JAMESTOWN – Iconic comedic artifacts, creative papers and legal documents were donated to the National Comedy Center Monday by the Smothers Brothers.
The duo’s iconic red suit jackets, Tom Smothers’ guitar, Dick Smothers’ bass, scripts, creative papers, a letter from President Lyndon Johnson which was read by the pair on their TV Show are all part of the collection.
“Before it would be just a line of pictures,” said Dick Smothers when asked what the new exhibit meant to him. “Museums are not dead they are alive, but they are not moving though, you can’t change the exhibit, each one is perfectly hand crafted and people that love us and say: ‘I wanna see these guys,’ they go back if they are older to their memories, and if they are younger they get to see performers that are long dead, but they are not dead, they are passed on.”
Additionally, legal documents from the group’s 1970 lawsuit against CBS will be included in the display.
The brother’s sued CBS after their iconic show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, was canceled by the network. At the time, CBS executives said the pair “failed to deliver an advance tape of a sensitive segment in a timely fashion” and axed the program.
The brother’s censorship originated from a back and fourth with then President Lyndon B. Johnson and eventually successor President Richard Nixon over the Vietnam War. Critics of the conflict and conservative establishment; most of the show focused on humors skits mocking wartime policies.
The two sued CBS for breach of contract. In 1973, a jury found in their favor and ordered CBS to pay the comedic duo more than $776,000.
“When you have your own show, I found myself speaking up for things you’ve never thought about, they were just ethically correct, morally right,” explained Tom Smothers. “Then all of a sudden we were in trouble and it turned out, it made us famous.”
This year marked fifty years since the historic case and firing from the network.