ACLU to fete Smothers
Tom Smothers, the legendary entertainer and Kenwood resident, will be honored Friday, May 6, with the Jack Green Civil Liberties Award by the Sonoma County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
With his brother Dick, Smothers rose to national fame with the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, a ground-breaking, politically daring weekly television program that repeatedly pushed the envelope of what was then considered allowable TV commentary. Tackling topics considered controversial at the time - the Vietnam War, racism, drugs - the Smothers Brothers repeatedly battled with CBS censors who ultimately demanded to review and approve every program segment.
The show was cancelled in 1969 during its third season when the network claimed a show had not been submitted in time for prior review. The Smothers sued CBS for breach of contract and won.
While the brothers public persona has always relied on the image of Tom as a bumbling, slightly slow-witted buffoon, and Dick as the smart, responsible one, in fact Tom was the driving force behind the program.
In 2008, Tom Smothers won a special Emmy award recognizing his importance as a precedent-setting television pioneer. He said at the time of that award, "It's hard for me to stay silent when I keep hearing that peace is only obtainable through war. There is nothing more scary than watching ignorance in action ..."
Also honored will be keynote speaker Rainey Reitman, with the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, and Santa Rosa Junior College student Marjorie Coshnear, who will receive the Mario Savio Student Activist Award.
The awards dinner tonight (Friday) will be held at the Friedman Center, 4676 Mayette Ave., in Santa Rosa, beginning at 5:30 p.m., with food provided by Wine Country Catering.
Admission is $60 ($40 for low income). Call 575-9648 to inquire about last-minute tickets.