Friday, January 15, 2010

Retro Friday: Conan O'Brien Edition

In 1993, NBC took a chance on an unknown TV writer named Conan O'Brien, who was tapped to replace David Letterman as the new host of its 12:30 "Late Night" franchise.

O'Brien, of course, started out shaky but eventually developed a loyal fan base. Click on the pic above to watch the opening of Conan's first show.

Above, the opening to David Letterman's final "Late Night" show in June 1993. Dave opens by joking that NBC had just named him "Employee of the Month." Conan just used the same joke on Thursday's "Tonight Show." Coincidence? Or a subtle nod by O'Brien to the fact that he's about to leave NBC under the same cloud that Letterman did?

(Check out the ending of that episode as well here. His description of the host set to replace him, Conan O'Brien, is particularly funny.)

From the first "Tonight Show with Jay Leno," Leno introduces original band leader Branford Marsalis. Wow -- back when it was a bona fide jazz ensemble.

What a cool find -- a rare black and white 1963 clip of "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."

From the very first episode of "Tonight" in 1954. Host Steve Allen warns: "This show is going to go on forever!" How true he was. (Of course, he was actually talking about the length of the show -- 11:30 to 1.) Allen also downplays the show, warning that it would be "monotonous."

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