It was on this day in 1954 that Tonight! premiered on national TV. Originally hosted by Steve Allen, the show was broadcast live until the beginning of 1959. Allen’s approach to late night entertainment…an opening monologue, interviews with celebrities, guest musicians, cameras going outside the studio…are now considered standard procedures for talk shows. In June of 1956 Allen was given a Sunday night variety show, which resulted in Ernie Kovacs hosting Tonight on Mondays and Tuesdays. Seven months later the network asked Steve Allen to focus only on that Sunday show, and both him and Kovacs left to do so. The network then re-vamped the show’s focus to be more towards news, renaming it Tonight! America After Dark but that wasn’t well received. NBC hired Jack Paar to bring back the original formula, with it later being renamed The Tonight Show. Other hosts over the years have been Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, and Conan O’Brien.
The earliest event that Wiki says happened on this day is “489 –Odoacer attacks Theodoric at the Battle of Verona, and is defeated again” and the most recent is “2008 – CNSA astronaut Zhai Zhigang becomes the first Chinese person to perform a spacewalk while flying on Shenzhou 7.”
A few other things that also took place on this day are:
1540 – Pope Paul III grants a charter to the Society of Jesus.
1777 – Lancaster, PA becomes the capital of the US. The next day it will move to York, PA.
1964 – The Beach Boys play on The Ed Sullivan Show, their first TV appearance.
Happy birthday to Shaun Cassidy, Greg Ham, Meat Loaf, Liz Torres, Randy Bachman, Don Cornelius, and Wilford Brimley.