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The Jack Paar Show

Jack Harold Paar (May 1, 1918 January 27, 2004) was an American author, radio and television comedian and talk show host, best known for his stint as host of The Tonight Show from 1957 to 1962. Time magazine's obituary of him noted that: "His fans would remember him as the fellow who split talk show history into two eras: Before Paar and Below Paar." After World War II, Paar worked in radio as a fill-in on The Breakfast Club show and appeared as a panelist on The $64 Question. He got his big break when Jack Benny, who had been impressed by Paar's U.S.O. performances, suggested that Paar serve as his 1947 summer replacement. Paar was enough of a hit on Benny's show that Benny's sponsor, the American Tobacco Company, decided to keep him on the air, moving him to ABC for the fall season. Paar later refused American Tobacco's suggestion that he come up with a weekly running gag or gimmick, saying he "wanted to get away from that kind of old-hat comedy," the kind being practiced by Benny and Fred Allen." The show was then terminated, earning Paar the enduring image of "a spoiled kid." A profile of Paar by the Museum of Broadcast Communications suggests that Paar later emulated Benny's mannerisms. Paar also signed as a contract player for Howard Hughes' RKO Pictures studio in the immediate postwar period, appearing as the emcee in the movie Variety Time (1948), a compilation of vaudeville sketches. He later recalled that RKO producers had trouble figuring out what kind of screen characters he could play until one of the executives dubbed him, "Kay Kyser [a popular bandleader of the time], with warmth." Paar projected a pleasant personality on film, and RKO called him back to emcee another filmed vaudeville show, Footlight Varieties (1951). He also appeared in the 1950 film Walk Softly, Stranger, starring Joseph Cotten. In 1951, he played Marilyn Monroe's boyfriend in the 20th Century Fox film Love Nest. Paar returned to radio in 1950, hosting the $64 Question for one season, then quitting in a wage dispute after the show's sponsor pulled out and NBC insisted everyone involved take a pay cut. In 1956, he gave radio one more try, hosting a disc jockey effort on ABC called The Jack Paar Show Paar once described that show as "so modest we did it from the basement rumpus room of our house in Bronxville." [wikipedia]


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