86

Tom Smothers, one-half of the comedy duo Smothers Brothers, has died “following a recent battle with cancer.” He was 86. In a statement via the National Comedy Center, the comedian’s brother and “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” co-host, Dick Smothers remembered Tom Smothers as “a one-of-a-kind creative partner.”

“I am forever grateful to have spent a lifetime together with him, on and off stage, for over 60 years. Our relationship was like a good marriage – the longer we were together, the more we loved and respected one another,” Dick Smothers concluded. “We were truly blessed.”

Together, Tom and Dick Smothers helmed the highly controversial comedy hour on CBS from 1967 to 1969. The hot takes on American life paved the way for sketch shows like “Saturday Night Live” and cultural commentary in modern late night television such as “The Daily Show” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”

“Tom Smothers was not only an extraordinary comedic talent, who, together with his brother Dick, became the most enduring comedy duo in history, entertaining the world for over six decades – but was a true champion for freedom of speech, harnessing the power of comedy to push boundaries and our political consciousness,” Journey Gunderson, National Comedy Center Executive Director, said in a statement. “Tom was a true pioneer who changed the face of television and transformed our culture.”

Viewer complaints grew as Smothers’ ratings did, and conflicts with the network became routine as CBS, perhaps influenced by chief Frank Stanton’s relationship with President Lyndon Johnson, tried to reign in the stars. (One issue: Calling the Vietnam War a folly as the sons and daughters of viewers were dying there.) But given creative control of their series early on, the brothers dug in their heels.

As David Letterman would do decades later, they frequently targeted network bosses in their monologues: After a sketch about TV censors was deemed unacceptable by CBS’s own censors, Tom Smothers poked fun at the action during a subsequent episode and then showed close-ups of the offending script’s pages to the audience.

Eventually, CBS demanded delivery of shows well in advance for review. The Smothers cried foul. (By the third season, advance screeners were offered as appeasement to local stations, too, since some were refusing to air the show.) War was declared. The press, often tipped by Tom, ate it up. By the spring of 1969, in the wake of one showdown too many, CBS finally pulled the plug, citing a technicality (failure to deliver episodes).

A breach-of-contract suit against the network followed. It was a battle the brothers eventually won more than four years later, after CBS had much earlier won the war. “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” was ancient history, but it also made history.

The brothers were voted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2008. Tom Smothers is survived by his children Bo and Riley Rose Smothers as well as his grandchildren.

In other news – Raven’s Home stars Anneliese van der Pol and Johnno Wilson get engaged

Anneliese van der Pol and Johnno Wilson are engaged, four years after the Disney Channel original series Raven’s Home introduced them. In a joint post over the weekend, the actor and actress shared the exciting news by posting a series of photos from the proposal, which took van der Pol completely by surprise, judging by the look on her face.

In the pictures, the shocked actress kneels on the floor with her mouth agape as Wilson holds up a ring box while down on one knee. The other photos in the carousel show the pair embracing after the engagement, van der Pol checking out her stunning new ring and the rock on her finger in front of a glass of champagne. This post has been made private or deleted by the post’s owner. Read More

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