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S35 Ep4

Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story

Premiere: 4/2/2021 | 00:01:48 |

After more than 30 years as the colorful bandleader of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, master trumpeter Doc Severinsen continues to defy nature well into his 90s with a grueling schedule of touring, performing and teaching. An engaging new documentary, Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story, traces the life and groundbreaking career of the unstoppable musical icon.

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About the Episode

After more than 30 years as the colorful bandleader of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, master trumpeter Doc Severinsen continues to defy nature well into his 90s with a grueling schedule of touring, performing and teaching. An engaging new documentary, Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story, traces the life and groundbreaking career of the unstoppable musical icon, revealing his personal trials and underscoring a remarkable journey of inspiration and obsession.

The film features original interviews with friends, colleagues and famous fans inspired by the music icon, including Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon bandleader Questlove, master trumpeters Chris Botti and Arturo Sandoval and comedians Bob Saget and Martin Mull, as well as intimate conversations with the irreverent, irrepressible Severinsen and his family members. Archival and vibrant new concert footage along with hilarious clips from The Tonight Show showcase Severinsen’s unparalleled musical virtuosity and comedic flair.

The son of a dentist, Carl H “Little Doc” Severinsen was born in 1927 in rural Oregon and quickly became obsessed with the trumpet, wining the Music Educator’s National Contest at the age of 12. The film traces the musician’s childhood, early marriages and fledgling career in big band, leading to his incredible, decades-long tenure on The Tonight Show where he became beloved by millions of American viewers for his unforgettably flashy wardrobe, fearless leadership of the band and camaraderie with host Johnny Carson.

In 1992, when Carson retired from The Tonight Show, Severinsen moved to Mexico with his third wife. However, the band leader couldn’t give up performing; he even formed a new band, The San Miguel Five. The nonstop touring ultimately ended his marriage. Severinsen shares a glimpse into his new life with trumpet player Cathy Leach, someone who loves the trumpet as much as he does and understands his passion to play.

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Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story is a production of Just Bright Productions in association with American Masters Pictures. Kevin S. Bright and Jeff Consiglio are directors. Kevin S. Bright is executive producer. Ariana Garfinkel and Jeff Consiglio are producers, Nancy Severinsen is co-producer, and Brad Allgood is editor. Michael Kantor is executive producer of American Masters.

About American Masters
Launched in 1986 on PBS, American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 14 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards, and many other honors. To further explore the lives and works of masters past and present, American Masters offers streaming video of select films, outtakes, filmmaker interviews, the American Masters Podcast, educational resources and more. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and also seen on the WORLD channel. The series is available for streaming simultaneously on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. PBS station members can view episodes via Passport (contact your local PBS station for details).

About WNET
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station: parent company of New York’s THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its new ALL ARTS multi-platform initiative, its broadcast channels, three cable services (THIRTEEN PBSKids, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each month. WNET produces and presents a wide range of acclaimed PBS series, including NATURE, GREAT PERFORMANCES, AMERICAN MASTERS, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND, and the nightly interview program AMANPOUR AND COMPANY. In addition, WNET produces numerous documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings, as well as multi-platform initiatives addressing poverty and climate. Through THIRTEEN Passport and WLIW Passport, station members can stream new and archival THIRTEEN, WLIW and PBS programming anytime, anywhere.