Though often less cited in the history of television talk shows than Johnny Carson, his successor to the host chair on "The Tonight Show" (NBC, 1954- ), Jack Paar was perhaps the most influential figure in the development of the medium. From 1952 to 1956, Paar offered a smart, witty and frequently live-wire alternative to the staid promotional parade that comprised talk and variety shows of the period. A relaxed presence at his desk or on his trademark stool, Paar invited audiences to join him in discourse with leading figures from entertainment, society and politics, all of whom treasured his intelligence and, more importantly, willingness to listen rather than orchestrate the conversation. However, Paar suffered mightily for his efforts: a deeply emotional man, he quit "Tonight" in tears over network censorship, which earned him a reputation as overly sensitive, at best - at worst, potentially unstable. After leaving "Tonight" in 1965, he would return to network TV twice more in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but left both with disinterest in pursuing complacent, content-free programming. His contributions to talk shows and the medium as a whole was paid fitting tribute in the years prior to his death in 2004, and his reputation as a non-conformist who made television fit to his vision remained untouched in the years that followed.