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News Currents Sr.

News Currents Sr. is a current events program designed specifically for use as a group activity in a residential setting. It provides you with a stimulating and interactive approach for presenting current events each week.

Story Text | Remember When...
Remember When...
“The Tonight Show” has been an American institution since
[1] “The Tonight Show” was created in 1953 in New York City. This show, originally called “Tonight!”, ran on New York station WNBC for several months before it was broadcast nationwide starting in 1954.

[2] Here you see the first host of “The Tonight Show.” Who was he? (Steve Allen.) Allen was quick-witted and funny, and was a talented jazz pianist as well as a great interviewer. His version of “Tonight!” looked a lot like the versions that followed. He started with a comedy monologue, talked to famous guests, and performed sketches with regulars like Don Knotts.

[3] Allen was such a successful host that he was able to start a successful Sunday night variety show. Do you remember “The Steve Allen Show?” In 1957, NBC told Allen to leave “The Tonight Show” so he could focus on beating his main Sunday night competition: “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Was this a good idea? Why or why not?

[4] The next host is shown here. Do you remember his name? (Jack Paar.) Paar’s warm, witty style made him a star. Did you watch this version of the show?

[5] Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy were both guests on Parr’s show as was Fidel Castro. But Paar was a controversial figure. Once, in 1960, Paar walked off the show because he was angry that the NBC censors cut one of his favorite jokes because they thought it was offensive. Do you remember this incident? Paar eventually came back and hosted until 1962. What else do you remember about the early years of “The Tonight Show”?

[6] But for many people, the most enduring symbol of this show was the next host, shown here. Can you name him? (Johnny Carson.) Johnny Carson brought his dry sense of humor to “The Tonight Show” starting in 1962, and continued for another 30 years. Carson’s monologues were sharp but rarely mean, and he was widely respected. Who was his sidekick, who introduced him with “Heeeeeere’s Johnny!” (Ed McMahon.)

[7] Carson, who moved the show to Los Angeles in 1972, also became well known for his recurring characters, including the fortune teller Carnac the Magnificent. Why do you think Johnny Carson was so popular? What else do you remember about his time on “The Tonight Show”? When Johnny Carson retired, many thought NBC would replace him with David Letterman, who hosted another show on the network.

[8] Instead, NBC named Jay Leno the new host of “The Tonight Show,” starting in 1992. David Letterman was given a late-night talk show at CBS. Did you watch either of these shows? Which one did you prefer? Leno was #1 in the ratings for most of his 17 years as host of “The Tonight Show.”

[9] But the network decided they needed to appeal to a younger audience, and replaced Leno with Conan O’Brien. Did you enjoy Jay Leno’s show? Did you stop watching once Conan O’Brien took over? This experiment lasted seven months before NBC switched back to Jay Leno again.

[10] In 2014, comedian Jimmy Fallon took over “The Tonight Show,” moving it back to New York City for the first time in more than four decades. He has stiff competition now with Stephen Colbert on CBS, and Jimmy Kimmel on ABC. Do you stay up to watch any of these shows? Who is your favorite all-time host of “The Tonight Show”? What is your favorite “Tonight Show” memory?
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