Comedian Tom Smothers turns75 years old today. Smothers was born on February 2, 1937, in New York City. After moving to California, he graduated from Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, California. He was a competitive unicyclist and a state champion gymnast in the parallel bars. Smothers later attended San José State University, then known as San Jose State College.
The Smothers Brothers initially wanted to be folk musicians. Tom didn't feel that he was good enough to be a professional musician, but he was funny enough to do comedy. The two began adding comedy bits to their act. Tom's first foray into the medium of television was as a regular on the The Steve Allen Show in 1961. He followed that role with a single episode of Burke's Law. The Smothers Brothers next appeared on the CBS sitcom, The Smothers Brothers Show from 1965 to 1966. Tom felt that the show didn't play to the brothers' strengths and wanted creative control over their next venture. Tom Smothers negotiated creative control over their next CBS show, a variety show entitled The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967. The brothers (particularly Tom) fought CBS censors to sneak in references to religion, recreational drugs, sex, and the Vietnam War. The brothers' oppositional stand on politics led to their show's demise with David Steinberg later claiming "The most innovative variety show on television shut down because of political pressure".