Dick Smothers

The younger, "smarter," and according to brother and longtime performing partner Tom, the "one that Mom always liked best," Dick Smothers was one half of the popular music-comedy duo, The Smothers Brothers. Launched as a folk act in 1959, Dick and Tom soon won over audiences by adding comic bits between the songs, usually focused around their alleged sibling rivalry. Their popularity on stage led to appearances on television and their own network series, "The Smothers Brothers Show" (CBS, 1965-66). But it was their next TV attempt that elevated the brothers from mainstream comedians to political satirists and counterculture heroes. "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" (CBS, 1967-1969) was earmarked by fierce jabs at all manner of social and political ills, which raised the hackles of their parent company. The brothers' choice of musical guests, which were culled from the cream of the rock and folk movements of the period, put them in deeper hot water with the powers that be. "The Comedy Hour" was eventually cancelled by the network, and the duo would spend much of the next 20 years attempting to recapture that series' lightning-in-a-bottle energy in subsequent efforts. In between guest appearances and live dates with his brother, Dick Smothers also enjoyed a career as a solo actor, which included a fine supporting turn in Martin Scorsese's "Casino" (1995) as a crooked Nevada senator, as well as an amateur drag racer. His lasting legacy, however, was as both a popular entertainer and one of the most active supporters of free speech and political discourse in television history.