The show originated as a local New York City late night program in June 1953 and went onto the network in September 1954. Throughout the summer of 1956, Steve Allen was the only host. When ...
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After Johnny Carson's retirement from the show, Jay Leno stepped in as his permanent replacement. The format of the show has remained largely unchanged, consisting primarily of an opening ... See full summary »
David Letterman hosted this popular late-night comedy/talk-show. Often, Dave would go on location or to the phone lines to play pranks. Some famous features of the show include the "Top Ten... See full summary »
The show originated as a local New York City late night program in June 1953 and went onto the network in September 1954. Throughout the summer of 1956, Steve Allen was the only host. When Allen's prime-time series debuted in the summer of 1956, he limited his appearances on this show to Wednesday through Friday and a series of guest hosts filled in until 1 October 1956 when Ernie Kovacs took over as permanent host for the Monday and Tuesday broadcast. Kovacs had his own set of entertainers, i.e., Wendell, Hanley, Arthur and Loden. The last show was broadcast on 25 January 1957."Tonight's" first monologue was given with Steve Allen seated at the piano: "In case you're just joining us...this is Tonight...and I can't think of too much to tell you about it, except I want to give you the bad news first: this program is going to go on forever. I wouldn't call it a Spectacular....you might say it's more a Monotonious ." Written by
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Once the show's producer, Jules L. Green, successfully made a deal that paid all guests, no matter how big, the union scale (then $265.50 per appearance), the show quickly established the highly efficient economics of late-night talk. The star could command a massive salary, Allen got up to about $3,500 a week during his tenure, but the other costs were modest and fixed. The total budget was $11,000 a week. With the amount of commercial time in a 90-minute, five-night-a-week show so abundant, "Tonight!" instantly set itself up as the champion cash cow in the network pasture. See more »
The Birth of Late Night TV, and the start of a Dynasty
When the world was filled with Wrestling or early Evenings after the news, Steve Allen gathered a bunch of comics (most of whom went on to great careers in their own right) and created the original Tonight Show. It was talk, it was skits. It was fun, and it was Steve Allen.
I have only had a chance to catch clips of the show in reruns a few years ago, and the brilliance of the show shines through. While he would be eclipsed in years to come by Carson, Allen put together a solid show with no real weaknesses other than the fact that he found himself funny too often, and couldn't keep a straight face. (Yes, carson did that too, but he usually didn't fall down laughing) And unlike Carson, he depended a lot more on his supporting actors in the skits (both a + and a - for him).
If you can ever catch "The Steve Allen Show" as it's sometimes labeled in repackaging ever, please do. you will thank yourself that you did.
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