R.I.P. JOHNNY CARSONFrom MSNBC: "Johnny Carson, longtime host of ‘Tonight Show,’ dies at 79":
"Johnny Carson, the “Tonight Show” host who served America a smooth nightcap of celebrity banter, droll comedy and heartland charm for 30 years, died Sunday. He was 79.
“Mr. Carson passed away peacefully early Sunday morning,” his nephew, Jeff Sotzing, told The Associated Press. “He was surrounded by his family, whose loss will be immeasurable.”
He did not provide further details, but NBC said Carson died of emphysema at his Malibu home.
The boyish-looking Nebraska native with the disarming grin, who survived every attempt to topple him from his late-night talk show throne, was a star who managed never to distance himself from his audience.
His wealth, the adoration of his guests — particularly the many young comics whose careers he launched — the wry tales of multiple divorces: Carson’s air of modesty made it all serve to enhance his bedtime intimacy with viewers.
“Heeeeere’s Johnny!” was the booming announcement from sidekick Ed McMahon that ushered Carson out to the stage. Then the formula: the topical monologue, the guests, the broadly played skits such as “Carnac the Magnificent.”
But America never tired of him; Carson went out on top when he retired in May 1992."
Though I started watching late-night television around 1990, two years before Johnny Carson retired, Johnny Carson was someone I knew mainly from clips and appearances on and references to him on other TV shows. When I started watching late-night TV, I watched The Arsenio Hall Show, because that was about the only late-night talk show I could get off the little antenna on the mini-television in my bedroom, since The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson was on WPTZ-5 in Plattsburgh NY, too far to watch from Pincourt without having your television hooked up to an outdoor aerial.
But, still, even if I don't honestly have many memories of watching Johnny Carson live, I still respected him for the massive television icon he was for three decades. He didn't invent late night television, but he made it mainstream so that those of us who aren't in bed by midnight have something to watch. And, as a very shy person myself, Johnny Carson, who never overcame his own shyness but who dealt with it successfully enough to appear casual and at ease on television talking to celebrities who would no doubt intimidate me, was kind of an inspiration.
Anyway, as my little tribute to Johnny Carson, I will link to the first chapter of Stephen King's unfinished novel, "The Reploids", about the host of the Tonight Show in a parellel universe somehow showing up on Johnny Carson's set in our own universe, not realizing that anything is amiss.