Tom Smothers — one half of the famous singing comedy team the “Smothers Brothers” — has died.
In a statement released Wednesday, Dick Smothers announced his brother’s passing, saying Tom died at home as a result of cancer.
Dick went on to say “Tom was not only the loving older brother that everyone would want in their life, he was a one-of-a-kind creative partner.”
Continuing, Dick said, “I am forever grateful to have spent a lifetime together with him, on and off stage, for over 60 years.”
Dick ended with, “Our relationship was like a good marriage – the longer we were together, the more we loved and respected one another. We were truly blessed.”
In the late ’50s, early 1960s, Tom and Dick often appeared on TV variety shows and released popular albums of their stage performances. In 1967, they finally landed their own variety show, “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” which instantly became one of the hotly debated TV programs during the Vietnam War period.
The “Smothers Brothers” got canceled decades before cancellation became a thing. Tommy became super political when the show was in its second season, railing with satire against the Vietnam War. The Bros were especially critical of then-President Lyndon B. Johnson.
On one show Tommy looked straight into the camera and said, “Okay, all you guys in Vietnam, come on home.”
During one episode, Harry Belafonte sang, “Don’t Stop the Carnival,” and the backdrop on stage were images of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, where then-Mayor Richard Daley ordered law enforcement to beat Vietnam protesters in the streets.
They took on other issues as well, but it was too hot for CBS. The network pulled the plug in 1969 at the end of season 3. People in the anti-war movement, along with free speech advocates, were outraged, but the duo never returned.
Tommy and Dick sued CBS for breach of contract and they eventually got $775,000.
Think Dixie Chicks, but 40 years earlier.