Tom Smothers

Comedian, Actor, Composer
Although best known as his on-stage persona of "Tommy," the gentle but easily irked half of the folk singing duo The Smothers Brothers, actor, writer and musician Tom Smothers was also one of the most socially conscious ... Read more »
Born: 02/02/1937 in New York City, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (74)

Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley 2012 (Movie)

Interviewee (Actor)

Sing Your Song 2010 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Informant! 2009 (Movie)

Dwayne Andreas (Actor)

Pioneers of Television 2008 (Tv Show)

Actor

Pete Seeger: The Power of Song 2007 (Movie)

(Actor)

The U.S. vs. John Lennon 2006 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Aristocrats 2005 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Uncensored Comedy: That's Not Funny 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)

Actor

Glen Campbell: Still on the Line 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

Norm 1955 - 1962, 2000 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

Suddenly Susan 1955 - 1962, 1997 - 1998, 2000 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

Penn & Teller's Sin City Spectacular 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

A Really Big Show: Ed Sullivan's 50th 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Abbott and Costello Meet Biography 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

The Second Annual Comedy Hall of Fame 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Alan King: Inside the Comedy Mind 1990 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

In Censors We Trust 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Jack Benny: Comedy in Bloom 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Narrator

More of the Best of the Hollywood Palace 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

The 7th Annual American Comedy Awards 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

This Was America... 1968 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Spy Magazine Presents How to Be Famous 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Kenny Rogers Classic Weekend 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Speed Zone 1989 (Movie)

Randolph (Actor)

The 15th Annual People's Choice Awards 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour 1987 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

The Smothers Brothers Comedy Special 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

The Smothers Brothers Thanksgiving Special 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

What's Alan Watching? 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Evening at Pops (07/09/88) 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

The 14th Annual People's Choice Awards 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Home Is Where the Hart Is 1987 (Movie)

(Actor)

Benson 1979 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Secret World of the Very Young 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

And If I'm Elected... 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Actor

Fitz & Bones 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

Pandemonium 1982 (Movie)

Sergeant Cooper (Actor)

The Kingston Trio and Friends: Reunion 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

Take One Starring Jonathan Winters 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)

Actor

Serial 1980 (Movie)

Spike (Actor)

The Kids Are Alright 1979 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Silver Bears 1978 (Movie)

Donald Luckman (Actor)

There Goes the Bride 1978 (Movie)

Timothy Westerby (Actor)

Play It Again, Uncle Sam 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

Swing Out, Sweet Land 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

The Smothers Brothers Show 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

The Very First Glen Campbell Special 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

A Salute to Television's 25th Anniversary 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

Get to Know Your Rabbit 1972 (Movie)

Donald Beeman (Actor)

The Return of the Smothers Brothers 1969 - 1970 (TV Show)

Actor

The Smothers Brothers Show 1969 - 1970 (TV Show)

Actor

The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour 1966 - 1969 (TV Show)

Actor

Marineland Carnival 1963 - 1964 (TV Show)

Actor

The Steve Allen Show 1955 - 1962 (Tv Show)

Actor

Dream On (TV Show)

Actor

Once Upon a Mattress (TV Show)

Actor

Terror at Alcatraz (TV Show)

Actor

Timmy's Special Delivery (TV Show)

Voice
Music (2)

The Smothers Brothers Thanksgiving Special 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Song Performer

The Smothers Brothers Thanksgiving Special 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Performer
Producer (2)

The Smothers Brothers Thanksgiving Special 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

The Summer Smothers Brothers Show 1967 - 1968 (TV Show)

Producer

Biography

Although best known as his on-stage persona of "Tommy," the gentle but easily irked half of the folk singing duo The Smothers Brothers, actor, writer and musician Tom Smothers was also one of the most socially conscious talents in Hollywood during the 1960s. With younger brother Dick, he formed a musical act that combined easy-going humor with traditional folk songs; their popularity on the nightclub circuit led to their own series, "The Smothers Brothers Show" (CBS, 1965-66). Smothers hit his true stride as an entertainer and social commentator with "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" (CBS, 1967-69), which began life as a typical variety program based around the duo's act. But Smothers moved the focus of the show to satiric jabs at the social and political ills of the day, including the war in Vietnam and civil rights. The show came under heavy fire from the network, which censored performances by politically-charged performers and even whole episodes before pulling the plug on the program in 1969. Smothers continued to return to television over the next three decades, both as a solo act and with his brother, though none of his subsequent efforts met the same level of quality as their 1960s variety show. Their contributions to television were largely overshadowed by their enduring popularity as a comedy act, but the 2002 documentary "Smothered" and a special Emmy Award in 2008 served as excellent reminders that Tom Smothers' contributions to the level of political discourse on American television were immeasurable.

Born Thomas Bolin Smothers III on Governor's Island in New York on Feb. 2, 1937, he and brother Richard were the sons of Major Thomas Smothers, a U.S. Army officer who died in a prisoner of war camp in Japan during World War II. Smothers and his brother were raised by their mother in Redondo Beach, CA, and attended San Jose State University, where they planted the seeds of their musical act. A stint in a folk group called the Casual Quintet preceded their debut as a duo in 1959. Their act put a novel spin on the traditional folk music duo; the brothers wove comedy elements into their banter between songs, which was usually oriented around their intense sibling rivalry. Tom was congenial to the point of being slow-witted, but could be roused to ire by Dick's smooth patter; his inevitable response to losing an "argument" with Dick was a petulant cry of "Mom always liked you best!" In real life, Tom was anything but dense, and handled all of their business affairs.

The Smothers Brothers' act made them a top draw in the nation's night clubs, and they eventually released 12 albums to considerable acclaim. They made their TV debut in 1961 on "The Jack Paar Show" (NBC, 1957-1962) and soon became popular guests on variety programs, including "The Steve Allen Show" (NBC/ABC, 1956-1961), which made them regulars in 1961. Four years later, they earned their own series, "The Smothers Brothers Show." The sitcom starred Dick as a business executive who was roped into assisting his brother (Tom), an apprentice angel who bungled his attempts to perform heavenly acts on Earth. Neither brother sang or performed on the show until mid-way through the season, which may have contributed to its early demise. In subsequent interviews, Tom was vocal in his dislike for the show and its producers, Four Star Television.

Tom and Dick returned to CBS a year after their sitcom ground to a halt with a show that seemed more tailored to their talents. "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" began its network run as a quick-witted variety program that put the brothers front and center while bringing in popular but safe guest stars and musical acts as support. But the show, which employed new comedy writers Steve Martin and Rob Reiner, soon displayed its true colors by poking fun at some of the more sacred cows of the day. Comedian Pat Paulsen deflated the upcoming presidential election by nominating himself for the highest office on a promise that he would not serve if elected. Subsequent episodes took potshots at religion - which resulted in an on-air apology from Tom and Dick - as well as the escalating violence in Vietnam and in the nation's streets. The show's choice of musical guests also reflected its growing interest in the counterculture movement of the day, with rock and soul acts like the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Cream and the Who replacing the usual pop musicians and established performers. Said musical acts often generated as much controversy as the writing - Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick performed the band's "Crown of Creation" in blackface, while the Who famously detonated their instruments mid-set, which resulted in injuries to drummer Keith Moon and guitarist Pete Townshend. Though he continued to play the buffoon on the program, Tom Smothers cast most of the deciding votes in airing this material.

Decisions such as these made "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" wildly popular with younger audiences and the intelligentsia, but CBS was mortified by the program and actively sought to restrain its political edge. The network demanded that episodes of the show be submitted to its censors 10 days before airdate for approval, and deleted an entire performance by Harry Belafonte that was set against a backdrop of violent footage from the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Eventually, an entire episode was pulled from its airdate over perceived inflammatory comments by singer Joan Baez and comedian Jackie Mason. The show was eventually aired two months later, but the writing was clearly on the wall for the Smothers Brothers. Despite being renewed for the 1969-1970 season, CBS president William Paley cancelled the show on the grounds that the show had failed to meet deadlines for submitting episodes to the censors. A breach of contract suit was filed and won by the Smothers Brothers, but the show never returned to the air. There was some joy, however, in an Emmy win for the show's writing in 1968, though few knew that Tom Smothers - the show's de facto head writer - had removed his name from the nomination for fear that it would hurt the show's chances.

The Smothers Brothers returned to television almost immediately after their cancellation by CBS; ABC picked up "The Smothers Summer Show" in 1970, which included three episodes of their previous program that had gone unaired by CBS. The program failed to click with viewers, but Tom gave the medium another shot with "Tom Smothers' Organic Prime Time Space Ride" (syndicated, 1971), which suffered an equally sudden death. The brothers soon revived their touring act on the nightclub and casino circuit, while Tom lent his wide-eyed routine to a variety of TV and film projects. He was top-billed opposite Orson Welles as a novice magician in Brian De Palma's cult comedy "Get To Know Your Rabbit" (1971), and enjoyed supporting turns in such well-regarded if financially unsuccessful features as "Silver Bears" (1978) and "Serial" (1980). TV kept him well employed with guest shots on sitcoms and variety shows throughout the 1970s and 1980s; he also lent his voice to several animated projects. However, Smothers never lost his connection to the counterculture, as evidenced by his appearance on John Lennon's single "Give Peace a Chance" in 1971.

With Dick, Tom Smothers attempted to recapture the irreverence of the "Comedy Hour" on several occasions during the 1970s and 1980s. "The Smothers Brothers Show" (NBC, 1975) was the first, but lost its initial groundswell of interest when audiences discovered that it lacked the social edge of their previous series. They returned in 1980 with "The Tom and Dick Smothers Brothers Specials" (1980), a pair of variety one-offs that re-ignited some interest in their TV careers, as did an appearance on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) in which both brothers broke a picket line to co-host the show against the wishes of the Writers Guild. However, "Fitz and Bones" (NBC, 1981), a sitcom with Tom and Dick as inept news reporters, was a wash after just five episodes. Tom returned to features with "Pandemonium" (1982), a broad parody of horror movie conventions, and resumed a busy schedule of guest shots.

In 1988, Tom and Dick were feted by CBS with "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour: The 20th Reunion," which brought together many of the show's original guests and performers for a nostalgic look back. It drew considerable ratings for the network, which soon ordered a new series along the lines of the once-pilloried sixties show. The new series (CBS, 1988-89) was remarkably identical to the original - Tom and Dick were still doing their sibling rivalry act; the music acts were a balance of guests from the first program and newer bands; even Pat Paulsen was back with a new bid for the Oval Office. One new element was "The Yo-Yo Man," a silent routine which showcased Tom's impressive skills with a yo-yo. Despite the tried-and-true formula, the show lasted just one season.

In 2002, Tom's struggles with CBS were the focus of a documentary, "Smothered," which explored the controversy that swirled around the "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" in the 1960s. The new millennium saw more tributes from such esteemed organizations as the Museum of Radio and Television, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Video Software Dealers Association, which bestowed the George Carlin Freedom of Expression Award on them for their support of the First Amendment. Both Tom and Dick were later given honorary doctorates from San Jose State University.

Smothers co-starred with Carol Burnett and Tracey Ullman in the 2005 TV production of the Broadway musical "Once Upon a Mattress," and continued to lend his unique comic talents to sitcoms. He was also a frequent commentator on documentaries and news specials about the history of television and the '60s political movement, while maintaining a regular schedule of live dates with brother Dick. The duo also operated their own winery, Remick Ridge Vineyards, in Sonoma, CA. In 2008, Tom Smothers finally received his due as a writer on the original "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" with a special Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. The award was presented to Smothers by his former writing staffer, Steve Martin.

Relationships

Marcy Carriker Casting

Wife
Married in 1990

Rochelle Robley

Wife

Stephanie Shorr

Wife

Dick Smothers Actor

Brother
One half of the musical comedy team "The Smothers Brothers" appeared together on the shows, "The Smothers Brothers Show" (CBS) from 1965-1966 and "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" (CBS) from 1967-1969

Thomas Smothers

Father
A West Point graduate and Army officer who died during WWII, while being transported from a Japanese prisoner of war camp in Fukuoka, Japan, to a POW camp in Mukden, Manchuria in 1945

Ruth Smothers

Mother
Died of emphysema in 1988

Riley Smothers

Daughter
Born c. 1996 mother, Marcy Carriker

Bolyn Smothers

Son
Born c. 1993 mother, Marcy Carriker

Sherry Smothers

Sister

Thomas Smothers, IV

Son
From his first marriage

EDUCATION

Redondo Union High School

Redondo Beach , California
Was a state champion gymnast in the parallel bars

San José State University

San Jose , California

Milestones

2005

Appeared in "The Aristocrats" documentary, produced by comedians Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza

2005

Appeared in the ABC TV-movie, "Once Upon a Mattress"

2002

Was the subject of the Bravo documentary "Smothered: The Censorship Struggles of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour"

1990

Lent (uncredited) singing voice to "Tom and Tom, the Brothers Brothers" a sketch on the FOX comedy show "In Living Color"

1988

Returned to CBS for a brief but successful run in "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour"

1988

Took part in the CBS special "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour 20th Reunion Show" (aired 21 years after the debut of the series)

1986

Began appearing in a series of commercials for Magnavox

1981

Returned to NBC with the short-lived "Fitz and Bones" an hour-long comedy/drama show about a mis-matched TV news team

1980

Re-teamed for the "The Tom and Dick Smothers Brothers Specials" I and II (NBC)

1980

Played a supporting role in the comedy film "Serial"

1977

Appeared on Broadway and toured in the play "I Love My Wife"

1975

Debuted on NBC with the low-rated "The Smothers Brothers Show"

1972

Portrayed corporate-executive-turned-tap-dancing-magician Donald Beeman in Brian De Palma's "Get to Know Your Rabbit"

1969

Appeared on the short-lived ABC variety show "Smothers Brothers Summer Show"

1968

Played guitar on John Lennon's recording of his single "Give Peace a Chance"

1967

Again collaborated with his brother for the controversial CBS variety show "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour"; when the show was abruptly canceled due to issues of censorship, the Brothers filed a successful breach of contract suit against the network

1965

Co-starred with brother, Dick, in the CBS comedy "The Smothers Brothers Show"

1961

Released their successful debut album, Live at the Purple Onion

1961

Appeared regularly on "The New Steve Allen Show" (ABC)

1959

Made their debut as a duo of folk singers, with Tom on acoustic guitar and Dick on stand-up bass

Bonus Trivia

.

The Smothers Brothers operate the Remick Ridge Vineyards (Remick was their mother's maiden name) in Sonoma County, California and continue to tour.

SIMILAR ARTICLES