OT: Johnny Carson, late-night TV legend, dead at 79

Discussion in 'Food and nutrition' started by Yeff, Jan 23, 2005.

  1. Yeff

    Yeff Guest

    <http://www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/TV/01/23/obit.carson.ap/index.html>

    Johnny Carson, the "Tonight Show" TV host who served America a smooth
    nightcap of celebrity banter, droll comedy and heartland charm for 30
    years, has died. He was 79.

    "Mr. Carson passed away peacefully early Sunday morning," his nephew, Jeff
    Sotzing, told The Associated Press. "He was surrounded by his family, whose
    loss will be immeasurable. There will be no memorial service."

    Sotzing would not give further details, including the time of death or the
    location.

    The boyish-looking Nebraska native with the disarming grin, who survived
    every attempt to topple him from his late-night talk show throne, was a
    star who managed never to distance himself from his audience.

    His wealth, the adoration of his guests -- particularly the many young
    comics whose careers he launched -- the wry tales of multiple divorces:
    Carson's air of modesty made it all serve to enhance his bedtime intimacy
    with viewers.

    "Heeeeere's Johnny!" was the booming announcement from sidekick Ed McMahon
    that ushered Carson out to the stage. Then the formula: the topical
    monologue, the guests, the broadly played skits such as "Carnac the
    Magnificent."

    But America never tired of him; Carson went out on top when he retired in
    May 1992. In his final show, he told his audience: "And so it has come to
    this. I am one of the lucky people in the world. I found something that I
    always wanted to do and I have enjoyed every single minute of it."

    His personal life could not match the perfection of his career. Carson was
    married four times, divorced three. In 1991, one of his three sons,
    39-year-old Ricky, was killed in a car accident.

    Nearly all of Carson's professional life was spent in television, from his
    postwar start at Nebraska stations in the late 1940s to his three decades
    with NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."

    Carson choose to let "Tonight" stand as his career zenith and his finale,
    withdrawing into a quiet retirement that suited his private nature and
    refusing involvement in other show business projects.

    In 1993, he explained his absence from the limelight.

    "I have an ego like anybody else," Carson told The Washington Post, "but I
    don't need to be stoked by going before the public all the time."

    He was open to finding the right follow-up to "Tonight," he told friends.
    But his longtime producer, Fred de Cordova, said Carson didn't feel
    pressured -- he could look back on his TV success and say "I did it."

    "And that makes sense. He is one of a kind, was one of a kind," de Cordova
    said in 1995. "I don't think there's any reason for him to try something
    different."

    Carson spent his retirement years sailing, traveling and socializing with a
    few close friends including media mogul Barry Diller and NBC executive Bob
    Wright. He simply refused to be wooed back on stage.

    "The reason I really don't go back or do interviews is because I just let
    the work speak for itself," he told Esquire magazine in 2002 in a rare
    interview.

    The former talk show host did find an outlet for his creativity: He wrote
    short humor pieces for The New Yorker magazine, including "Recently
    Discovered Childhood Letters to Santa," which purported to give the
    youthful wish lists of William Buckley, Don Rickles and others.

    Carson made his debut as "Tonight" host in October 1962. Audiences quickly
    grew fond of his boyish grin and easy wit. He even made headlines with such
    clever ploys as the 1969 on-show marriage of eccentric singer Tiny Tim to
    Miss Vicki, which won the show its biggest-ever ratings.

    The wedding and other noteworthy moments from the show were collected into
    a yearly "Tonight" anniversary special.

    In 1972, "Tonight" moved from New York to Burbank. Growing respect for
    Carson's consistency and staying power, along with four consecutive Emmy
    Awards, came his way in the late 1970s.

    His quickness and his ability to handle an audience were impressive. When
    his jokes missed their target, the smooth Carson won over a groaning studio
    audience with a clever look or sly, self-deprecating remark.

    Politics provided monologue fodder for him as he skewered lawmakers of
    every stripe, mirroring the mood of voters. His Watergate jabs at President
    Nixon were seen as cementing Nixon's fall from office in 1974.

    He made presidential history again in July 1988 when he had then-Arkansas
    Gov. Bill Clinton on his show a few days after Clinton came under
    widespread ridicule for a boring speech at the Democratic National
    Convention. Clinton traded quips with Carson and played "Summertime" on the
    saxophone. Four years later, Clinton won the presidency.

    Carson dispatched would-be late-night competitors with aplomb. Competing
    networks tried a variety of formats and hosts but never managed to best
    "Tonight" and Carson.

    There was the occasional battle with NBC: In 1967, for instance, Carson
    walked out for several weeks until the network managed to lure him back
    with a contract that reportedly gave him $1 million-plus yearly.

    In 1980, after more walkout threats, the show was scaled back from 90
    minutes to an hour. Carson also eased his schedule by cutting back on his
    work days; a number of substitute hosts filled in, including Joan Rivers,
    David Brenner, Jerry Lewis and Jay Leno, Carson's eventual successor.

    Rivers was one of the countless comedians whose careers took off after they
    were on Carson's show. After she rocked the audience with her jokes in that
    1965 appearance, he remarked, "God, you're funny. You're going to be a
    star."

    "If Johnny hadn't made the choice to put me on his show, I might still be
    in Greenwich Village as the oldest living undiscovered female comic," she
    recalled in an Associated Press interview 20 years later. She tried her own
    talk show in 1986, quickly becoming one of the many challengers who could
    not budge Carson.

    In the '80s, Carson was reportedly the highest-paid performer in television
    history with a $5 million "Tonight" show salary alone.

    His Carson Productions created and sold pilots to NBC, including "TV's
    Bloopers and Practical Jokes." Carson himself made occasional cameo
    appearances on other TV series.

    He also performed in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, New Jersey, and was host
    of the Academy Awards five times in the '70s and '80s.

    Carson's graceful exit from "Tonight" did not avoid a messy, bitter
    tug-of-war between Leno and fellow comedian David Letterman. Leno took over
    as "Tonight" host on May 25, 1992, becoming the fourth man to hold the job
    after founding host Steve Allen, Paar and Carson.

    Carson was born in Corning, Iowa, and raised in nearby Norfolk, Neb. He
    started his show business career at age 14 as the magician "The Great
    Carsoni."

    After World War II service in the Navy, he took a series of jobs in local
    radio and TV in Nebraska before starting at KNXT-TV in Los Angeles in 1950.

    There he started a sketch comedy show, "Carson's Cellar," which ran from
    1951-53 and attracted attention from Hollywood. A staff writing job for
    "The Red Skelton Show" followed.

    The program provided Carson with a lucky break: When Skelton was injured
    backstage, Carson took the comedian's place in front of the cameras.

    Producers tried to find the right program for the up-and-coming comic,
    trying him out as host of the quiz show "Earn Your Vacation" (1954) and in
    the variety show "The Johnny Carson Show" (1955-56).

    From 1957-62 he was host of the daytime game show "Who Do You Trust?" and,
    in 1958, was joined for the first time by McMahon, his durable "Tonight"
    buddy.

    A few acting roles came Carson's way, including one on "Playhouse 90" in
    1957, and he did a pilot in 1960 for a prime-time series, "Johnny Come
    Lately," that never made it onto a network schedule.

    In 1958, Carson sat in for "Tonight Show" host Jack Paar. When Paar left
    the show four years later, Carson was NBC's choice as his replacement.

    After his retirement, Carson took on the role of Malibu-based retiree with
    apparent ease. An avid tennis fan, he was still playing a vigorous game in
    his 70s.

    He and his wife, Alexis, traveled frequently. The pair met on the Malibu
    beach in the early 1980s; he was 61 when they married in June 1987, she was
    in her 30s.

    Carson's first wife was his childhood sweetheart, Jody, the mother of his
    three sons. They married in 1949 and split in 1963.

    He married Joanne Copeland Carson in 1963; divorce came in 1972. His third
    marriage, to Joanna Holland Carson, took place in 1972. They separated in
    1982 and reached a divorce settlement in 1985.

    On the occasion of Carson's 70th birthday in 1995, former "Tonight"
    bandleader Doc Severinsen, who toured with musicians from the show, said he
    was constantly reminded of Carson's enduring popularity.

    "Every place we go people ask `How is he? Where is he? What is he doing?
    Tell him how much we miss him.' It doesn't surprise me," Severinsen said.

    The brisk sale of the video collection "Johnny Carson: His Favorite Moments
    From The Tonight Show," released in 1994, offered further proof of his
    appeal.

    He won a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian
    honor, in 1992, with the first President Bush saying, "With decency and
    style he's made America laugh and think." In 1993, he was celebrated by the
    prestigious Kennedy Center Honors for career achievement.

    -----

    --

    -Jeff B.
    zoomie at fastmail dot fm
     
    Tags:


  2. jmcquown

    jmcquown Guest

    Yeff wrote:
    > <http://www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/TV/01/23/obit.carson.ap/index.html>
    >
    > Johnny Carson, the "Tonight Show" TV host who served America a smooth
    > nightcap of celebrity banter, droll comedy and heartland charm for 30
    > years, has died. He was 79.
    >

    (snipped history)

    Oh man, he will certainly be missed. He sure did introduce a lot of
    newcomers to the scene. Leno has nothing on Carson.

    Jill
     
  3. "jmcquown" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    >
    > Oh man, he will certainly be missed. He sure did introduce a lot of
    > newcomers to the scene. Leno has nothing on Carson.
    >
    > Jill


    Carson kept me up late many nights over the years. He certainly was tops.
    No one today comes even close to his easy, likable humor. .
     
  4. Sheryl  Rosen

    Sheryl Rosen Guest

    Edwin Pawlowski at [email protected] wrote on 1/23/05 4:42 PM:

    >
    > "jmcquown" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    >>
    >> Oh man, he will certainly be missed. He sure did introduce a lot of
    >> newcomers to the scene. Leno has nothing on Carson.
    >>
    >> Jill

    >
    > Carson kept me up late many nights over the years. He certainly was tops.
    > No one today comes even close to his easy, likable humor. .
    >
    >


    Johnny Carson was one of a kind, truly a legend on tv and no one will ever
    come close to the type of class, humility and affability he displayed, night
    after night. Unlike so many of today's tv hosts, Johnny Carson understood
    his place in an interview...he knew when to talk, and more importantly, when
    to shut up and let his guest do the talking.

    Many have tried to duplicate what he did for 30 years on the Tonight Show,
    no one has ever, or will ever come close. Without Johnny, there would have
    been no Jay Leno, no David Letterman...no Joan Rivers. No Jerry Seinfeld.
    Some may argue that wouldn't have been a tremendous loss...but you can't
    discount the impact Johnny Carson had on the entertainment industry during
    his 30 years of reign over late night television.

    I've missed him the past 12+ years since he's been off television.
    His passing today just makes me sad.
     
  5. Steve Calvin

    Steve Calvin Guest

    Edwin Pawlowski wrote:
    > "jmcquown" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    >
    >>Oh man, he will certainly be missed. He sure did introduce a lot of
    >>newcomers to the scene. Leno has nothing on Carson.
    >>
    >>Jill

    >
    >
    > Carson kept me up late many nights over the years. He certainly was tops.
    > No one today comes even close to his easy, likable humor. .
    >
    >

    aw man, he was the best. I haven't stayed up for late night since he
    left the show.

    --
    Steve

    Ever wonder about those people who spend $2.00 apiece on those little
    bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backwards...
     
  6. Ruddell

    Ruddell Guest

    In <[email protected]> jmcquown wrote:

    > (snipped history)
    >
    > Oh man, he will certainly be missed. He sure did introduce a lot of
    > newcomers to the scene. Leno has nothing on Carson.


    Carson was one of the great ones. But you must remember, Leno was
    handpicked by Johnny and most everyone expected Letterman to be his
    replacement. Without doubt, Carson made the right decision...

    --
    Cheers

    Dennis

    Remove 'Elle-Kabong' to reply
     
  7. Steve Calvin

    Steve Calvin Guest

    Ruddell wrote:
    > In <[email protected]> jmcquown wrote:
    >
    >
    >>(snipped history)
    >>
    >>Oh man, he will certainly be missed. He sure did introduce a lot of
    >>newcomers to the scene. Leno has nothing on Carson.

    >
    >
    > Carson was one of the great ones. But you must remember, Leno was
    > handpicked by Johnny and most everyone expected Letterman to be his
    > replacement. Without doubt, Carson made the right decision...
    >


    Actually, not. Carson wanted Letterman to be his replacement and lost
    which is why he wrote material for Letterman after he left and had
    nothing much to do with Leno.

    --
    Steve

    Ever wonder about those people who spend $2.00 apiece on those little
    bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backwards...
     
  8. Steve Calvin

    Steve Calvin Guest

    Ruddell wrote:
    > In <[email protected]> jmcquown wrote:
    >
    >
    >>(snipped history)
    >>
    >>Oh man, he will certainly be missed. He sure did introduce a lot of
    >>newcomers to the scene. Leno has nothing on Carson.

    >
    >
    > Carson was one of the great ones. But you must remember, Leno was
    > handpicked by Johnny and most everyone expected Letterman to be his
    > replacement. Without doubt, Carson made the right decision...
    >


    Actually, not. Carson wanted Letterman to be his replacement and lost
    which is why he wrote material for Letterman after he left and had
    nothing much to do with Leno.

    --
    Steve

    Ever wonder about those people who spend $2.00 apiece on those little
    bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backwards...
     
  9. sf

    sf Guest

    On Sun, 23 Jan 2005 14:55:19 -0600, "jmcquown"
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Oh man, he will certainly be missed.


    How can he be missed any more than he was already missed?
    He became a virtual recluse, in show business terms, and we
    didn't see him after he retired from late night TV.

    sf
     
  10. sf

    sf Guest

    On Sun, 23 Jan 2005 14:55:19 -0600, "jmcquown"
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Oh man, he will certainly be missed.


    How can he be missed any more than he was already missed?
    He became a virtual recluse, in show business terms, and we
    didn't see him after he retired from late night TV.

    sf
     
  11. Damsel

    Damsel Guest

    On Sun, 23 Jan 2005 16:13:08 -0800, sf <[email protected]> wrote:

    >On Sun, 23 Jan 2005 14:55:19 -0600, "jmcquown"
    ><[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >> Oh man, he will certainly be missed.

    >
    >How can he be missed any more than he was already missed?
    >He became a virtual recluse, in show business terms, and we
    >didn't see him after he retired from late night TV.


    He was on Entertainment Tonight late last week, and they were talking about
    how he was writing for Letterman. So this came as a big surprise to me.

    Carol
    --
    "Years ago my mother used to say to me... She'd say,
    'In this world Elwood, you must be oh-so smart or oh-so pleasant.'
    Well, for years I was smart.... I recommend pleasant. You may quote me."

    *James Stewart* in the 1950 movie, _Harvey_
     
  12. Damsel

    Damsel Guest

    On Sun, 23 Jan 2005 16:13:08 -0800, sf <[email protected]> wrote:

    >On Sun, 23 Jan 2005 14:55:19 -0600, "jmcquown"
    ><[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >> Oh man, he will certainly be missed.

    >
    >How can he be missed any more than he was already missed?
    >He became a virtual recluse, in show business terms, and we
    >didn't see him after he retired from late night TV.


    He was on Entertainment Tonight late last week, and they were talking about
    how he was writing for Letterman. So this came as a big surprise to me.

    Carol
    --
    "Years ago my mother used to say to me... She'd say,
    'In this world Elwood, you must be oh-so smart or oh-so pleasant.'
    Well, for years I was smart.... I recommend pleasant. You may quote me."

    *James Stewart* in the 1950 movie, _Harvey_
     
  13. notbob

    notbob Guest

    On 2005-01-24, Damsel <[email protected]> wrote:

    > He was on Entertainment Tonight late last week, and they were talking about
    > how he was writing for Letterman. So this came as a big surprise to me.


    .....and boy, was he ever bloated. Looked almost as big as Jerry Lewis.

    nb
     
  14. notbob

    notbob Guest

    On 2005-01-24, Damsel <[email protected]> wrote:

    > He was on Entertainment Tonight late last week, and they were talking about
    > how he was writing for Letterman. So this came as a big surprise to me.


    .....and boy, was he ever bloated. Looked almost as big as Jerry Lewis.

    nb
     
  15. Damsel

    Damsel Guest

    On Sun, 23 Jan 2005 20:19:09 -0600, notbob <[email protected]> wrote:

    >On 2005-01-24, Damsel <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >> He was on Entertainment Tonight late last week, and they were talking about
    >> how he was writing for Letterman. So this came as a big surprise to me.

    >
    >....and boy, was he ever bloated. Looked almost as big as Jerry Lewis.


    Probably some kind of cortisone. :(

    Carol
    --
    "Years ago my mother used to say to me... She'd say,
    'In this world Elwood, you must be oh-so smart or oh-so pleasant.'
    Well, for years I was smart.... I recommend pleasant. You may quote me."

    *James Stewart* in the 1950 movie, _Harvey_
     
  16. "Sheryl Rosen" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > Unlike so many of today's tv hosts, Johnny Carson understood
    > his place in an interview...he knew when to talk, and more importantly,
    > when
    > to shut up and let his guest do the talking.
    >


    Dateline showed an interview with him tonight. He was asked by Bryant Gumble
    about the questions Johnny asked his guests. If the guest said not to ask
    about a particular subject, he would honor that. He was out to entertain,
    not put anyone on the spot.
     
  17. Sandy

    Sandy Guest

    Probably Prednisone to help with his breathing. He had emphysema. Sis
    "Damsel" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > On Sun, 23 Jan 2005 20:19:09 -0600, notbob <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >>On 2005-01-24, Damsel <[email protected]> wrote:
    >>
    >>> He was on Entertainment Tonight late last week, and they were talking
    >>> about
    >>> how he was writing for Letterman. So this came as a big surprise to me.

    >>
    >>....and boy, was he ever bloated. Looked almost as big as Jerry Lewis.

    >
    > Probably some kind of cortisone. :(
    >
    > Carol
    > --
    > "Years ago my mother used to say to me... She'd say,
    > 'In this world Elwood, you must be oh-so smart or oh-so pleasant.'
    > Well, for years I was smart.... I recommend pleasant. You may quote me."
    >
    > *James Stewart* in the 1950 movie, _Harvey_
     
  18. Damsel

    Damsel Guest

    On Mon, 24 Jan 2005 00:56:30 -0500, "Sandy" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >"Damsel" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    >news:[email protected]
    >> On Sun, 23 Jan 2005 20:19:09 -0600, notbob <[email protected]> wrote:
    >>
    >>>On 2005-01-24, Damsel <[email protected]> wrote:
    >>>
    >>>> He was on Entertainment Tonight late last week, and they were talking
    >>>> about
    >>>> how he was writing for Letterman. So this came as a big surprise to me.
    >>>
    >>>....and boy, was he ever bloated. Looked almost as big as Jerry Lewis.

    >>
    >> Probably some kind of cortisone. :(
    >>>
    >>>Probably Prednisone to help with his breathing. He had emphysema. Sis


    I didn't realize that. It's a terrible way to die. At least he is no
    longer suffering.

    Thanks for the great memories, Johnny!

    Carol
    --
    "Years ago my mother used to say to me... She'd say,
    'In this world Elwood, you must be oh-so smart or oh-so pleasant.'
    Well, for years I was smart.... I recommend pleasant. You may quote me."

    *James Stewart* in the 1950 movie, _Harvey_
     
  19. jmcquown

    jmcquown Guest

    Sandy wrote:
    > Probably Prednisone to help with his breathing. He had emphysema.


    Yes, he died of emphysema BUT he was also very physically active - tennis,
    sailing, etc. 79 isn't exactly young (although the older I get, the younger
    it seems).

    Jill

    > "Damsel" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]
    >> On Sun, 23 Jan 2005 20:19:09 -0600, notbob <[email protected]>
    >> wrote:
    >>
    >>> On 2005-01-24, Damsel <[email protected]> wrote:
    >>>
    >>>> He was on Entertainment Tonight late last week, and they were
    >>>> talking about
    >>>> how he was writing for Letterman. So this came as a big surprise
    >>>> to me.
    >>>
    >>> ....and boy, was he ever bloated. Looked almost as big as Jerry
    >>> Lewis.

    >>
    >> Probably some kind of cortisone. :(
    >>
    >> Carol
    >> --
    >> "Years ago my mother used to say to me... She'd say,
    >> 'In this world Elwood, you must be oh-so smart or oh-so pleasant.'
    >> Well, for years I was smart.... I recommend pleasant. You may quote
    >> me."
    >>
    >> *James Stewart* in the 1950 movie, _Harvey_
     
  20. Leo Scanlon

    Leo Scanlon Guest

    Johnny was the best ever at what he did. And he became absolutely
    brilliant when things threatened to go wrong. Putting an animal near
    or on him often spelled the beginning of a hilarious bit.

    I assume they'll be having some salutes to Johnny in the next few days.
    I can hardly wait.

    Leo
     
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