Tom Smothers, one half of the singing comedy duo The Smothers Brothers, died at home Tuesday at age 86 following a battle with cancer.
“Tom was not only the loving older brother that everyone would want in their life, he was a one-of-a-kind creative partner,” Dick Smothers said in a statement shared by the National Comedy Center.
“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,” Smothers said.
Smothers is survived by his children Bo and Riley Rose Smothers, grandson Phoenix, and wife Marcy Carriker Smothers.
“Tom Smothers 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,” National Comedy Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson said in a statement.
“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,” Gunderson said.
“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.
The Smothers Brothers careers took off in the late 1950s and 1960s with a folksy yet witty comedy style that combined irreverent humor and satirical commentary on current events. The Smothers Brothers became household names with the success of their television series, “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” which aired from 1967 to 1969. The show pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable on network television at the time, both in terms of political satire and censorship, eventually leading to its controversial cancellation.
Beyond television, Tom Smothers also appeared in films and continued to perform live with his brother for decades, solidifying their legacy as pioneers of comedy who influenced generations of comedians and entertainers. His career had been marked by a commitment to free speech and the power of humor to challenge the status quo.
A private service will be held for friends and family in 2024. Smothers’ family has requested that memorial donations be made to the National Comedy Center.
TMX contributed to this article