This Day In 1971: Introducing The Sonny And Cher Comedy Hour

Wednesday, December 27, 2017
This Day in Music

46 years ago, The Sonny And Cher Comedy Hour officially transformed from a summer replacement series into a proper member of CBS’s prime-time lineup.

Kids, sit down and let us regale you with a story of prime-time television in the early 1970s. Oh, it was a glorious time, filled with no end of variety shows, many of which existed solely for the duration of the summer. These summer replacement series were generally created out of thin air and developed for whoever the latest “next big thing” might be at any given moment, including The Ken Berry ‘Wow’ Show and The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, and were designed just to fill the void until the kick-off of the new fall season.

When The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour first arrived on CBS, it was as one of these summer replacement series. During those initial episodes in the summer of ’71, however, the husband-and-wife duo won over audiences to such a degree that the network decided that the show was worth bringing back for another round of episodes, but this time they’d start in December.

On December 22, Sonny and Cher opened their first new show by singing "All I Ever Need Is You" and reminisced about their summer show and talked about the holidays, setting the stage for the rest of the episode. During the course of the hour, guest star Glenn Ford gave Sonny a citation for overacting, Cher played Nefertiti against Harvey Korman as King Tut, the cast performed an operatic version of the then-new series All in the Family, one which is stopped in its tracks by the CBS censor, played by – who else? – Carroll O’Connor. Viewers were also treated to performances of “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” “One Tin Soldier,” and a medley of “Love Grows” and “Where You Lead.”

The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour was a smash as a regular series and stuck around for several more years. The marriage between the couple may not have survived, but the show’s legacy as fun, freewheeling ‘70s entertainment remains strong even now.

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