Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson

Original Name John William Carson
Corning, Adams County, Iowa, USA
Death 23 Jan 2005 (aged 79)
West Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend
Memorial ID 10361659 · View Source
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Entertainer, Television Host, Comedian. Born in Corning, Iowa, he moved with his family to nearby Norfolk, Nebraska when he was eight-years-old. At age 14, Carson began his act as the magician "The Great Carsoni" for the local Rotary Club in his hometown. During World War II, he served in the Navy for two years as an Ensign. He was a radio-drama major at the University of Nebraska. He hosted his first radio program, "The Squirrel's Nest", at WOW in Omaha. Moving to Hollywood in the early 1950s, he began his television career with "Carson's Cellar", a comedy-variety-talk show. He was a writer for "The Red Skelton Show" and the host of quiz show, "The Johnny Carson Show". Teaming up with long-time sidekick Ed McMahon in 1958, he hosted the daytime game show, "Who Do You Trust?". He tried his hand at dramatic acting, appearing in "Three Men on a Horse" during the inaugural season of "Playhouse 90". In 1960, he shot a pilot for a prime-time TV series, "Johnny Come Lately," but that was not picked-up by a network. He succeeded Jack Paar as host of “The Tonight Show” on October 1, 1962. Over his career he hosted a number of network television specials, including the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards, and performed stand-up comedy at the top hotels in Las Vegas. In the early 1970s, TV Guide reported that Carson was earning $2 million a year, making him the highest paid TV entertainer ever; this was a record he repeatedly surpassed, making a then-record $5 million annual salary in the 1980s. He was beloved by his viewers and guests, along with the legions of young comics whose careers were launched on "The Tonight Show". He married four times: Jody Wolcott in 1948 and divorced in 1963, then married Joanne Copeland, next Joanna Holland and last to Alexis Maas in 1987. He had three children by his first wife. He spent the last decade of his life in retirement in Malibu, California. Unlike every other TV star, he remained on top until the very end with the show winning its ratings period every year for 30 years. When Carson retired, his last appearance was one of the highest rated late night TV shows ever. He suffered from emphysema and had quadruple bypass surgery in 1999. He died peacefully at the age of 79 surrounded by his family and friends.

Bio by: Jane Stacy Eubanks

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 23 Jan 2005
  • Find a Grave Memorial 10361659
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Johnny Carson (23 Oct 1925–23 Jan 2005), Find a Grave Memorial no. 10361659, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.