Television Academy Honors Tom Smothers With Commemorative Emmy

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 long deserved.”

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 me….fired.

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.


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