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The Johnny Carson Show; A Profile

Updated on February 4, 2021
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Rosemary is author of six books on mental health and inspirational poetry. She is a motivational speaker and a volunteer peer advocate.

October 1, 1962- 1992 ~ 30 years of entertainment

Heeeeerrrreeeeeeee's Johnny!

I'm writing this on a small computer at my parent's house, in my brother's old room, right after watching 3 DVD's of the set I got at the library of the Johnny Carson show. The first DVD was of the shows from the 60's- 70's, and from the 80's to 90's. The second disk showed his trip back to his hometown, the third a fantastic show with Robin Williams and Bette Midler and the final show and all three had lots of extras and behind the scene footage.

I've never watched the Johnny Carson show. I was born after that time and was still in high school when it was ended. I never heard of it till years ago, because I've heard people mention it, but mostly when they compare it to the other current Tonight Shows like David Letterman and Jay Leno. Jay Leno is the "successor" of Johnny Carson as he is in the same studio Carson was in and became the Tonight Show host after Carson retired. Jay was also on Carson's show as was Letterman and many other talents such as Jerry Seinfeld, Madonna, Betty White, George Carlin, Arnold Swartznegger, and politicians such as Bill Clinton.

Before Johnny Carson got the Tonight Show, he was a writer for Red Skelton and one day Red hit his head. Those days all tv was live, so to go "on with the show" Johnny had to fill in. The audience loved him and thereon his was his introduction to stardom.

In retrospect, I want to say....I am really NOT a huge fan of Johnny Carson in particular, but that I find in watching his helps me to uncover a bit better, of what it must have felt like to be young then. Why? Perhaps I'm just curious about that era, the hippies, the politics of John Lennon and Yoko, the hair styles, why things were the way they were, was it more fun? Was there more freedom? Would I have liked the fact that there were fewer sexually transmitted diseases? What was better? What can I take from that time for now? Were most people healthier or thin? Why? These are the things I like to learn and this show gives me a bit more perspective. Yes, I definitely like the Tonight Show...but the people and seeing comedians like Robin Williams in their early day fascinates me most.

Johnny and Guests

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Johnny CarsonOn the set of the Tonight Show Johnny CarsonJohnny Carson navyguest George CarlinA young handsome JohnnyGuest Jay Leno later became late show hostJohnny and ElvisJohnny and...? !Guest Steve Martinguest Bette Midler
Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson
On the set of the Tonight Show Johnny Carson
On the set of the Tonight Show Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson navy
Johnny Carson navy
guest George Carlin
guest George Carlin
A young handsome Johnny
A young handsome Johnny
Guest Jay Leno later became late show host
Guest Jay Leno later became late show host
Johnny and Elvis
Johnny and Elvis
Johnny and...? !
Johnny and...? !
Guest Steve Martin
Guest Steve Martin
guest Bette Midler
guest Bette Midler

What was the Tonight Show like?

Well, it is "like" the current Tonight Shows with comedy skits, music performers, comedians and interviews with musicians, actors and politicians just like today. It preceded today's Tonight Shows, which take after it a lot.

Going "back in time...." was so cool. Of course I've noticed and seen a lot of things about people and the past, but this 3 dvd set...well it filled in some of the blanks for me, as I am really curious about that time...

I always wanted to and this really I think, is the best and most accurate way I know, because it's real life, real people, and real things, the way it was then.

I watched silly hairdo's and corney things were said especially in the 60's. The 70's were a bit cooler and sexier, and the 80's and 90's of course were more familiar to ME.

I loved to see how people interacted back then, people, were friendlier in some ways, "looser" like hippies I suppose and a different way....and noticed of course how you couldn't say certain things on tv that we say now.

When I saw Carson's hometown, it was so nostalgic.

I thought I would have liked to have grown up in that time, but some things about it were boring I suppose like having only a few tv channels or in his case when he was young only the radio....

I liked how he described "going to the balcony of the movies with his favorite girl and making out." For whatever reason, perhaps because I'm very close to my friends of that era, It's so interesting to sort of imagine what it was like for them at that time...especially if you're dating someone who grew up in the 70's (not the 80's like me), You know you kinda wish you were back in time with them, or that YOU were the pretty teacher in the mini skirt they lusted after, or that you had the fun times they did, that you can't have now, with camera everywhere, that you could have 'snuck your friends in the side door of the movies and drink beers during the show' ... These are cool things to know about a different time, and the way things were with less people, quieter streets, better values, and how kids respected their teachers. A wholesome time.

What was being a performer like for Johnny Carson?

He said it was indescribable but filled with excitement and constant "joy" and pleasure and fun.

He is lucky, isn't he, to have had those magical 30 years?

But I wouldn't necessarily envy him, everyone has difficulties in life, be it divorces, deaths in family or friends, personal trials that even he was not exempt of. Not everyone wants to perform or be in the spotlight, but what made it great for Carson, is that is was exactly right for him and what he always dreamed of.

I really enjoyed comedian Robin Williams on the show, as I love him and Bette Midler was quite the performer I must say. It's so exciting for me to look back. My dad is three years younger than what Carson would be, if he were still alive, he'd be 85.

What it was like for me

I longed to be brought up in the 50's when I was young and go back in time, and I loved the Oldies music from 1950-1960.

Then later I focused on the current music of my time but today I absolutely love the classic rock of Queen, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, Heart etc.

I seem to like "antiques" or older times, for the quality they had. I also always liked talking to older people too, and everyone was always older than me, I am the youngest in my family, my class, my friends, etc.

I think my father instilled in me, at a very young age, a taste for the classics, as we watched musicals like West Side Story, Oklahoma, Show Boat and more. I loved those times with him and my love of music and old movies grew.

The Final Show

The final Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, well it was a bit sad, I think anyone would say.

I noticed Carson fighting off the tears at the end especially.

What can I say in conclusion of this show, and Johnny Carson, and the fun and the actors, musicians on his show? What can I say about my experience watching it?

It's nice to finally see it. It was funny and Carson was talented. He was sincere and he was adaptable. It was a place to be "noticed" and a source of great entertainment. Carson began many of the styles of comedy and mannerisms I think that we see today in the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and David Letterman.

I would say Johnny Carson is an icon of television and of the Tonight Show. He is always spoken of with great respect by actors, and the like who benefited by being on his show. I only wish I could have seen more of my favorite musicians and actors who were on the show. The hairstyles from wavy in the 70's, to hairspray in the 80's to the 90's was such a trip to see. History ...was never a subject in school I liked, learning about the civil war and things. But History like this, is really interesting. I am glad I watched the show!!

Carson appears on Letterman


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