US comedian Tom Smothers, one half of comedy duo the Smothers Brothers, has died aged 86 after a “recent battle with cancer”.
Smothers died “peacefully” at his home surrounded by his family on December 26.
There will be a private memorial service for family and friends in 2024.
“Tom was not only the loving older brother that everyone would want in their life, he was a one-of-a-kind creative partner,” his brother and co-star Dick Smothers said in a statement.
“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.”
Dick, who co-stared in celebrated series The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, requested memorial donations honouring his brother are made to the National Comedy Centre.
Journey Gunderson, executive director at the National Comedy Centre, said: “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.
“Tom was a true pioneer who changed the face of television and transformed our culture with The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which satirised politics, combatted 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 honoured to preserve Tom’s remarkable work and legacy here at the National Comedy Centre for generations to come.”
In 2010, the pair were inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame following the success of their TV variety programme decades earlier.
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour ran from 1967 for three series and launched the careers of stars including Only Murders In The Building’s Steve Martin and New Girl’s Rob Reiner.
The show was nominated for 11 Emmy Awards, taking home a prize both in 1968 and 1969.
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