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Radio comedian Jack Paar made his first television appearance in Up To Paar on CBS from 28 July to 26 September 1952. He then emceed Bank On The Stars for a short time in the summer of 1953.
The Jack Paar Show for CBS opened on 11 November 1953 and was aired once a week in the morning. From 4 July 1955 to 24 May 1956 it was telecast at lunchtime, every day.
In line with its efforts to elevate the quality of daytime TV, CBS lavished a good supporting cast on Paar. The show had two fine singers in Edith Adams (formerly of the Ernie Kovacs TV troupe) and Richard Hayes, a top recording artist. Each had a good comedy sense and worked so well with Paar that the skits sometimes seemed completely ad libbed.
Also appearing was orchestra leader Pupi Campo, a Cuban with a striking resemblance to Desi Arnaz.
Paar’s Morning Show on the same network was aired every morning from August 1954 to July 1955. In the summer of 1954, he was a panellist on Masquerade Party and for one month in the summer of 1955, he substituted for the vacationing Arthur Godfrey on his Talent Scouts program.
In 1956, he made four guest host appearances on Tonight. NBC presented Tonight Starring Jack Paar on 29 July 1957. The show and its star became such hits that the show’s title was changed to The Jack Paar Show.
The show was informal as Paar and his regulars – Dody Goodman, Hugh Downs, French chanteuse, Genevieve, Mount Idy’s most illustrious son, Charlie Weaver (Cliff Arquette), pianist, Jose Melis and self-styled Italian, Guido Panzini (Pat Harrington, Jr.) – performed and chatted with assorted guests, including Hermione Gingold, Hans Conreid, Gypsy Rose Lee and Peter Ustinov, with hilarious results.
Paar’s sit down “talk” sessions with Elsa Maxwell, Minnie Guggenheim, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Alexander King provide some of the program’s most explosive moments.
There were songs and sketches on the show but the unrehearsed conversations made the program the hit that it was.