Tom Snyder (born May 12, 1936 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) was raised Roman Catholic, graduated from Marquette University High School, and gained national fame as the host of Tomorrow with Tom Snyder (more commonly known as The Tomorrow Show), which aired late-nights after The Tonight Show on NBC from 1973-82. It was a talk-show unlike the usual late-night fare, with Snyder alternating between asking hard-hitting questions without pulling punches, and offering personal observations that made the interview closer to a conversation. When not grilling guests, Tom would often joke around with off-stage crewmen, often breaking out in a distinctively hearty laugh that was the basis of Dan Aykroyd's impersonation of Snyder on Saturday Night Live. Snyder was also the basis of the cartoon "Tom Morrow," which appeared in Playboy in the late 1970s.
Peak moments with Snyder on Tomorrow included John Lennon's final televised interview, in April 1975 (replayed in December 1980 as a tribute to Lennon, and later released on home video), U2's first American television appearance in June 1981. Bizzare moments included 1979 appearances by punk singer Johnny Rotten and Chicago shock-jock Steve Dahl, and a 1980 appearance by rock band The Plasmatics during which lead singer Wendy O. Williams blew up a TV in the studio; the explosion disrupted a live broadcast of NBC Nightly News being produced in a studio two floors above. Tom himself referred to this occurrence on a 1981 followup appearance in which the Plasmatics demolished a car. The show was cancelled in 1982 to make room for up-and-coming young comedian David Letterman, following a disastrous experiment with turning Tomorrow into a more typical talk show, renaming the show Tomorrow Coast to Coast, adding a live audience and co-host Rona Barrett, all of which Snyder resented.
Soon after the cancellation of The Tomorrow Show, Snyder worked as a New York news anchor on WABC-TV's Eyewitness News. In 1985, he returned to the talk format at KABC-TV in Los Angeles, with a local afternoon show he had planned to gear up for national syndication the following year; those plans were scratched after Oprah Winfrey's Chicago-based show entered the market first and took over Snyder's time slot on KABC-TV.
An older, slightly more mellow Tom returned to virtually the same format on ABC Radio in the late 1980s, then to television on CNBC in the early '90s, adding the opportunity for viewers to call in with their own questions for his guests. Snyder nicknamed his show "the Colorcast," reviving an old promotional term NBC-TV used in the early 1960s to hype its color broadcasts. Meanwhile, Letterman had moved on to CBS and was given control of creating a new program to follow his at 12:35 am; Lettermanâ€”who had idolized Snyder for yearsâ€”hired Snyder in 1995 as host of The Late Late Show. (The idea had actually begun as a running joke on Letterman's show, that Snyder would soon follow him on the air as he'd once followed Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, and the unlikely idea caught on.) This show aired live on the East Coast and was simulcast to other time zones on radio to allow everyone a chance to call in. (Snyder's CNBC show was taken over, largely unchanged in format, by Charles Grodin.) Snyder left The Late Late Show in 1999, which was then reformatted for new host Craig Kilborn.
Tom posted regular messages on his own website, colortini.com, during the early 2000s. A "colortini," according to Tom in the CNBC era, was the drink you should enjoy while watching the show ("Fire up a colortini, sit back, relax, and watch the pictures, now, as they fly through the air."). For the CBS show, he redubbed the mythical drink a "simultini." In April, 2005, Snyder revealed that he is battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia, but that his doctors had told him it is "treatable".
On July 28, 2005, Tom announced he was deleting his website after six years, stating: "The novelty of communicating this way has worn off". On August 1, 2005, (see colortini.com) his page was abruptly taken offline. The front page was replaced with "Colortini is gone. Thanks for the Memories."