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#6965: TONIGHT! STARRING STEVE ALLEN
1954-09-27, WRCA, 43 min.
Steve Allen, Steve Lawrence, Skitch Henderson, Gene Rayburn, Eydie Gorme, Pat Marshall

September 27,1954-January 25,1957 
Tonight! starring Steve Allen begins airing locally at 11:15pm, for 15 minutes, sponsored by Knickerbocker Beer. From 11:30 to 1:00am the broadcast aired nationally. 

The basic format of The Tonight Show was established during Allen's tenure: an opening monologue, a segment involving the studio audience (through interviews or games such as "Stump the Band"), and a simple set (a desk and chair for the host, a couch for the guests) were all trademarks of the Allen era. Allen inaugurated the out-of-town broadcast (the first one was done from Miami), the one guest show (Carl Sandburg was the first solo guest), and the one topic show (entire programs were devoted to such subjects as narcotics, civil rights, and black music). Allen also established the practice of paying his guests only "scale," the minimum fee required by union-network contract (this practice led to a highly publicized  feud between Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan and later between Jack Paar and Ed Sullivan, as Sullivan paid top dollar for his guests). Though Allen's Tonight! show closely resembled the shows of his successors, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson, it was a more musical show; Allen himself was an accomplished musician and composer (he wrote his theme, "This Could Be The Start of Something Big"), and he employed a nucleus of musical regulars on his show. In addition to announcer – sidekick Gene Rayburn, the show featured singers Steve Lawrence (who was only seventeen when he began singing on Allen's local show), Eydie Gormé (who subsequently married Steve Lawrence), Andy Williams (who later hosted several series of his own), and Pat Marshall (who was succeeded by Pat Kirby).  Skitch Henderson led the Orchestra. 

Steve Allen makes his network television Tonight! Show debut. The broadcast accents comedy, song & music. News & sports are handled by Gene Rayburn.                                                                

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