Thursday, October 23, 2014

Johnny Carson: The King Of Late Night Television

Johnny Carson as Carnac the Magnificent

In light of Jimmy Fallon and Dennis Miller already in place as new late night television hosts, and Steven Colbert taking on the same role at CBS in 2015, it's a perfect time to mention Johnny Carson, the King of Late Night. Carson was born on this day in Corning, Iowa, in 1925. As host of The Tonight Show for thirty years, 1962-1992, he brought celebrity, entertainment, and his own brand of wacky comedy to millions of viewers. He was a major influence in the entertainment world but his impact may never be well understood or appreciated because he led a shy, guarded life beyond the studio lights. A documentary film by Peter Jones did much to open Carson's world to the public when it was broadcast on PBS as part of the American Masters series in 2012.

Here is a look at the master at work with his usual cast members and a host of notable entertainers and comedians.  The clip, known as the famous "Lost Episode", is long but it's a first-rate example of Carson at his best.

And here is Carson as one of his most beloved characters, Carnack the Magnificent:

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