Johnny – Dean – Bob – George

Tonight Show 

George Leslie Goebel was born in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Hermann Goebel, was a butcher and grocer who had emigrated to the United States with his parents in the 1890s from the Austrian Empire. His mother, Lillian (MacDonald) Goebel, was born in Illinois to immigrant parents fromScotland. He was an only child.

George initially pursued an entertainment career as a country music singer, appearing on the National Barn Dance on WLS radio, and later on KMOX in St. Louis. He  enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II and served as a flight instructor in AT-9 aircraft at Altus, Oklahoma and later in B-26 Marauder bombers at Frederick, Oklahoma.

George was a very popular guest on various TV programs, including The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Bing Crosby Show, The Dinah Shore Show, and Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show.

In an often-replayed segment from a 1969 episode of The Tonight Show, Gobel followed Bob Hopeand Dean Martin, walking onstage with a plastic cup with an unidentified drink. Gobel ribbed Carson about coming on last and having to follow major stars Hope and Martin. He quipped to Carson, “Did you ever get the feeling that the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?”, to which Carson, Hope, Martin, and the audience came unglued with laughter.

After the laughter died down, Carson asked Gobel about his career inWorld War II as a fighter pilot. Gobel feigned bewilderment at why people laugh when he says that he spent the war in Oklahoma, pointing out that no Japanese plane ever got past Tulsa. Gobel also began to get some unexpected laughs, being unaware that Dean Martin had begun flicking his cigarette ashes into Gobel’s drink. Observing all of this, Carson finally asked rhetorically, “Exactly what time did I lose control of the show?!”

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