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The Tonight Show Starring Jack Paar
Tonight starring Jack Paar-Intertitle.jpg
The Tonight Show Starring Jack Paar intertitle
Format Talk show
Variety show
Presented by Jack Paar
Starring Jose Melis (1957-1962)
Narrated by Hugh Downs
Country of origin United States
Location(s) GE Building
Studio 6B
New York, New York
Running time 105 min. (with commercials)
Original channel NBC
Original airing July 29, 1957 – March 30, 1962
Preceded by Tonight! America After Dark
Followed by The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

The Tonight Show Starring Jack Paar is a talk show hosted by Jack Paar under The Tonight Show franchise from 1957 to 1962. It originally aired during late-night.

During it's run it was broadcast from Studio 6B inside of the GE Building, formerly known as the Texaco Star Theatre. The same studio would also host The Tonight Show Starring Jack Paar, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.



In July 1957, NBC returned the program to a talk/variety show format once again, with Jack Paar becoming the new solo host of the show. Under Paar, most of the NBC affiliates which had dropped the show during the ill-fated run of America After Dark began airing the show once again. Paar's era began the practice of branding the series after the host, and as such the program, though officially still called The Tonight Show, was marketed as The Jack Paar Show. A combo band conducted by Paar's Army buddy pianist Jose Melis filled commercial breaks and backed musical entertainers. [See music and announcers below.] Paar also introduced the idea of having guest hosts; one of these early hosts was Johnny Carson. In the late 1950s, it was one of the first regularly scheduled shows to be videotaped in color.

An English lady is visiting Switzerland. She asks about the location of the "W.C." The Swiss, thinking she is referring to the "Wayside Chapel", leaves her a note that said (in part) "the W.C. is situated nine miles from the room that you will occupy... It is capable of holding about 229 people and it is only open on Sunday and Thursday... It may interest you to know that my daughter was married in the W.C. and it was there that she met her husband... I shall be delighted to reserve the best seat for you, if you wish, where you will be seen by everyone."
——Censored joke dropped from the February 11, 1960 show.

On February 11, 1960, Jack Paar walked off his show for a month after NBC censors edited out a segment, taped the night before, about a joke involving a "W.C." (water closet, a polite term for a flush toilet) being confused for a "wayside chapel." As he left his desk, he said, "I am leaving The Tonight Show. There must be a better way of making a living than this." Paar's abrupt departure left his startled announcer, Hugh Downs, to finish the broadcast himself.[1]

Paar returned to the show on March 7, 1960, strolled on stage, struck a pose, and said, "As I was saying before I was interrupted..."[1] After the audience erupted in applause, Paar continued, "When I walked off, I said there must be a better way of making a living. Well, I've looked... and there isn't."

Paar's Deperature

Jack Paar left the show in March 1962, citing the fact that he could no longer handle the load of putting on the show five nights a week. The Jack Paar Show moved to prime time (as The Jack Paar Program) and aired weekly, on Friday nights, through 1965.

As for Tonight, Johnny Carson was chosen as Paar's successor. At the time, Carson was host of the weekday afternoon quiz show Who Do You Trust? on ABC. Because Carson was under contract to ABC through September (they held him to his contract until the day it expired, prompting him to make occasional wisecracks on Who Do You Trust? about the situation- "I'd like to welcome you to ABC...the network with a heart"), he could not take over as host until October 1, 1962. The months between Paar and Carson were taken by a series of guest hosts, including Groucho Marx and Mort Sahl. The show was broadcast under the title The Tonight Show during this interregnum.

See Also


  1. ^ a b Susman, Gary (January 27, 2004). "Tonight Show icon Jack Paar dies". Entertainment Weekly.,,583933,00.html. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 


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