Allen to Fallon: 'Tonight Show' hits 60th anniversary


By MORGAN WHITAKER

Long before Jimmy Fallon ushered in a new era of the "Tonight Show" with the "Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing" and years before we even heard "here's Johnny," a comedian named Steve Allen launched what would become an iconic program on September 27, 1954.

When "Tonight starring Steve Allen" debuted on network television six decades ago only about half of all Americans homes had TVs, compared to upwards of 95 percent today.

Allen helmed the fledgling NBC late night comedy show for three years, before passing the reins to Jack Paar for the next five years.

In 1962 Johnny Carson began a 30-year run as host of the show, quickly becoming a fixture in American pop culture and comedy with popular segments ranging from Johnny's Animal Planet to Carnac the Magnificent.

Jay Leno took over hosting duties in 1992, beginning a run that lasted more than two decades -- if you ignore the interruption when NBC executives briefly gave the hosting gig to Conan O'Brien before they decided they had made a mistake and shoved O'Brien out again.

Leno handed the program off a little less begrudgingly to Fallon this January, who has since led the show into a more digitally-focused era with a strong web presence and tons of YouTube hits.

In addition to our favorite images of the last sixty years of "Tonight Show" history above, be sure to check out some of the top video clips from the show below.