"I was so naive as a kid I used to sneak behind the barn and do nothing."

Happy birthday Johnny Carson!

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Johnny Carson (October 23, 1925—January 23, 2005) was an American television host and comedian. His show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, became the most popular nighttime talk show on television for much of the latter half of the 20th century. He earned six Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his tenure as its host.

ifX6v9wKNEDkCarson was born in Corning, Iowa to Ruth and Homer R. Carson. His performing career began as a magician; he was performing as "The Great Carsoni" at local fairs and picnics by the time he was 14.

At 18, he joined the U.S. Navy. Even while aboard the USS Pennsylvania, Carson performed magic.

Carson attended the University of Nebraska, majoring in radio and speech and minoring in physics. He soon began working at WOW, a radio and television station in Omaha, and it wasn't long before he had his own morning show called The Squirrel's Nest. (Image source)

During the early 1950s, he worked at CBS-owned Los Angeles television station KNXT, where he hosted Carson's Cellar. This led to an appearance on Red Skelton's and later Jack Benny's shows. By the end of the 1950s, he began to appear on NBC's Who Do You Trust? The daytime show became hugely popular during Carson's time on it. It was on this show that he met his future sidekick Ed McMahon.

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In 1962, he took over Jack Paar's role on NBC's Tonight. Though at the beginning, he had misgivings about interviewing celebrities every day, his ratings eventually soared. He remained the show's host for three decades, during which time he earned six Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Some recurring characters he played on the show included Carnac, Art Fern, and Aunt Blabby.

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Carson was enormously successful. His last appearance on The Tonight Show in 1992 drew around 50 million viewers.

Carson has been cited as a major influence on many of television's most popular hosts including David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Craig Ferguson, and Jimmy Fallon.

When he retired from The Tonight Show, he appeared occasionally on other television shows including on The Simpsons and on the Late Show with David Letterman.

 

He was reportedly very shy off camera, and gave these answers to any journalist who wanted to interview him:

Yes, I did.

Not a bit of truth in that rumor.

Only twice in my life, both times on Saturday.

I can do either, but I prefer the first.

No. Kumquats.

I can't answer that question.

Toads and tarantulas.

Turkestan, Denmark, Chile, and the Komandorski Islands.

As often as possible, but I'm not very good at it yet. I need much more practice.

It happened to some old friends of mine, and it's a story I'll never forget.

 

Selected appearances:

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Thursday, 23 October 2014
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