STEVE ALLEN first hosted Tonight on New York's WNBT in June of 1953; the local show went national on the NBC network on September 27, 1954. Allen's show was done live and featured the multi-talented host playing piano, joking with the audience and doing comedy sketches with guest stars. (Allen's announcer was Gene Rayburn, later the host of the game show The Match Game.)
In 1956, Allen began a separate prime-time show and hosted Tonight only Wednesday through Friday nights. Mondays and Tuesdays were handled by a series of guest hosts, including avant-garde comedian Ernie Kovacs. Steve Allen stepped down for good in January of 1957.