When the folks at NBC decided to censor Jack Paar’s water closet joke (February 10), they must have known the Tonight Show star would be angry. After all, Paar was principled, emotional and a bit unpredictable. But evidently they didn’t gauge the depth of his anger and were certainly unprepared for his reaction. On the night after the joke was cut, February 11, 1960, the Tonight Show went on air as usual. What followed, within minutes, was one of the most unexpected and abrupt goodbyes in the history of television. After his introduction, Paar walked on stage for the live broadcast, announced that he was quitting, and walked promptly off stage, leaving announcer Hugh Downs in charge of the program with nearly 90 minutes to finish.
And he meant it. Paar was gone for three weeks, not returning to the program until NBC apologized and agreed to let him tell the joke on air.
If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month. ~ Theodore Roosevelt