The Smothers Brothers: Pete Seeger

The Smothers Brothers: Pete Seeger

The Smothers Brothers were a folk music comedy duo, most popular in the 1960s when they hosted their own CBS variety show The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. They recently donated their papers to the National Museum of American History’s
Archives Center. For more than 150 years, entertainment
has generated important national conversations about what
kind of people we were, are, and want to be. These papers reveal both the story
of the Smothers Brothers and the story of a changing America
at the end of the sixties. Pete Seeger appeared on the Comedy Hour
in September 1967. A folk singer and political activist,
Seeger was blacklisted from network TV in the 1950s for
Communist affiliations. However, CBS eventually allowed the Smothers Brothers to feature Seeger on the second season premiere. Before the show even aired, there was an enormous reaction to Pete Seeger appearing as a guest. Letters arrived by the thousands, expressing both anger at and support
for Seeger’s appearance. More than one in five TV households watched as Pete Seeger returned to mainstream television on the Comedy Hour. One of his songs was cut from the
show by CBS censors, “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy,” an allegorical critique of the Vietnam War. It wasn’t the first time CBS censored The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and it wouldn’t be the last. But the real censorship showdown was still to come…

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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