AnimalsComediansComedyL E StoriesMusicRobin Williams

Comedy – Johnny Carson – Late Night TV / Stand-Up / Skits – L E’s Stories – “Heeeeeeeeeeeeer’s Johnny” – A Tribute To The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson is an American late-night talk show….which was hosted by Johnny Carson under the Tonight Show franchise that aired on NBC from October 1, 1962, to May 22, 1992….for this program was truly interwoven into the very fabric of the USA…which was watched often, almost regularly by Bone Daddy…..cuz it started after the late night news….when all the sports of any significance had ended for the day….oh, there were West Coast games, but Bone Daddy didn’t like the Lakers, Pac 12, Dodgers Angels Giants, Clippers you get the picture….so, he often turned the tv to   “Heeeeeeeer’s Johnny”…..cuz not only was Carson funny and creative himself, he always had great comedy and music featured on his show.                                                                                                                  

Comedy – 1984 – The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson Featuring Comedian Louie Anderson’s 1st Television Appearance

                                                                                                                                                                                    During the 1st decade of the show, Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show was based at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City, with some episodes recorded at NBC’s West Coast studios in Burbank, California ….then in 1972, the show moved to Burbank as its main venue….and that is where it remained until Carson’s retirement.  In 2002, The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson was ranked No. 12 on TV Guides 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time…. and in 2013 it was ranked No. 22 on their list of 60 Best Series.                 

Comedy – 1985 – The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson Special Highlights Of The Funniest Moments With Jim Fowler’s Animals

                                                                                                                                                                              Only 33 complete episodes of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show that had originally aired prior to 1972 are known to exist.  All other shows during this period, including Carson’s debut as host, are now considered lost because of wiping.  Following the standard procedure for most television production companies of that era, NBC reused The Tonight Show videotapes for recording other programs. Carson himself encouraged the erasure of his archives, once humorously quipping that NBC should “make guitar picks” out of them, and did not believe they were of any value.  It was rumored that many other episodes were lost in a fire, but NBC has denied this. Other surviving material from the era has been found on  kinescopes held in the archives of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service….or in the personal collections of guests of the program…..while a few moments such as Tiny Tim’s wedding, were preserved. There are also two appearances by Judy Garland in 1968 that still survive… well as the appearance of  John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1968 episode….which was guest-hosted by Joe Garagiola, with a guest appearance by Tallulah Bankhead (one of her last) was preserved on poor-quality home kinescope and audiotape in separate recordings by Beatles fans.


Comedy – 1988 – The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson’s Christmas Time Opening Monologue

The program archive is virtually complete from 1973 to 1992. The New York Post reported in May 2011 that 250 of Carson’s monologues and sketches spanning a 20-year period are on the Memory Lane website.   Carson Productions has also made clips available on YouTube and Antenna TV…..and although no footage is known to remain of Carson’s very first broadcast as host of The Tonight Show on October 1, 1962, photographs taken that night survive, including Carson being introduced by Groucho Marx, as does an audio recording of Marx’s introduction and Carson’s first monologue. One of his first jokes upon starting the show (after receiving a few words of encouragement from Marx….one of which was, “Don’t go to Hollywood!” was to pretend to panic and say, “I want my nana!”….as this recording was played at the start of Carson’s final broadcast on May 22, 1992.….for the oldest surviving video recording of the show is dated November 1962…..while the oldest surviving color recording is from April 1964…. when Carson interviewed Jake Ehrlich, Sr., as his guest.                                                                                                                      

Comedy – 1986 – The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson – With Guest Joan Rivers

                                                                                                                                                                                    The digital multicast network Antenna TV acquired rerun rights to whole episodes of the series in August 2015. Unlike the previous clip shows, Antenna TV’s airings feature full broadcasts as they were originally seen, with the only edits being removal of The Tonight Show name, with the show being renamed simply as Johnny Carson….which as of January 2018, the broadcasts air opposite the current edition of The Tonight Show in much of the United States, and NBC still owns the trademark on that name.                              

Comedy – 1989 – The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Featuring The Hilarious Comedy Of George Carlin

                                                                                                                                                                                      Jack Paar had often asked Carson to guest-host Tonight in its earliest years and repeatedly claimed he had been responsible for NBC’s selection of Carson in 1962 as his replacement…..while Steve Allen also utilized guest hosts, including Carson and Ernie Kovacs, particularly after he began hosting The Steve Allen Show in prime time in 1956….and needed to reduce his workload on Tonight.                                            

Comedy – 1974 – The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Featuring The Comedy Of Rodney Dangerfield And His Rapid One-Liners

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson had guest hosts for entire weeks during Carson’s vacations and other nights he had off. Many guest hosts were already large names in their own right…..among them being Frank Sinatra, Burt Reynolds and Don Rickles…..albeit the following is a list of those who guest-hosted at least fifty times during the first 21 years of the show’s run including Joey Bishop (177 times,  mostly in the 1960’s)….Joan Rivers (93, during the 1970’s and 1980’s)….John Davidson (87)….Bob Newhart (87)….David Brenner (70)….McLean Stevenson (58)….Jerry Lewis (52, mostly in the 1960’s)….  David Letterman (51, mostly between 1980 and 1981)…..while Sammy Davis Jr. guest hosted in April 1965, becoming the first African-American to host a talk show…..and Harry Belafonte guest hosted for a week in February 1968, and among Belafonte’s guests were Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr…..then on April 2, 1979, Kermit the Frog was guest host.  In addition, many other Muppets appeared for skits and regular segments… when Frank Oz voiced Fozzie Bear and Animal while Jerry Nelson performed Uncle Deadly…..with a Vincent Price-inspired Muppet during a segment with the real Price.                                 

Comedy – 1979 – The Tonight Show With Special Guest Host Kermit The Frog Featuring Vincent Price + Leo Sayers + The Muppets

                                                                                                                                                                                Carson’s contract, that took effect in 1981, reduced his work schedule to three nights a week, 37 weeks a year. “Best of Carson” reruns aired on Tuesdays in the weeks that Carson was hosting new shows. Monday night shows and shows for most of the 15 weeks that Carson had off were hosted by guest hosts. Due to the frequent need for substitutes, starting in 1983 permanent guest hosts were hired in order to give the program more stability. The permanent guest hosts were Joan Rivers (1983–86),  then, after about a year where a wide range of guest hosts were used, Garry Shandling alternating with Jay Leno (1987–88) and finally Leno alone (1988–92) after Shandling left to focus on his Showtime series It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.                                                                                                                                                     

Comedy – 1983 – The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Featuring Special Guest Emmanuel Lewis

                                                                                                                                                                                      In September 1983, Joan Rivers was designated Carson’s permanent guest host, a role she had been essentially filling for the previous year. In 1986, she left the program for her own show on the then-new Fox Network. According to Carson, Rivers never personally informed him of the existence of her show. Rivers, on the other hand, disagreed. Nevertheless, Rivers’ new show was quickly canceled, and she never again appeared on The Tonight Show with Carson…..nor did she appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno….which was a ban maintained by Leno out of respect for Carson.  She also never appeared during Conan O’Brien’s seven-month run. After Carson’s death in 2005, Rivers told CNN that Carson never forgave her for leaving, and never spoke to her again, even after she wrote him a note following the accidental death of Carson’s son Ricky in June 1991.                                                                                              

Comedy – 1981 – The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson With The Funny Singing Parrot Pancho

                                                                                                                                                                                  As his retirement approached, Carson tried to avoid sentimentality but would periodically show clips of some of his favorite moments and again invited some of his favorite guests. He told his crew, “Everything comes to an end; nothing lasts forever. Thirty years is enough. It’s time to get out while you’re still working on top of your game, while you’re still working well.”                                                                                                                                           

Music – 1974 – The Jackson 5 Sing “Dancing Machine” Live On The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

                                                                                                                                                                                  Carson hosted his penultimate show, featuring guests Robin Williams and Bette Midler, on May 21, 1992.The last of Carson’s monologues was delivered on this episode and was written by Jim Mulholland, Steven Kunes and Rift Fournier. Once underway, the atmosphere was electric and Carson was greeted with a sustained, two-minute intense standing ovation. Williams was especially uninhibited with his trademark manic energy and stream-of-consciousness lunacy. Midler was more emotional. When the conversation turned to Johnny’s favorite songs, “I’ll Be Seeing You” and “Here’s That Rainy Day,” Midler mentioned that she knew a chorus of the latter. She began singing the song, and after the first line, Carson joined in and turned it into an impromptu duet. Midler finished her appearance from center stage, where she slowly sang the pop standard “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road).” Carson became unexpectedly tearful, and a shot of the two of them was captured by a camera angle from across the set that had never before been used on the show. The audience became tearful as well and called the three performers out for a second bow after the taping was completed. This show was immediately recognized as a television classic that Midler considered one of the most emotional moments of her life and eventually won an Emmy for her role in it.                                                                                                                      

Comedy – 1982 – The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson With Comedian Robin Williams – HILARIOUS!!!

                                                                                                                                                                            Carson had no guests on his final episode of The Tonight Show on May 22, 1992, which was instead a retrospective show taped before an invitation-only studio audience of family, friends, and crew. More than fifty million people tuned in for this finale, which ended with Carson sitting on a stool alone at center stage, similar to Jack Paar’s last show. He said these final words in conclusion:

“And so it has come to this: I, uh… am one of the lucky people in the world; I found something I always wanted to do and I have enjoyed every single minute of it. I want to thank the gentlemen who’ve shared this stage with me for thirty years. Mr. Ed McMahon, Mr. Doc Severinsen, and you people watching. I can only tell you that it has been an honor and a privilege to come into your homes all these years and entertain you. And I hope when I find something that I want to do and I think you would like and come back, that you’ll be as gracious in inviting me into your home as you have been. I bid you a very heartfelt good night.”


Comedy – May 22, 1992 – The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Special The Final Show After Three Decades

                                                                                                                                                                                Any way you cut the pie….The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson…..was the gold standard for “talk show” and “late night” television… Johnny dominated both from 1962 to 1992….and it just would not be right if we didn’t show proper respect to a television program that basically was an essential fiber of the period that our video museum covers….so, the videos seen in this story herewith provide great representations in our tribute to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.                                                                                       

Comedy – 1991 – The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Featuring Tommy Smother’s Dead-On Imitation Of Johnny Carson


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button