The squabbling siblings, Tom and Dick Smothers, developed their act as college students in the late 1950s. After graduating from San Jose State University, they took their jokes and satirical folk singing into local nightclubs.
They got their break on TV in 1961, on Jack Parr's "Tonight" show. They rose to prominence on the variety shows of the day. In 1967 the pair got their own program, "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour."
With Tom cast as the naive child and Dick as the all-knowing older sibling, the show was a hit. But the brothers became controversial when they started dealing with social ills and the Vietnam War.
Bouts with network censors led to the cancellation of their Emmy-award-winning CBS show in 1969. The show was picked up briefly by ABC, NBC, and again by CBS, but not with similar success.
Tom ("Yo-Yo Man") and his brother (the one that "Mom liked best") continue to perform at concerts, corporate events, and on television. (They have a Food Network special on Sept. 27.)
In a recent phone interview, Dick said: "We just intended to do a good job - and sometimes history thrusts you into popularity.... I've learned that I'm here on this Earth to grow and to make it better, and that we're all irreplaceable. That's more important than anything."
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