Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The Lights Dim on the soundstage

Tonight, Jay, Dave, Conan, Jimmy and any other late night talk show host shall share one thing. The knowledge that they have or had their jobs, thanks to Jack Paar. Parr passed away this morning at the age of 85, he changed the way most of us watch television. He took over the late night slot on NBC from Steve Allen in 1957 and his Tonight Show did things a little differently. Instead of a variety show, Paar talked, he had entertainers and politicians on and they talked, Paar brought out details even they might not want to have shared. He gave the audience details about himself, sometimes spending most of a show just talking about anything that seemed to come into his mind, the audiences ate it up. By 1960 the day was not complete until you heard what Jack had to say.

There are a lot of musicians, comedians and other noteworthy celebrities that can say they got their break on Jack Paar's Tonight Show. When he walked away from the show in 1962, many couldn't believe he was serious. He was, he hosted a prime time show for three more years then retired from television. The man who took over in 62 went on to own the late night slot for decades, Johnny Carson eventually would be known as the King of Late Night, but it was Paar who set the format in motion.

To this day the Late night spot on television is one of the most coveted, Leno and Letterman have been slugging it out for years now. Others have come and gone, good and bad. All can be thankful that in the late fifties, a man sat down at a desk and just talked.

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