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'The Uncensored Story' Of The Smothers Brothers

Tom (left) and Dick Smothers in 1976. CBS canceled their show, <em>The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour</em>, in 1969. The pair would return to TV with many replacement shows, though none had the same impact as the original <em>Hour</em>.
Tom (left) and Dick Smothers in 1976. CBS canceled their show, <em>The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour</em>, in 1969. The pair would return to TV with many replacement shows, though none had the same impact as the original <em>Hour</em>.

This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 30, 2009.Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Houris now out in paperback.

From 1967 to 1969, Tommy and Dick Smothers challenged the censors at CBS and the political establishment who tried to tame their wildly popular -- and politically left-leaning -- show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. The brothers lost their show, but later won a battle in court. TV critic David Bianculli joins host Terry Gross to talk about the legendary comedy duo who tackled political issues and censorship.

Based on extensive interviews with the Smothers Brothers and other key players, Bianculli describes the siblings' lives both onscreen and behind the scenes in a new book, Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

Bianculli is a frequent contributor and guest host on Fresh Air. His previous books are Teleliteracy: Taking Television Seriously and Dictionary of Teleliteracy: Television's 500 Biggest Hits, Misses, and Events. He teaches TV and film history at Rowan University and is founder and editor of the website TVWorthWatching.com.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.