I kid you not: there were Tonight Show hosts way before Jimmy Fallon was even born. If you thought late night started with Johnny Carson, Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, think again.
When the Tonight Show premiered nationally on NBC in 1954, Steve Allen was the man behind the desk. I interviewed him 30 years ago, in 1992, about Leno and David Letterman's fight for Carson's late night throne. Five years later, I had a longer one-on-one with the man who succeeded Allen in 1957, Jack Paar.
The two men seem like total opposites at first. Allen was a tall, slick, composer-author-performer who was not above wearing a T-bag suit into a dunk tank for laffs. Paar was a touchy, engaging bundle of nerves who once quit in the middle of his own monologue.
Still, they also had a lot in common. Both were exceptionally articulate, as you'll hear on these two interviews. They also shared a feeling that television was lacking in taste compared to their Tonight Show years.
This is a slice of audible TV history I've never shared before. Please enjoy this latest brioux.tv podcast episode, which comes straight FROM THE VAULT.