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Jack Parr kept a low public profile after turning over the reigns of The Tonight Show to Johnny Carson in 1962. Thus, his passing in January 2004, did not receive nearly the attention it deserved. The Jack Paar Collection restores the legacy of the talk-show pioneer who brought the art of conversation to the barren landscape of late-night television. Disc 1 of this three-disc set is an appreciation of Paar that combines vintage clips with reminiscences and insights from the likes of Regis Philbin, Hugh Downs, who served as Paar's announcer, Dick Cavett, one of his writers, and the Smothers Brothers, who were among the legendary performers who made their earliest TV appearances on the Tonight Show stage (there are hilarious clips featuring Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, and, from 1964, Kermit the Frog, then just a tadpole in local television). As Paar demonstrated when he quit The Tonight Show after one of his jokes was censored, anything could happen. In one hilarious clip, he fouls up a Goulet-Judy Garland duet by mixing up their cue cards. Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales observes that, unlike predecessor Steve Allen and successors Johnny Carson and Jay Leno, Jack Parr's Tonight Show combined "the edge of journalism and sparkle of showbiz." Then-Sen. John F. Kennedy was one of the first politicians who ventured into this more informal, unpredictable setting. There is amazing footage of guest Richard M. Nixon playing piano. Discs 2 and 3 present the master at work. Disc 2 contains complete monologues and guest interviews with Nixon, the boxer formerly known as Cassius Clay, Liberace, Billy Graham, and Robert Kennedy. Disc 3 offers three complete broadcasts, including a 1964 program with Cosby and Richard Burton (an added bonus is an embedded clip of Burton's towering performance as Hamlet).

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Special Features Documentary: Smart Television: The Best of Jack Paar Interviews and monologues Three complete episodes of The Jack Parr Program

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SMV34766 Jack Paar DVD Collection (1962) $29.98 $25.99