The Tonight Show

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NBC (ended 1957)

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The Tonight Show

Show Summary

Tonight began in June 1953 as a local show on WNBT-TV, the NBC flagship station in New York. Steve Allen was the original host, and remained with the show when it moved to the network 15 months later. Under Allen, Tonight was very informal. He would open each evening seated at the piano, chatting and playing some of his own compositions. He then went to his desk, where he talked about anything that seemed to interest him. There were guest stars, in addition to his semi- regulars, but the emphasis was on Steve and his comedic ad-libbing. The entire one hour and fourty five minute show was done live. When Allen's prime-time series premiered in the summer of 1956, he cut back his Tonight appearances to Wednesday through Friday. A series of guest hosts filled in on Mondays and Tuesdays until Ernie Kovacs took over as Monday-Tuesday host on October 1, 1956. When Steve Allen left in January 1957, Tonight was replaced by a totally different type of program called "Tonight! America After Dark." The show lasted six months with hosts Jack Lescoulie and Al Collins. The show was not successful with viewers or critics, so it was decided to return to a format closer to the original, thus The Jack Paar Show began. When Paar ended his run on March 30, 1962, The Tonight Show aired with a succession of substitute hosts, while awaiting the arrival of Johnny Carson on October 2, 1962. Carson remained the host for three decades until he turned the show over to Jay Leno on May 25, 1992.moreless
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