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Tonight Show Debuted 58 Years Ago

The Tonight Show
Jemal Countess, Getty Images

Think about it.  How many hours of your life has been spent watching the Tonight Show?  How many celebrities have you watched, laughed with, sang along with?

Hundreds?  Thousands? The Tonight Show was a nightly community gathering.  And that community grew and grew and grew into the millions and finally has become a television institution.

And now The Tonight Show is 58 years old.

For those of us of my age (and you know who you are!) the Tonight Show was the Johnny Carson Show.  Night after night, Johnny would enter our living rooms or bedrooms, deliver a monologue, sit behind the desk, light a cigarette (yes, for you younger folks, smoking seemed to be almost required on the Tonight Show for many years) and invite in star after star after star. From Groucho Marx to Bob Hope, Dean Martin to Frank Sinatra, George Burns to Jerry Seinfeld and everyone in-between.

But it wasn’t Johnny who hosted the premiere show back on September 27, 1952.  Nope.  That was another Hollywood legend.

Steve Allen was the original host of the Tonight Show on NBC.  Then of course Jack Paar.  Then came “Here’s Johnny!”.  And now Jay Leno (well, with that short Conan stint in there too).

The Tonight Show, 58 years later.  Happy Birthday to an American television institution.

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