Johnny Carson

October 23, 1925 – January 23, 2005

For three days after death, hair and fingernails continue to grow…  but phone calls taper off.


Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson


“And now, heeeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!”  For 29 years at 11:30 PM on Channel 4, people heard that from Ed McMahon. After taking over from Jack Paar, Carson would host The Tonight Show with Ed McMahon from October of 1962, until he retired on May 22, 1992.



Other than appearances on Late Show with David Letterman and The Simpsons,  he pretty much disappeared from the public, spending most of his time in his 12 million dollar Malibu Home,

and on his 130 foot yacht, the Serengeti.

Carson recorded the Tonight Show at NBC in Burbank,

where they now make the Ellen show,

and loads of other shows.  Across the street from NBC is the Johnny Carson park,

that enforce dog poo laws.

As always, there is lots of information on Mr. C elsewhere.

October 06 – My pal Alan Light sends in this video – of Carson’s last appearance on television – a brief cameo on David Letterman.  I just watched it, and its hard not to get a bit choked up.  Bless him.  Like Joan Rivers said, “Carson IS America.”


The King of Late Night had undergone quadruple heart bypass surgery in March of 1999, after suffering a heart attack, and announced that he had emphysema in 2002. After that, he spent most of his time on the Serengeti. He also met once a week to play poker, with Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Carl Reiner, and Neil Simon.

According to his nephew in TV Guide last year, he was no longer able to play tennis, his favorite pastime, because of his emphysema. Carson and his fourth wife, Alexis, lived in Malibu.

On January 4th, 2005, a picture of him was published in the New York Post, that was taken when he was going into a movie theater to see The Aviator. It would be one of the last pictures ever taken of him in public.

On the 5th of January, Johnny was hospitalized at Cedars for breathing difficulties, but upon stabilization he insisted upon returning home. He was re hospitalized on the 16th, and on the 21st transferred to Intensive Care. According to one report, when Johnny learned that his prognosis was dim, he himself opted to have his life support removed.

On January 23rd, he died at 6:50 AM, surrounded by his sons Christopher and Corey, and his wife Alexis. Cause of death: respiratory failure from emphysema, brought on by the fact that he was a smoker for most of his life. In the early days of the Tonight Show, he could often be spotted hiding a cigarette behind his desk. He reportedly quit for good about ten years ago. He was 79 years old.



Johnny Carson's Death Certificate


Upon hearing of his passing, David Letterman issued this statement: “It is a sad day for his family and for the country, he was the best — a star and a gentleman.” The Laugh Factory did their obligatory sign.



Before Carson died, it was revealed that he had been sending jokes to Letterman, for use in his monologues on the Late Show. On January 24th, on the Tonight Show, Jay Leno marked his passing with Ed McMahon, Bob Newhart, and Don Rickles reminiscing about Johnny. A week later, on the Late Show, David Letterman did a monologue composed entirely of jokes sent by Carson.

No funeral services were held, and Carson was cremated, with his ashes going to his family.

Upon hearing of his death, the Honorary Mayor of Hollywood, Johnny Grant showed up for the cameras to put flowers on Johnny’s star on the Walk of Fame.



“I know if Johnny Carson could somehow magically show up here and now, his remark would be, ‘What are you doing?’ because he was such a private person.  “But I invite everybody around this part of the country to come here, place flowers.  We’ll take care of them, and give the guy a great sendoff.”  Grant also added, “I will start this very day to find a square or a street corner or something to be designated ‘Johnny Carson Way’ or something like that.”

There is a lot of information with regards to the feud between Leno and Letterman, which you can research elsewhere, the same for the Carson and Joan Rivers incident.

Trivia: His son Rick was killed in an automobile accident in 1991.  Apparently while taking photographs from a moving vehicle, he drove off a cliff. Whoops.

He was a close friend of Michael Landon. When Landon made his final television appearance ever, on the Tonight Show, he revealed that he had daily coffee enemas to relieve the intestinal pain due to his cancer treatment.  The episode drew huge ratings, and Landon died a few weeks later.

He was also good friends with Jimmy Stewart.

He was once a writer for Red Skelton.



Happening more and more often department, from Findadeath friend Chris Meacham:Regarding Rodney Dangerfield from the January 31, 2005 New York Post’s Page Six:

EVEN in death, Rodney Dangerfield gets no respect. The late comedy legend’s longtime publicist, Kevin Sasaki, got a call from a booker at CNN last week asking him if “Rodney would be available to share his comments on the passing and legacy of Johnny Carson.” Sasaki replied that unless CNN had a new way of linking up to the afterlife via satellite, that would be impossible. Dangerfield, of course, passed away last October. Ironically, his new DVD set, “Rodney Dangerfield – The Ultimate No Respect Collection,” was posthumously released last month, and includes clips culled from his more than 70 appearances on “The Tonight Show.”

He started out as a magician when he was fourteen years old, called the Great Carsoni.

He was almost cast as Rob Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke Show.

He hosted 4,531 episodes of the Tonight Show.

His final appearance on the Tonight Show drew 50 million viewers.

In his will, Johnny bequeathed 1 million to the Carson Center for Chimps in his home state of Nebraska, and also gave money to a man that debunks people claiming to be psychics, and Planned Parenthood.

Thanks to Kevin Hassell our buddy, for le story, and Kyle Goodman for the snaps of Johnny’s Malibu home.



See Johnny’s official website, HERE.

See the official Tonight Show website, HERE.

Did Johnny really offer to pet Zsa Zsa Gabor’s, ahem, pussy? Read about it HERE.



9 thoughts on “Johnny Carson

  • February 9, 2023 at 8:45 am

    I wonder if Johnny decided to step down due to his sons death in 1991. Sometimes losing a
    loved one can change your way of looking at things. I don’t know how close he was to his children (no one really knows what he was like privately) but losing a son can’t make you want to keep being funny if you don’t feel it.

  • January 29, 2023 at 11:42 pm

    In case you are wondering about the Gabor Carson Pussy cat….read KERMIT SCHAFER PARDON MY BLOOPER BOOKS it’s loaded with Carson bloopers

    Only one record has an audio
    The one on mca records

  • November 2, 2022 at 5:09 pm

    Growing up, The Tonight Show was on too late for me to watch.
    And there were no VCRs.
    There were some great moments on the show.
    My favorites were the really great musicians, like Buddy Rich and Pete Fountain. Typically, Pete Fountain would play a song on his clarinet, and the audience would just go nuts. And Johnny would sometimes let Pete play for the remainder of the show.
    Johnny also had Oscar Peterson on the show once. Johnny liked jazz and was a pretty good drummer, from what I have read over the years.
    He was a nice man, and he did his job well.
    There will never be another.

  • May 6, 2022 at 7:54 am

    You mention that Carson left money to someone that debunks psychics. I believe you mean he left money to The James Randi Foundation. James Randi is the guy who exposed Peter Popoffs “talking to god” bullshit by listening into the information his wife was saying to him in his earpiece. People actually thought god was talking to him when in reality his wife was reading all of their info off of the information cards they filled out. Look it up on YouTube. It’s crazy. James Randi was also who Carson consulted to set up the infamous Uri Geller trick test which Geller failed horribly.

  • November 2, 2021 at 9:51 pm

    I absolutely love the updated website! I’ve been a hag in lurking since 2005! This website is the ultimate Hollywood encyclopedia, and it’s only gotten better as I’ve grown up. Well, besides losing people along the way, but you know what I mean.

    Personally, I believe the cat story, it’s my understanding, Carson was live in the 60’s, and I feel like I may have heard Gabor was mortified and had it buried.

    The ape thing, there is no Center for the Apes, but there has been a pretty gnarly ape enclosure for the past 20 or so years at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, probably the best zoo after San Diego, in America, but I’ve never been to San Diego.

    An older gay friend tells of seeing Carson with a twink or two hanging off him in LA, a little before he died. I could go on, I don’t wanna sully the King of Late Night, but I can’t resist! I love the new site!

  • August 11, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    Sorry there is no Johnny Carson home for chimps in Nebraska. That’s a myth. There is however the Johnny Carson Performing Arts Center and the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film both at the University of Nebraska Lincoln his alma mater. He donated huge amounts of money to the University before his death and in his will. But not to chimps… it sounds good but it never happened.

  • September 17, 2020 at 4:30 pm

    may you rest in peace johnny carson and ed machon i saw with the mupeets and jim henson

  • August 30, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Previous poster Mr. Lodge was “spot on” in his assessment of Carson’s characters skits. Confirmation can be found on Gilbert Gottfried’s podcast in Mini episodes numbered 113, 114 & 238. Really interesting stuff –

    Like my posted sighting on Buddy Rich, once saw Mr. Carson back in the early ’80s. Was driving up PCH toward Malibu and saw Johnny standing in front of his pale yellow Rolls top down convertable in his tennis whites.

    Besides that image being iconic enough, the gas station was a drop dead beautiful 1920’s Standard Oil station. Think red tile roofs, wood beams, hand carved details. Can’t remember what intersection it was at, but it was directly across PCH from the ocean. Like Buddy Rich encounter, an iconic image snapshot of a celebrity.

  • December 14, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    Johnny’s characters in skits done on The Tonight Show were grabbed from other comics. His “Art Fern” was a stolen “Reginald Van Gleason” originated by Jackie Gleason. His “Ant Blabby” was stolen from Jonathan Winters’ “Maude Frickert”. Johnny’s “Carnac” was taken from Steve Allen’s essentially identical “Answer Man” segment from his 50s The Tonight Show. Johnny also started doing Ronald Reagan impressions after banning Rich Little from further guest appearances at the time Rich himself was doing Reagan bits.

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