Jack Paar, the Late Night Talk Show Pioneer, died today at age 85. He took over the “Tonight Show” from Steve Allen in the mid fifties and his wit, sentimentality and easy style captivated the country. He attracted a wide variety of guests, from Judy Garland to the “Charley Weaver” character created by Cliff Arquette.
I remember being in my early teens when Jack Paar walked off the show in protest of the network’s decision not to air a joke about a “water closet” (i.e. a bathroom). I recall that the dispute so caught the country’s attention that the principal of my junior high school, at an assembly, lectured us that there were far more important things to think about other than some “rich, television personality walking off his show.” I suppose there were more important things, but I don’t remember them today. I do, however, remember Mr. Paar’s dramatic exit from the program.
I got it then, and I get it now.
May he rest in peace.