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Old 01-23-2005, 12:21 PM
reeb reeb is offline
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Default Johnny Carson has Passed Away

Jan. 23, 2005

News Live

Late-Night Lord Johnny Carson Dies

by Joal Ryan
Jan 23, 2005, 11:45 AM PT

Johnny Carson, who defined American comedy for 30 years as the king of late-night television and quintessential host of NBC's Tonight Show, died Sunday at age 79.

NBC confirmed the death on its Website. His nephew, Jeff Sotzing, told the Associated Press, "Mr. Carson passed away peacefully early Sunday morning. He was surrounded by his family, whose loss will be immeasurable. There will be no memorial service."

a d v e r t i s e m e n t

Sotzing did not disclose any further details, including time of death, where Carson died or the exact cause of death.

The late-night fixture had been beset by health problems since his reitrement more than a decade ago. Carson underwent a quadruple-heart bypass in March 1999. Some reports said the comic had suffered a heart attack, necessitating the emergency surgery.

In September 2002, he confirmed he was battling emphysema.

The reserved quipmeister, who mentored a generation of future comedy stars including David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld and Roseanne, was rarely seen in public after bequeathing The Tonight Show's legendary Burbank soundstage to Jay Leno in 1992.

However, just last week, former Tonight Show producer Peter Lassally said Carson was still feeding jokes to Letterman. "He can think of five jokes off the bat that he wishes he has an outlet for,'' Lassally told reporters at the Television Critics' Association's Winter Press Tour. And when Letterman would use the punch lines, Lassally said, "Johnny [would get] a big kick out of that. I think the thing he misses the most is the monologue."

In an extremely rare interview with Esquire in April 2002, 10 years after his final monologue, Carson said, "I still, believe it or not, have dreams in which I am late for The Tonight Show.

Carson's subconscious could be forgiven for obsessing about his former gig. The show was, he pointed out, the place where he spent two-thirds of his adult life. The onetime amateur magician began his Tonight Show reign in 1962. At the time, he was viewed as a low-wattage replacement for then-irreplaceable Jack Paar--the skinny, affable quizmaster of Who Do You Trust? But soon, Carson, with chortling announcer Ed McMahon by his side, would perfect his greatest trick--turning himself into an institution.

His nightly opening monologue (prefaced by McMahon's hearty "Heeeeere's Johnny!") became a touchstone of popular culture. One 1973 joke about a toilet-paper shortage led to real-life toilet-paper hording by loyal viewers. Sly but rarely mean, Carson put an easy-going coda on the cracks with his signature golf swing, literally sweeping away the punchlines and signaling the start of the celebrity interviews or Aunt Blabby sketches.

By the late 1960s, Carson had become such an icon that even the Beatles' John Lennon couldn't mask his disappointment at being met with guest host Joe Garagiola, instead of the real deal. ("Where's Johnny?" Lennon sadly inquired during the 1968 appearance with mate Paul McCartney.)

By the late 1970s, the question became, "Who'll succeed Johnny?" As Carson pared back his work schedule (from live to tape, from five nights a week to four, from 90 minutes a night to 60 minutes), the watch was on for a successor to the king. The pundits ran through dozens of the possibilities--David Brenner? Richard Dawson? That Letterman kid?--but Carson was not going anywhere. He bridged President Kennedy's Camelot and President George H.W. Bush's New World Order; ruled from the Cuban missile crisis to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

During his run, Carson became known as the late-night killer. Merv Griffin, Joey Bishop, Dick Cavett, Alan Thicke and others tried to launch rival p.m. shows on rival outlets--and failed. It wasn't until Arsenio Hall arrived in 1989, tapping into a younger, more diverse and presumably hipper audience that the silver-haired Carson suddenly looked vulnerable.

Perhaps Carson's greatest legacy was his role as the nation's comic arbiter. If Carson thought you were funny, you were golden--your career launched via a five-minute Tonight Show routine. And if you made Carson laugh? You were beyond golden--you were a Chosen One, invited to sit next to the god. Letterman, Leno, Seinfeld, Roseanne, Sam Kinison, Albert Brooks and dozens of others all made breakthrough Tonight appearances.

Carson was born John William Carson on October 23, 1925, in Corning, Iowa. Shortly after his birth, his family relocated to Nebraska, a state that the almost-native son would go onto routinely booster.

As a teen, he gigged around as "The Great Carsoni," a magic-and-ventriloquist act. Leaving the card tricks to the caped fellows, Carson turned to radio and TV announcing, and, in 1951, landed his first show, Carson's Cellar.

CBS' The Johnny Carson Show (1955) was his network debut. More long-term success came with Who Do You Trust? Carson emceed the daytime game show on ABC from 1957-62, hooking up with announcer McMahon along the way.

When Paar famously (and abruptly) quit the Tonight Show in 1962, Carson was enlisted, becoming the program's third host. (Steve Allen was the first, from 1954-57.) Because of contract issues with ABC, Carson wasn't free to host NBC's Tonight for six months following Paar's departure. The intervening 26 weeks were filled by guest hosts. Carson, with McMahon at his side, finally debuted on October 1, 1962, with Groucho Marx as their first guest.

Over the next 30 years, Carson would do more than 4,500 episodes (4,531, to be precise). In May 1991, despite years of speculation about when he would depart, NBC brass was caught off guard when Carson up and announced his impending retirement at the network unveiling of its new fall schedule. The move set off the Great Late-Night TV Wars of 1991-92, best chronicled in the best-seller, The Late Shift. (The short version: NBC offered Leno the Tonight gig; Letterman got mad; NBC secretly re-offered the Tonight gig to Letterman; Letterman turned down NBC and fled to CBS.)

Carson's final Tonight came on May 22, 1992, at age 66. After a farewell week highlighted by appearances from Bette Midler (who won an Emmy for crooning until Carson got misty-eyed), Robin Williams and Elizabeth Taylor, the last show was for the inner circle only: Carson, McMahon and band leader Doc Severinsen, who showed clips and said their goodbyes. There was no mention of Leno, who was to take over the show the following Monday, and who had been Carson's exclusive guest host since 1987.

Carson never did give Leno an on-air blessing. He never returned to Tonight. In fact, his only post-retirement, late-night appearance came on a 1994 Late Show With David Letterman. (And even then, he didn't speak; he waved.)

"I think I left at the right time," Carson told Esquire in 2002. "You've got to know when to get the hell off the stage, and the timing was right for me."

While there was speculation at the time of his retirement that he would make movie deals, or return to his game-show roots, the Great Carsoni did the hardest thing of all: He stayed retired.

He went on cruises, became fluent in Swahili, packaged his old Tonight broadcasts for home video, even lent his voice to an episode of The Simpsons. But he didn't return to TV. He rarely gave interviews (two, in his first 10 years of retirement). He said he didn't have anything to say. Didn't have anything to prove. He'd done it.

Not that Carson was overly impressed by his legacy, mind you. "It's just a television show," he once said, "not the Dead Sea Scrolls."

The much married Carson wed four times, divorcing three times. Two of his splits, to the former Joanne Copland (1963-1972) and the former Joanna Holland (1972-1985), involved public wrangling over alimony payments. Carson made the best of it, slyly poking fun at his marital misfortunes on the air.

His fourth marriage, to Alexis Mass, took. The two met on the beach in Malibu, California. (She was taking a stroll by his beach house.) They wed on June 20, 1987.

In addition to his wife, Carson is survived by two sons, Christopher and Cory, by first wife, the former Jody Walcott. A third son, Richard, also by Walcott, died in a car accident in 1991.

May he rest in peace.....
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Old 01-23-2005, 12:44 PM
melody1181 melody1181 is offline

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Just heard that. Didn't know he was 79.
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Old 01-23-2005, 03:44 PM
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Jerry D Jerry D is offline
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And the Next Night in Heaven St Peter announced "Heresssss Johnny"

"may Johnny rest in peace"
[><] Dixie born and proud of it.
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Old 01-23-2005, 06:33 PM
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82Rigger 82Rigger is offline
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A snappy salute to a passing WW2 Navy vet.

Sometimes on the Tonight Show he would talk about his days at the Pensacola Naval Air Station which is just a short distance from me.

I'm sitting here thinking of all the now-famous folks who got their start on his show...George Carlin,Woody Allen, Gary Shandling, Jerry Seinfeld, Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby...I'm sure there are many more.

Rest in Peace, Johnny!
""Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln,how did you like the play?"

Steve / 82Rigger
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Old 01-24-2005, 08:48 AM
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My wife and I watched him for years. RIP Mr. Carson I know you will have a big audience where you're going and of course I'm sure you will have them laughing in the isles.

We will miss you

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Old 01-24-2005, 01:29 PM
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I remember mom and dad watching when i was little.. When I got older I asked for a t.v. for Christmas dad was why on earth do you want a t.v. for your room for. It will just get you in trouble when you go to bed.. (dad new me to well) All I want to do to is watch Jonny on late nite then go to bed i said.. so i got the tv for christmas.. and watched it everynite.. or as many as i could.. then came high school tv was out but we need not go there..
"Johnny rest in peace"
To The presten: Thank you for all you are doing for our Country..

To the past: Thank you for all you did for our Country..

To the future: Thank you for all you will do for our Country

To those we have lost past prestent and future: R.I.P You might be gone.BUT you will NEVER be forgotten
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Old 01-25-2005, 06:50 PM
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Statement on Passing of U.S. Navy Veteran Johnny Carson

Special message from Secretary of the Navy Gordon England

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England issued the following statement Jan. 24 on the passing of U.S. Navy veteran and long-time host of NBC television?s ?Tonight Show? Johnny Carson. Carson passed away Jan. 23 at the age of 79.

?The United States Navy joins the rest of America in mourning the passing of Johnny Carson. A great entertainer and a shipmate, serving as a naval officer in World War II, he is a part of America?s 'Greatest Generation' that will never be forgotten.?

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Old 01-26-2005, 11:55 AM
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R.I.P., Shipmate. See you in the lounge on the final cruise!
"I fly this plane for my country, when it stops flying it's not my fault, it's the countrys." CDR Fred "Bear" Vogt. The Last Skipper of VF-33's, F-4's.

A veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America", for an amount of "up to and including my life." That is honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it. -- Author Unknown
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