Tom Smothers Of The Legendary Smothers Brothers Musical Comedy Duo Passes At 86

Comedians Tom and Dick Smothers (“The Smothers Brothers”) pose before their show at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
1:19 PM – Wednesday, December 27, 2023

According to a statement from his brother, Tom Smothers, the comedian and musician who gained notoriety in the 1960s as one half of the renowned Smothers Brothers performance duo, has passed away.


Tom died at age 86.

“Tom was not only the loving older brother that everyone would want in their life; he was a one-of-a-kind creative partner,” said Dick Smothers in a statement published on Wednesday. “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.”

According to a statement from the National Comedy Center, Dick Smothers confirmed that his brother passed away quietly on Tuesday at home with his family. He had fought stage II lung cancer, which ultimately took his life.

With their popular CBS program “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” which debuted and earned an Emmy in 1969, Tom and Dick Smothers set new standards in television.

The brothers created both controversy and laughter as folk singers and self-labeled “clowns.”

Bassist Dick Smothers and guitarist Tom Smothers offered sharp remarks on a variety of subjects. They were well-known for their sibling rivalry routine and the quip that went along with it: “Mom liked you best!”

The two were not afraid to address political problems that were dividing the country at the time, in addition to their music and humor.

The brothers “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,” according to the National Comedy Center.

When Tom and Dick spoke with “CBS Sunday Morning” last year, they discussed the memorable years of their legendary careers.

In the interview, Tom asserted that he was not very political while the “Smothers Brothers” variety show was airing, but he did characterize himself as “socially conscious,” pointing out that the other writers on the program, which included Steve Martin and Rob Reiner, were.

The brothers had positive memories of the show, its effect on viewers, and their bond overall.

“People laughing is holy,” Tom said. “And if you can be part of that, control it, and create it, it’s the best thing ever.”

Dick then chimed in, saying, “When someone said, ‘What’s the happiest time in your life,’ it’s standing on that stage with my brother a few inches away on my right and having that feeling with that audience. That defines my whole life. There’s nothing better.”

The National Comedy Center’s executive director, Journey Gunderson, lauded the brothers’ innovative role in fusing political satire with sketch comedy and Smothers’ skill as an entertainer.

“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,” Gunderson said.

In addition to his sister-in-law, several nieces and nephews, Tom Smothers is survived by his wife, Marcy Carriker Smothers, two daughters, Bo Smothers and Riley Rose Smothers, and a grandson, Phoenix.

Sometime in 2024, a private memorial service will take place.

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