Tom Smothers, One-Half of the Smothers Brothers, Dead at 86

Tom Smothers
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Dick Smothers, Tom's brother and comedic partner announced his death after he succumbed to cancer at the age of 86.

In a sad announcement, Dick Smothers revealed on Tuesday that his brother and comedic partner, Tom Smothers, had succumbed to cancer at the age of 86.

"Tom was not only the loving older brother that everyone would want in their life, he was a one-of-a-kind creative partner. I am forever grateful to have spent a lifetime together with him, on and off stage, for over 60 years. Our relationship was like a good marriage – the longer we were together, the more we loved and respected one another. We were truly blessed," Dick Smothers said in a statement.

The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, a groundbreaking one-hour variety show on CBS, made its debut in February 1967. The show featured skits and songs by the two brothers, bringing fun and innovative comedy to network television. Tom played the guitar, and Dick played stand-up bass as the two entertained America with their comedic singing and iconic bickering.

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Tom is survived by his children Bo and Riley Rose Smothers, grandson Phoenix, Marcy Carriker Smothers, sister-in-law Marie Smothers, and several nephews and a niece.

Producer George Schlatter told ET in a statement, "I loved Tommy. Tommy and I were great friends. Tommy took the rap for a lot of what I did. See, we've gotta find room for the rebels. We've gotta find room for the people for whom there is no room. And Tommy's one and now, he will be terribly missed by all."

The National Comedy Center executive director Journey Gunderson issued a statement on Tom’s passing, saying he "was not only an extraordinary comedic talent, who, together with his brother Dick, became the most enduring comedy duo in history, entertaining the world for over six decades – but was a true champion for freedom of speech, harnessing the power of comedy to push boundaries and our political consciousness."

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"Tom was a true pioneer who changed the face of television and transformed our culture with The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which satirized politics, combated racism, protested the Vietnam War, and led the way for Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, today’s network late night shows, and so much more. We were proud to bring Tom and Dick out of retirement and reunite them on stage in 2019 to celebrate their legendary careers, and we are honored to preserve Tom’s remarkable work and legacy here at the National Comedy Center for generations to come," Gunderson said.

Comedian David Steinberg, whose controversial satirical sermons ultimately contributed to the cancellation of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, also paid tribute on Instagram.

"The world just became a lot less funny," Steinberg wrote, alongside a photo of the two on the show. "We got into so much trouble together. And you were one of the great supportive friends. I owe so much to you. I love you Tommy and I will miss you."

A private memorial service for family and friends is set to take place in 2024. Dick and his wife, Marie, have requested memorial donations honoring Tom be made to the National Comedy Center.