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Jack Paar

Jack Paar

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Also Known As: Died: January 27, 2004
Born: May 1, 1918 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Canton, Ohio, USA Profession: TV host, radio announcer, comedian, producer, actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Though often less cited in the history of television talk shows than Johnny Carson, his successor to the host chair on "The Tonight Show" (NBC, 1954- ), Jack Paar was perhaps the most influential figure in the development of the medium. From 1952 to 1956, Paar offered a smart, witty and frequently live-wire alternative to the staid promotional parade that comprised talk and variety shows of the period. A relaxed presence at his desk or on his trademark stool, Paar invited audiences to join him in discourse with leading figures from entertainment, society and politics, all of whom treasured his intelligence and, more importantly, willingness to listen rather than orchestrate the conversation. However, Paar suffered mightily for his efforts: a deeply emotional man, he quit "Tonight" in tears over network censorship, which earned him a reputation as overly sensitive, at best - at worst, potentially unstable. After leaving "Tonight" in 1965, he would return to network TV twice more in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but left both with disinterest in pursuing complacent, content-free programming. His contributions to talk shows and the medium as a whole was paid fitting tribute in the years prior to his...

Though often less cited in the history of television talk shows than Johnny Carson, his successor to the host chair on "The Tonight Show" (NBC, 1954- ), Jack Paar was perhaps the most influential figure in the development of the medium. From 1952 to 1956, Paar offered a smart, witty and frequently live-wire alternative to the staid promotional parade that comprised talk and variety shows of the period. A relaxed presence at his desk or on his trademark stool, Paar invited audiences to join him in discourse with leading figures from entertainment, society and politics, all of whom treasured his intelligence and, more importantly, willingness to listen rather than orchestrate the conversation. However, Paar suffered mightily for his efforts: a deeply emotional man, he quit "Tonight" in tears over network censorship, which earned him a reputation as overly sensitive, at best - at worst, potentially unstable. After leaving "Tonight" in 1965, he would return to network TV twice more in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but left both with disinterest in pursuing complacent, content-free programming. His contributions to talk shows and the medium as a whole was paid fitting tribute in the years prior to his death in 2004, and his reputation as a non-conformist who made television fit to his vision remained untouched in the years that followed.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Down Among the Sheltering Palms (1953) Lt. Mike Sloan
2.
 Love Nest (1951) Ed Forbes
3.
 Footlight Varieties (1951) Himself
4.
 Walk Softly, Stranger (1950) Ray Healy
5.
 Easy Living (1949) Scoop Spooner
6.
 Variety Time (1948) Himself
8.
 Regis Philbin: Made For TV (1998) Interviewee
10.
 But... Seriously (1994)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Spent countless hours in his parents' basement reading aloud with buttons crammed in his mouth in hopes of curing his stutter, readying himself for his dream of becoming an announcer and comedian
1934:
Started as a radio announcer at the age of 16 (date approximate)
1938:
At age 20, announced the Cleveland Symphony with Artur Rodzinski for Cleveland's CBS radio station (date approximate)
:
Served in US Army, Special Forces, during World War II
1946:
Worked as a summer replacement for Jack Benny on radio's "The Jack Benny Show"
1947:
Hosted his own "The Jack Paar Show" on NBC Radio
1948:
Film debut, "Variety Time", first picture under contract to RKO
1949:
Featured in "Easy Living", an RKO vehicle starring Victor Mature
1950:
Appeared in "Walk Softly, Stranger" with Joseph Cotton
1951:
Last film with RKO, "Footlight Varieties"
1951:
Co-starred with Marilyn Monroe in "Love Nest"
1952:
Hosted "Up to Paar", an NBC-TV game show which featured contestants answering questions based on current news stories
1953:
Drew upon his real-life experience as a GI in the Pacific for "Down Among the Sheltering Palms", a 20th Century Fox comedy with Jane Greer, Mitzi Gaynor and Gloria DeHaven and songs by Harold Arlen
1953:
Hosted "Bank on the Stars", a half-hour game show in which contestants based their answers on film clips they viewed; show started out on CBS, then moved to NBC in 1954
1954:
Followed Jack Smith as the host of "Place the Face" (NBC), a game show in which contestants tried to identify someone from his or her past
1954:
Co-hosted CBS' "The Morning Show", a two-hour news-talk show
1957:
Host of "The Tonight Show" (later renamed "The Jack Paar Show"), 105-minute nightly talk show on NBC
:
Went primetime with Friday night talk-variety show "The Jack Paar Program" (NBC)
1973:
Hosted "Jack Paar Tonight", a 90-minute ABC talk-variety show co-hosted by Peggy Cass appearing under the umbrella of "ABC Late Night"
1986:
Returned to NBC after 15-year absence for the special "Jack Paar Comes Home"
1989:
Suffered a heart attack
1997:
Subject of "American Masters" (PBS) documentary "Jack Paar: As I Was Saying . . ."
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Notes

"At first, 'The Tonight Show' was live. We were an hour and 45 minutes, and we had two writers. I wanted it to be 11:30 at night. I wanted to talk softly--the feeling of people in bed. I protested when the audio levels of commercials were raised. When tape became an option after a couple of years, the networks wanted to tape the shows early. I said 8:15 pm is as early as I'll do the show. The other guys began taping in the afternoon, which is something that I think caused a great cultural difference. Who do you draw in the afternoon? You draw kids who should be in high school. And eventually, you end up trying to please them. They wouldn't care for Peter Ustinov, these kids." --Jack Paar, press release for "American Masters" presentation of "Jack Paar: As I Was Saying . . ."

"Down deep, I feel that I was misunderstood to a great extent, never given credit for the contributions I made. You know, I never won an Emmy [though recently honored for his work by the Museum of Television and Radio]. When I tell people that, they say they don't believe it. And I say, 'Would I make up something like that? I'm telling you--I never won an Emmy!' I guess the reason I never won one is that I'm allergic to bull. I've never been a joiner." --Jack Paar quoted in TV GUIDE, May 3-9, 1997

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Miriam Paar. Married in October 1943; second wife.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Howard Paar. Railroad executive.
mother:
Lillian Paar.
daughter:
Randy Paar. Lawyer. Born c. 1949.
grandson:
Andrew. Born c. 1984.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"I Kid You Not"
"My Saber is Bent"
"Three on a Toothbrush"
"P S Jack Parr"
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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