The Smothers Brothers

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Dick & Tommy Smothers

The Smothers Brothers are an American musical-comedy team, formed by real-life brothers Tom (born 1937) and Dick Smothers (born 1939). They were both born on Governor's Island in New York Harbor, where their father was stationed. Their father died during the Second World War in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, and they were raised by their mother in the Los Angeles area.

The brothers attended San Jose State University, and after a brief time in a folk group called the "Casual Quintet," the Smothers made their debut as a duo in 1959. They were a popular act in clubs and released several successful record albums.

The brothers' trademark act was performing folk songs (Tommy on acoustic guitar, Dick on stand-up bass), which usually led to fake arguments between the two siblings. Tommy's signature line was, "Mom always liked you best". Tommy (the elder of the two) acted 'slow', and Dick acted 'superior'. In real life Tommy was not 'slow' at all: He handled their business affairs and later gained fame as a yo-yo expert, The Yo-Yo Man, even starring in his own special entitled just that on television.

The brothers appeared on numerous television shows since the mid-1960s and hosted two shows of their own, the situation comedy The Smothers Brothers Show (1965-1966), in which Tom played an angel come back to earth, and then the variety show The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967.

The latter show became increasingly controversial for its references to youth culture, racism, and the Vietnam War, thus getting the comedians into regular conflicts with the network censors. The show also featured an impressive list of writers and regular performers who would eventually become some of the biggest names in comedy, like Pat Paulsen, Steve Martin, Don Novello, and Rob Reiner. CBS abruptly canceled the show on March 9, 1969, leading the brothers to file a successful breach of contract suit against the network. Despite the cancellation, the show went on to win the Emmy Award that year for best writing. The saga of the cancellation of the show is the subject of a 2002 documentary film, Smothered.

The Smothers Brothers had further shows: The Smothers Brothers Show (1975) and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1988-1989) and The Tom and Dick Smothers Brothers Specials I and II in 1980. They also lent their (uncredited) singing voices to "Tom and Tom, the Brothers Brothers" in In Living Color (1990-1992).

The Smothers Brothers operate the Remick Ridge Vineyards in Sonoma County, California and as late as 2004 continued to tour.


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