Death Cause of Tom Smothers


Death Cause of Tom Smothers

Tom Smothers Passed Away, Aged 86

Tom Smothers, one-half of the renowned Smothers Brothers comedy and music duo known for their outspoken stance against racism, opposition to the Vietnam War, and confrontations with television censors, passed away on Tuesday due to an aggressive form of cancer, as confirmed by his family.

At the age of 86, Tom Smothers breathed his last at his residence in Santa Rosa, California. The announcement of his passing was made on Wednesday by both his family and the National Comedy Center.

Tom was not just the affectionate elder brother that anyone would desire in their life; he was a unique and irreplaceable creative companion," expressed 84-year-old Dick Smothers in a statement. "I am eternally grateful to have shared a lifetime with him, both on and off the stage, spanning over 60 years. Our relationship resembled a successful marriage — the more time we spent together, the deeper our love and respect for each other grew. We were truly fortunate."

Tom and Dick Smothers were never hesitant to leverage their platform to challenge authority during the conservative and confrontation-averse 1960s media era. Their debut in the fall of 1967 marked the beginning of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" on CBS, a show that gained notoriety for its consistent mockery of the powerful, support for Vietnam War critics, and advocacy for civil rights. However, due to this content, CBS famously pulled the plug on the show in April 1969.

During a 2019 event commemorating the 50-year anniversary of their dismissal, the Smothers Brothers maintained their characteristic humor about their significant roles in pop culture history.

"It's genuinely an honor to be recognized in this manner," remarked Tom Smothers to The Associated Press in 2019. "At least we're both alive and not having someone speak for us. We can mumble our own way through.

Reflecting on their CBS termination in 1969, Dick Smothers expressed their belief that their comedy was relatively "benign" despite the strong backlash.

"Don't instruct a comedian not to say a certain word. They'll certainly do it," he stated. "The amusing part is, I revisit those things. They seem so harmless, but at that time, they were considered volatile."

However, as recently as 2004, Tom Smothers expressed uncertainty about whether American audiences were ready for candid political discourse on prime-time television.

Amidst a backdrop of "dirty words flowing, sex flowing, and violence," Tom Smothers, at the time, noted a lack of social commentary in media.

Born on Feb. 2, 1937, on Governors Island in New York, Thomas Bolyn Smothers III was the son of homemaker Ruth Remick Smothers and Army Maj. Thomas Smothers, who tragically died in World War II as a prisoner of war of the Japanese.

After relocating to suburban Los Angeles, the brothers graduated from San José State before embarking on their illustrious comedy and music career. They refined their skills at renowned clubs such as San Francisco’s Purple Onion and New York’s Blue Angel.

Despite early critical success, mainstream platforms initially resisted their folk music. Tom Smothers recounted the stroke of luck that got them on "The Tonight Show," hosted by Jack Paar.

"Paar kept telling our agent he didn't like folk singers — except for Burl Ives," recalled Smothers in 1964. "But one night he had a cancellation, and we went on. Everything worked right that night."

Following CBS's decision to end their show, the duo continued to work steadily for decades. In 1969, Tom Smothers played acoustic guitar in a Montreal hotel room while John Lennon and Yoko Ono recorded "Give Peace a Chance."

However, they never regained the mass popularity achieved with "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." Instead, they became icons for the potential of comedy to address serious topics through humor.

"We didn't do it intentionally," Tom Smothers remarked in 2019. "No guy goes to war and takes a bullet on purpose.

Journey Gunderson, Executive Director of the National Comedy Center, emphasized that shows like "Saturday Night Live" and "The Daily Show" can trace their lineage back to the groundbreaking influence of the Smothers Brothers.

“Tom Smothers was not only an extraordinary comedic talent, who, together with his brother Dick, became the most enduring comedy duo in history, entertaining the world for over six decades — but was a true champion for freedom of speech, harnessing the power of comedy to push boundaries and our political consciousness," stated Gunderson.

In his later years, when not challenging the establishment through music or comedy, Tom Smothers found himself immersed in the Sonoma Valley, crushing grapes at his Remick Ridge Vineyards, named in honor of his mother. Although he eventually sold it to Arrowhead Winery, some cabernet under the family's name is still available, with a bottle of 2018 Smothers-Remick Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon priced at $105.

Tom Smothers is survived by his brother Dick Smothers, children Bo and Riley Rose Smothers, their mother Marcy Carriker Smothers, grandson Phoenix, and sister-in-law Marie Smothers, according to the National Comedy Center.

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