At the beginning of a live commercial for a sponsor's cigarette, Paar took a drag off the cigarette, exhaled a plume of smoke, faced the camera and said "Man, that's great coffee."
One of his first TV hosting jobs was on the game show Up to Paar (1952). Around the same time, he had a minor role as Marilyn Monroe's boyfriend in Love Nest (1951), one of her early films.
His TV late-night show helped ignite the careers of Carol Burnett, Woody Allen and Liza Minnelli. He also made solid enemies of columnists Dorothy Kilgallen and Walter Winchell.
An intelligent, prodding host during his heyday, he sparked international incidents after interviewing Fidel Castro in Cuba and doing his show from Berlin as the wall went up. On the positive side, he scored very well with his audiences and the behind-the-scenes executives discussing religion with Billy Graham, visiting Albert Schweitzer in Africa and for his political bantering with Richard Nixon.
In 1998 he underwent triple heart bypass surgery, complicated by an embolism discovered during the operation. In March of 2003 he suffered a mild stroke.
Started off in broadcasting as a radio announcer in Cleveland and the Midwest. During World War II he entertained troops in the South Pacific with his parodies of military brass, but didn't become a radio star until the post-war years as a summer replacement on Jack Benny's radio show.
He and his wife, Miriam, had a daughter named Randy.
In 1960 he abruptly quit the show four minutes into programming after discovering that a joke of his that included the words "WC", meaning water closet (a polite term for a flush toilet) had been censored. As he left his desk, he said, "I am leaving [The Tonight Show Starring Jack Parr (1957)]. There must be a better way of making a living than this." Several weeks later, after a formal apology from the NBC network executives, he triumphantly returned to a standing ovation from the audience. The first words he spoke were, "As I was saying before I was interrupted . . . ".
Popularized the phrase "I kid you not . . ." with which he regularly certified his flow of self-revealing stories as host of The Tonight Show Starring Jack Parr (1957).
Cured himself of a stutter by putting buttons in his mouth and reading aloud.
He suffered from tuberculosis as a child and later worked on a railroad gang to build himself up.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 409-411. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
Has one grandson.