Steve Allen & the "Tonight" show

     Steve Allen created the grand daddy of all Late Night talk shows, the Tonight show, and was its first host.  This landmark in Late Night TV started as the local Steve Allen Show on WNBT-TV in New York in July of 1953.

    The original producer was Johnny Sterns, the director, Dwight Hemion.  Bill Harbach replaced Sterns before the show moved to the full network.  The announcer was Gene Rayburn.  The show's orchestra was first conducted by Bobby Byrne and then Skitch Henderson.

Click to see a clip of the first "Tonight" show. 
 Mac QuickTime or Windows Media Player

    On September 27, 1954, the show moved to the Hudson Theatre at 44th and Broadway and was broadcast for the first time over the full NBC network.  It ran, at that time five nights a week, one hour and forty-five minutes each night, with national airing beginning at 11:30 pm, after 15 minutes of local production just for the original New York fans.

         Among the regular features that became classics were Steve’s Man-on-the-Street interviews, his passionate readings of “Letters to the Editor,” and his adlib interviews of his audience.

     Crazy Shots was an original idea setting eccentric sight gags to music that later was used on such shows as Laugh-In.

      Steve writes in his book, Hi-Ho Steverino!, "The program appealed to TV viewers tired of a diet of old Charlie Chan movies and the frenetic tempo of Broadway Open House, which it replaced, and it enjoyed popularity from the start.  For the first time since coming to New York I felt completely in my element in television, partly because the new program was much like my old Hollywood radio show, only instead of a table I now sat at a desk.  There was very little script, mostly ad-lib chatter, questions from the audience, guest and audience interviews, piano music, and songs from Steve and Eydie, the band and myself.”

     "When we first started the show, I had no writers at all; none were needed.  Occasionally I would write a comic monologue or a simple sketch for a guest and myself, but all I actually required on a typical night was a piano, a couple of amusing letters form viewers, a newspaper article that had caught my fancy, an unusual toy that a member of my staff had picked up, a guest or two to chat with, and an audience to interview."

     Steve Allen hosted the Tonight Show from 1954-1957, when he turned the reins over to Jack Paar so he could focus on his new hit primetime comedy hour, “The Steve Allen Show,” also on NBC.

Special Offer -- While Supplies Last!
You can own a hard-cover, guaranteed authentic autographed copy of
Hi-Ho, Steverino! 

Only $19.95 plus s&h  (Limited Supply)
Steve Allen's 38th book is an autobiography covering his fifty years in radio and television. Filled with comedy, both on- and off-camera, this is Allen's first-person look at the Golden Age of TV. Hi-Ho, Steverino includes Steve's experiences as creator and first host of the Tonight Show, and his years as star of his own primetime comedy series The Steve Allen Show, where he worked with such gifted comedy players as Don Knotts, Tom Poston, Louis Nye, Pat Harrington, Jr., Gabriel Dell, Bill Dana, Dayton Allen, Buck Henry, Tim Conway, The Smothers Brothers, and Jim Nabors. In recalling the glory years of these series, Allen reminisces about getting to know such luminous guests as Jack Kerouac, Lenny Bruce, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis. There's a chapter on Allen's award-winning PBS series Meeting of Minds, and reports on his other comedy-and-talk shows, series and specials, in which he relates on-the-air TV boners, mistakes, and technical mishaps that are now part of the comic folklore of television history. Along the way, Steve Allen pays tribute to Arthur Godfrey, Ernie Kovacs, Jack Paar, Dave Garroway, Jerry Lester, and other video pioneers.

Click here for online ordering information.

Click here for more information on how to order online!

Makes a great gift!