The Original “Tonight” Show Debuted On This Day in 1954
If you’re a night owl, you’ve probably caught “The Tonight Show” on NBC TV. On this day in 1954, the original late night program that started it all, “Tonight” premiered on NBC. Comic genius (in my opinion) Steve Allen was the first host, and in its 58 year history, the show has had a total of five hosts. (actually six as Jay Leno has a host stint twice).
For the record, here are the 5 or 6 “Tonight Show” hosts:
1. Steve Allen 2. Jack Paar (although the show’s name was changed to “The Jack Paar Show”),
Over the years, careers were launched on “The Tonight Show” of everyone from Seinfeld to Rodney Dangerfield. And there were hundreds of fill-in hosts from Jerry Lewis, Burt Reynolds and Don Rickles to Joan Rivers and Hugh Downs!
Here’s a fascinating video clip from “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”, featuring guest David Letterman (who hosted Late Night on NBC at the time) discussing Jay Leno as becoming the new show host (Letterman was bypassed and went off to CBS to host his own “The Late Show With David Letterman” on CBS)