Tom Smothers, the older half of the legendary comedy duo The Smothers Brothers, died on Tuesday at the age of 86. According to a statement from the National Comedy Center, Smothers died “following a recent battle with cancer.”
A statement from Tom Smothers’ younger brother and professional partner, Dick Smothers, read that Tom passed away peacefully at his home in Santa Rosa, Calif., with his family at his side. Dick, 84, said in a statement: “Tom was not only the loving older brother that everyone would want in their life, he was a one-of-a-kind creative partner. I am forever grateful to have spent a lifetime together with him, on and off stage, for over 60 years. Our relationship was like a good marriage – the longer we were together, the more we loved and respected one another. We were truly blessed.” The folk-singing brothers became household names on their CBS variety show “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” which ran from 1967 to 1969. Tom played guitar and Dick played stand-up bass as part of the act.
Journey Gunderson, executive director of the National Comedy Center, said in a statement: “Tom 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. Tom was a true pioneer who changed the face of television and transformed our culture with The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which satirized politics, combated racism, protested the Vietnam War, and led the way for ‘Saturday Night Live,’ ‘The Daily Show,’ today’s network late night shows, and so much more. We were proud to bring Tom and Dick out of retirement and reunite them on stage in 2019 to celebrate their legendary careers, and we are honored to preserve Tom’s remarkable work and legacy here at the National Comedy Center for generations to come.”
Tom is survived by his children, Bo and Riley Rose Smothers, grandson Phoenix, Marcy Carriker Smothers, sister-in-law Marie Smothers, and several nephews and a niece. He is predeceased by his son Tom and sister Sherry Smothers. Dick and his wife, Marie, have requested memorial donations honoring Tom to be made to the National Comedy Center. A private memorial service for family and friends is set to take place sometime in 2024.
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