It took 40 Years, but
on Sunday, September 21st at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, during the
live television Broadcast of the 60th Annual Emmy Awards, Tom Smothers
received an Emmy acknowledging his contributions as a writer on “The
Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” in 1968.
Debuting in 1967, “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” had become as
controversial and influential as it was popular, satirizing politics, racism
and the unpopular Vietnam War among other topics. Although he was integrally
involved with the writing of the show, when it came time to submit the names
of the writers for Emmy considerations in 1968, Tom refused to include his
name for fear that he had become too controversial and it would hurt the
show’s chances of winning. The show won the Emmy for outstanding Writing
Achievement in Comedy Variety that year.
On this year’s Emmy broadcast, Steve Martin, who was one of the writers on
“The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” presented Tom with a commemorative Emmy
acknowledging his role in the writing of the politically aware,
ground-breaking variety show. In making the presentation, Steve said of Tom,
“His passion and his intelligence guided us writers, resulting in a
controversial show that was perspicacious, multifarious, and only sometimes
placatory … Tommy contributed to ‘The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour’ more
then anyone … Tommy deserved the writing award as much as we did, and
tonight The Television Academy has decided to give Tommy the award he has so
In accepting the award, Smothers used the occasion to speak out against
war and in favor of freedom of expression, noting
“There’s nothing more scary than watching ignorance in action, so I dedicate
this Emmy to all people who feel compelled to speak out, to speak to power
and won’t shut up and refuse to be silenced.”
Tom’s Emmy Acceptance Speech
Thank you….thank you,
thank you, thank you, and I thank Steve. Thank you.
I want to thank the original producers, Saul Illson and Ernie Chambers and
the writers – Mason Williams, Rob Reiner, Bob Einstein, Allan Blye, a whole
bunch of writers. I want to thank them for all the great writing that got
I’m very excited to get….The most important thing is….this is a shiny brand
new 1968 Emmy. The Emmy is given maybe not as much for writing as for
attitude because Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Speech aren’t really
important unless they’re heard.
So the Freedom I’m hearing is just about as important as the freedom of
speaking. It’s hard for me to stay silent when I keep hearing that Peace is
only obtainable through war. There is nothing more scary as watching
ignorance in action. So I dedicate this Emmy to all of the people who feel
compelled to speak out and not afraid to speak to power and won’t shut up
and refuse to be silenced.
I thank you very much and thank my brother, Dickie Smothers, for 50 years my
partner and all my life my brother. Thank you so much to the Academy.
There’s one word that exists in every language on the face of the earth and
every society from the time man began to speak and the word is Truth. It
exists in every language and it means exactly the same thing. I’d like to
remind us what it is….truth. Truth is what you get other people to believe.