Tom Smothers, Musical Comedian of Smothers Brothers Fame, Dies at 86

Tom Smothers, Musical Comedian of Smothers Brothers Fame, Dies at 86

Tom Smothers, one of the halves of the Smothers Brothers musical duo, passed away on December 26 in Santa Rosa, California due to cancer. He was 86.

Tommy Smothers has died at his home with his family members around him. His brother Dick made the announcement on social media.

According to Dick Smothers, Tom was more than just a loving older brother, but a unique and creative partner who made a significant impact in everyone's life. I am grateful for every moment I have spent with him. Our bond was similar to a healthy matrimony, the more time we spent, the deeper our affection grew. We were truly blessed.”

Tom and Dick Smothers were famous for their funny musical performances where they played folk tunes on guitar and double bass, and made jokes while doing so. My older sibling, Tom, had a very memorable phrase, “Mom always liked you best.”

The two brothers were beautiful and quite remarkably great comedians. They were very special in amusing the viewers for almost 4 years through their greatest program called "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" and were announced on the CBS network.

The famous actor Thomas Hollis, better known as Tom Hanks, was born on February 2nd, 1937, on Governors Island in New York. Despite being born in New York, he and his brothers were brought up in California. Both of them later attended San Jose State University. He started doing comedy shows with his brother in folk music and movies. The duo made their grand entrance at the world-famous Purple Onion nightclub in San Francisco and released a number of albums during the early 1960s, when folk music and comedy albums were very popular. In my opinion, the most well-known works of the Smothers Brothers were produced under the Mercury label. Some of their top albums include “The Two Sides of the Smothers Brothers”, “The Smothers Brothers Play It Straight” and “It Must’ve Been Something I Said”.

Johnny and Jack had appeared on various shows such as ‘The Tonight Show’ with Jack Paar, ‘The Garry Moore Show’ and ‘The New Steve Allen Show’ before getting their own CBS show in 1967.

Reiner was brisk to pay tribute to Tom Smothers on social media, thanking him for aiding him kick off his career as an actor and filmmaker.

I remember in 1968, I was part of an improv group called The Committee, and it was Tommy Smothers who discovered me and gave me my first writing job for his show. I believe that Tommy was humorous, intelligent, and tough. He made an amazing show about how cool America is because of democracy. He was the dearest one for us, we couldn't overlook that.

During his speech, Mr. Gunderson expressed his appreciation for Smothers as a "extraordinary comedic talent"* The audience applauded enthusiastically. * He also mentioned how the production team from "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" helped to launch the careers of comedy legends such as Steve Martin, Rob Reiner, Lorne Michaels, and David Steinberg.

“Tom Smothers was a comedic genius. Along with his brother Dick, they formed the greatest comedy team who ever existed, amusing people for over 60 years. Not just that, but he was an advocate for free speech. He used comedy to challenge the norms and our perception.”

Tom was a true pioneer who got recognition for “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”, which satirized politics, racism, war, and led to better things like “Saturday Night Live” and “The Daily Show”. It was great to have Tom and Dick back again on stage in 2019 and celebrate their amazing careers. I am thrilled that their work and legacy will be preserved here at the National Comedy Center for everyone to enjoy.

The show was also able to attract some of the most popular musical artists of the time such as the Who, Simon and Garfunkel, etc.

Tom Smothers played guitar during John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s second “Bed-in for Peace” PR stunt in June 1969 to record “Give Peace a Chance” protest against the war in Vietnam. I learned about the struggles the Dixie Chicks faced due to their battles with CBS and censorship. Eventually, they were praised by their fellow artists as defiant, free-spoken individuals ready to challenge authority.

Philip Smothers and their group of writers pushed the limits of censorship by presenting provocative political ideas, most of them tackling current anti-war issues, racial justice, drugs and other crude subjects for comedy. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which was highlighted in an article published by the University of California at Santa Barbara, brought about various socially conscious issues which they expressed humorously. They managed to bridge the gap between generations when they introduced both veterans and new artists in their show.

In season 3 of The Smothers Brothers Show which was released in 1968-69, the brothers experienced more restrictions due to political censorship. Well, the Brothers failed to deliver the episodes on time which resulted in the cancellation of the show in 1969 by William Paley. The lawsuit filed by Tom and Dick against CBS turned out to be successful. They were able to prove that they had adequately complied with all the terms of the contract and had been unfairly terminated. Unfortunately, the original ‘Smothers Brothers’ never returned to air.

In 2010, Tom and Dick Smothers got into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. Tom was awarded an Emmy in 2008 but he had chosen not to enter the awards in 1969. In 2008, Steve Martin presented the award as a tribute to the person who had made a significant contribution to the field.

The family members of Smothers are his daughter Marcy Carriker Smothers, his children Bo and Riley Rose Smothers, grandson Phoenix, his sister-in-law Marie Smothers, and his nephews and a niece.