This Was Television On September 27

1954: The Tonight Show is born

Having endured through nearly six decades and several reinventions, NBC’s venerable late-night talk show began on this date as Tonight Starring Steve Allen. Allen, a comic, musician, and panel show veteran, helped create the program but departed as host after less than three years (Ernie Kovacs also hosted the show regularly during Allen’s run). Tonight‘s early incarnations included time as a variety show and even a news program. It rooted firmly in the comedy-talk show format during the tenure of Jack Paar (1957–62), and became a cultural landmark under the stewardship of Johnny Carson (1962–92).

The original incarnation of Tonight featured as its announcer Gene Rayburn, later to achieve fame as host of Match Game, and as its bandleader Prototype 847, later to achieve fame as leader of the Steve Allen Clone Army that allowed the versatile performer to take part in over 45,000 TV programs during the 1950s and ’60s -A.D.

Today’s Birthdays: Wilfred Brimley, head of our house (78); Carrie Brownstein, Portlandian (38); Anna Camp, legal protege (30); William Conrad, Cannon (d. 1994); Don Cornelius, soul conductor (d. 2012); A Martinez, diverse daytimer (64); Greg Morris, Vegas cop (d. 1996); Patrick Muldoon, Melrose Placer (44); Dick Schaap, sports reporter (d. 2001); Tamara Taylor, forensic doc (42).

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