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Archive for July 22nd, 2017

by Lucille Juliano

It’s a simple fact, that throughout show business history, there has never been such a success story.  Who in the world has had thirty years in one spot? It never happened before.  There’s nothing to compare it to.  Sometimes old-timers hang on and they’re not so good, but the audience likes them and forgives.  You don’t have to forgive him.  He’s as good as the day he started.                                      -Phyllis Diller                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                     

I loved being on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  Nobody listened as good as Johnny.  He’s also a great actor.  He laughed at my jokes like he’d never heard them before.

-George Burns

He is, he was, and will always be the best there was.  It’s been thirty years of the best television we will ever have.  There is not another Johnny Carson . . . unless there’ll be another Charlie Chaplin.

-Jerry Lewis

I have nothing but the greatest admiration for him.  I think that when he quits, it’s kind of an end of an era.

-Jack Paar

(taken from the foreword of Here’s Johnny! revised edition by Stephen Cox, 1992, 2002)

 

Johnny became the host of The Tonight Show about a year or so before I was born.  My parents watched him religiously and as soon as we were old enough to stay up late, my sister and I became regulars as well.  Apparently, Johnny had become an institution in our lives just as he had for countless Americans around the country. Like clockwork, he returned each night and we as admirers, banked on it.   When I think about it, he was always there right after the 11 o’clock news on NBC for more than half my life.  My family and I watched him every night Monday through Friday no matter where we were at home, visiting family or friends or on vacation.  For three decades, Johnny was seated behind the desk and entertained us in so many ways. He was more than just an anchor to late-night audiences.  He was the “King of Late-Night Television”.  It has been said that Johnny had some of the greatest comedy writers around.  His timing and delivery aged like fine wine and only got better.   It could be that we just got so used to him that any errors really didn’t matter.  We went easy on him because even his blunders were amusing.   During his reign, seven presidents passed through the White House and the country moved through wars, victories, and taxes.

I can still remember watching his last show on May 22, 1992 with guests, Robin Williams and Bette Midler.  Robin was his typical crazy self and had Johnny in stitches not knowing what he would do next.  Bette was his official last guest.  During the show, she sang three times including a duet with Johnny himself.  Her rendition “You Made Me Love You” or should I say “You Made Me Watch You” was absolutely hysterical and a real roast of Johnny and his career.  During the finale, Bette came out and sang her own rendition of “One More for My Baby (and One More for the Road) which was so touching and sentimental that there was not a dry eye on either side of the camera.  You could see that Johnny was holding back tears as she sang and hear it in his voice as he said goodnight to his audience.   (more…)

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