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Trunk
01-25-2005, 09:15 AM
Howard Stern has really been ripping on Carson the last couple of days. While he certainly isn't the best source of information, you don't need to feel like it's patently false just because he says it.

Anyway, among the things I've heard from Howard. . .

Joan Rivers said Carson never talked to her or anyone during commercials.

He wasn't friends with anyone, even Ed McMahon, who has been playing the "friend" card since his death.

Most of the people who are remembering him so fondly, none had even talked to him for about 10 years. Merv Griffin talked about how Carson basically "shut the gates" at his house.

He didn't like Leno and Leno didn't like him. He didn't even mention Leno on his farewell show.

Carson was power hungry and controlling and had certain people fired for personal slights.

Dick Cavitt said that Carson was mean when he was sober and even meaner when he was drunk.

Howard said that Carson slapped his wife in front of others.

Personally, I seem to recall that McMahon, at the time, went on Arsenio and maybe Letterman, but not on Leno.

I think it's well known that only if a comic did well would Carson ask him to come sit on the couch.

And not that any of those things make him less of a genius/entertainer which he was, but are people really "rewriting" the man in his death?

EddyTeddyFreddy
01-25-2005, 09:18 AM
It's normal when someone dies to pay tribute to the good in that person.

It's bad taste to gleefully kick the corpse, but then, that's Howard Stern for you.

JThunder
01-25-2005, 09:19 AM
I think it's well known that only if a comic did well would Carson ask him to come sit on the couch.
Why would this be a bad thing? Presumably, sitting on the couch is a special honor, not to be diluted by indiscriminately inviting everyone to hang out with Carson.

Omega Glory
01-25-2005, 09:26 AM
Is it true that he had a bi-racial granddaughter that he refused to acknowledge? A friend of mine told me this. I was skeptical, but I couldn't find anything about it either way.

voguevixen
01-25-2005, 09:27 AM
I've never been a fan, but I don't have a problem with any of those, aside from the slapping his wife. So he wasn't very friendly - that's the best you can do to dig up dirt on someone? Yeesh!

(I'm thinking it's David Letterman who never talks to his guests during commercials. Or that was the case at the beginning.)

AuntiePam
01-25-2005, 09:31 AM
He was definitely a private person, and I can see how people like Joan Rivers might not understand it, and translate it to being cold and unfriendly.

Yesterday NPR had someone on from Norfolk (?), Nebraska, where Carson was raised, and they talked about the millions of dollars that Carson gave the town over the years for various projects -- without being asked.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
01-25-2005, 09:36 AM
Too many reruns and guest hosts in the final years, so that I pretty much gave up on the show years before he left.

What really bugged me about the reruns is that they'd be too recent to be interesting as documents of the time they were made; instead, they'd only be like six months old.

Trunk
01-25-2005, 09:42 AM
I've never been a fan, but I don't have a problem with any of those, aside from the slapping his wife. So he wasn't very friendly - that's the best you can do to dig up dirt on someone? Yeesh!

Well, the point is that everyone you hear this week is saying what a wonderful guy he was.

Kind of like inviting comedians to sit on the couch. . .if every son of a bitch is a nice guy when they die, what do you do for the ones who were actually nice?

twickster
01-25-2005, 10:00 AM
I'm not hearing a lot of "geez, he was a sweetheart" stuff -- more about his importance as a TV figure, which is very much the point. There's been quite a bit of commentary on his shyness, reserve, whatever.

Steve MB
01-25-2005, 11:07 AM
It's normal when someone dies to pay tribute to the good in that person.
Methinks people are going to be really racking their brains for something to say when Howard Stern dies.


(About the only thing that occurs to me after some thought is that he sometimes had good taste in enemies.)

Diceman
01-25-2005, 11:23 AM
I think it's well known that only if a comic did well would Carson ask him to come sit on the couch.
I don't see the problem with this. Who wanted to watch Carson talk to a lousy comedian?

Methinks people are going to be really racking their brains for something to say when Howard Stern dies.
Really. When Howard Stern dies, most people are just going to shrug and say "Oh well, I never liked him much anyway." He's going to be lauded about as much as Geraldo Rivera will be.

Exapno Mapcase
01-25-2005, 11:55 AM
Of course we rewrite history when someone dies and everybody says how totally wonderful the person is. All these tributes are lies and half-truths that say nothing about the person.

I don't disbelieve anything in Trunk's post. Some of the particulars may be exaggerated or out of context, but they are consistent with what we know about Carson's character. He was a lousy drunk for many years, he was divorced nastily three times, he was extremely private to the point of aloofness, he was upset that NBC gave the show to Leno, he used his enormous power just like everybody else in Hollywood.

When Garry Shandling did The Larry Sanders Show, he obviously was spoofing the whole talk show business. But I kept hearing that it was mostly based on his experiences with Carson. That's the reality behind the curtains. The audience never wants to see it or think about it.

wolf_meister
01-25-2005, 12:27 PM
I was going to leave Mr Carson alone since he has passed on. Of course now that a negative thread has been started, I'll state my opinions.

1) He STOLE a lot of routines from others. Steve Allen originated Karnac. (Steve didn't call it Karnac but the routine was precisely what Johnny Carson did).

2) The Tea Time movie sketch was stolen from Jackie Gleason.

3) Every now and then he'd get in his "digs" about people he didn't like - particularly his ex-wives.

4) I believe he mentioned Jay Leno once (after THE decision was made). An interview was going badly and he quipped, "can someone get Leno to start now?" (Something like that.)

5) He'd complain about how hard it was to be the host of the "Tonight Show". Gee Johnny, I bet McDonald's would have given you a much better career path - paper hat, name tag and all.

6) He'd try to act like the "common guy". Example - when David Horrowitz was talking about the "Coat of Arms" scam whereby companies just made up the designs for whatever your name happened to be, Johnny felt he had been taken because he had previously ordered one. Yeah, with all those millions the phony coat of arms must have sent him to the poor house.

7) Ever wonder if it was more than just his feelings that were hurt when Leno was chosen over Letterman? At the end of the old "Late Show with David Letterman", every night there would appear in huge letters CARSON ENTERTAINMENT. I've always wondered if Letterman had been chosen, would Carson have had a "piece of that action" so to speak?

8) Ask the "Youngbloods" what they think of good old Johnny and the snippy way he announced why they would not be appearing on his show.

Well, I could say more but I'll let the man rest in peace. If you feel I've been unfair, feel free to "pounce".

Nonsuch
01-25-2005, 12:29 PM
I think an important thing to remember about Carson is that just before he "chose" to retire, the press was full of reports that NBC was about to ask him to step down, or, failing that, not renew his contract. His ratings were slipping, Johnny himself was pretty much only going through the motions, and NBC were eager to bring in some new blood (no one was then sure whether it would be Letterman or Leno). Not to dis Johnny, but he was already beginning to overstay his welcome, and it's a little irksome to hear all these tributes saying no one can helm a talk show as well as he could, when audiences at the time were plainly starting to disagree.

As for not talking to the guest during the commercial break, that's a common tactic of the talk show host; you don't want to risk losing any good stuff during the break, so you just chill for a few minutes. I know here in Chicago, Steve Dahl and Garry Meier (local radio duo for many years) never spoke to each other during the breaks. With four hours to fill, every minute of spontaneity counts.

vetbridge
01-25-2005, 12:34 PM
*checks Johnny's corpse...yep, it is cold*

Ummm...in defense of a great comedian...who in their right mind would wanna talk to Joan Rivers during a commercial break?

DMark
01-25-2005, 12:37 PM
I know I am in the minority, but I actually like Leno much better than I liked Carson..

However, I saw the Johnny Carson show live once, and he certainly did speak with his guests during the commercial breaks during the taping I attended.

My main fault with Carson was the same old schtick...same mugging at the same moment, same routines pretty much for the entire 30 year run, and some of his regular guests (Monti Rock, Kreskin, Animal Kingdom guy) were really tiring the first few times, and really got tiring the 40th time they were on the show.

Still, 30 years of night time television is one hell of an accomplishment...and like the proverbial old shoe, it was always comfortable to fall asleep with the tv timer on and the audience once again echoing, "how cold is it?"

Horatio Hellpop
01-25-2005, 12:41 PM
Carson was "aloof" because personal favors from him had huge dollar consequences and everyone he knew, saw or came within a thousand yards of wanted as many "favors" as they could muster from him. Scorsese's The King of Comedy can't have been too far off the mark, especially the "I hope you get cancer! line.

And doing the show took a physical toll on him. According to Letterman, Carson's lips were white with nervousness before every show. I have flipped burgers for a living, and I have been on stand-up comedy stages; nothing in one is even remotely comparable to the other.

Guinastasia
01-25-2005, 12:43 PM
*checks Johnny's corpse...yep, it is cold*

Ummm...in defense of a great comedian...who in their right mind would wanna talk to Joan Rivers during a commercial break?


Who in their right mind would want to talk to Joan Rivers PERIOD?

Horatio Hellpop
01-25-2005, 12:52 PM
He wasn't friends with anyone, even Ed McMahon, who has been playing the "friend" card since his death.

When McMahon kicks, we'll hear the stories of his offscreen life. Would you hang with him if you didn't heve to?

Personally, I seem to recall that McMahon, at the time, went on Arsenio and maybe Letterman, but not on Leno.

He had an open invite to come by Leno's show but has, to my knowledge, done so only once: to promote some charity he was involved with. It was a visibly perfunctory visit.

JThunder
01-25-2005, 01:12 PM
Well, I could say more but I'll let the man rest in peace. If you feel I've been unfair, feel free to "pounce".
Well, nothing you've said seems outrageously bad, and a couple of them sound like pure speculation. That's what I have to say.

Voyager
01-25-2005, 01:23 PM
Howard Stern has really been ripping on Carson the last couple of days. While he certainly isn't the best source of information, you don't need to feel like it's patently false just because he says it.

No doubt because the King of All Media is a peasant compared to Carson.



He wasn't friends with anyone, even Ed McMahon, who has been playing the "friend" card since his death.

Most of the people who are remembering him so fondly, none had even talked to him for about 10 years. Merv Griffin talked about how Carson basically "shut the gates" at his house.

Carson's privacy was well known even when he was still on. He didn't socialize much, he didn't go to parties. Lots of people in the business have totally different onstage and off-stage personas. Not news, covered in all the recent stories, and no big deal.

He didn't like Leno and Leno didn't like him. He didn't even mention Leno on his farewell show.

This is a bad thing? Letterman was his protege, so no surprise that he was unhappy at NBCs decision.


And not that any of those things make him less of a genius/entertainer which he was, but are people really "rewriting" the man in his death?

I haven't seen one article calling him a warm human being. Howard lasted on TV, what, 30 seconds? Just jealous, no doubt.

kunilou
01-25-2005, 01:25 PM
I think an important thing to remember about Carson is that just before he "chose" to retire, the press was full of reports that NBC was about to ask him to step down, or, failing that, not renew his contract. His ratings were slipping, Johnny himself was pretty much only going through the motions, and NBC were eager to bring in some new blood (no one was then sure whether it would be Letterman or Leno).

As reported in the book The Late Shift, the source of those reports was none other than Jay Leno's manager, Helen Kuschnick. The exact sequence was:

1) With Leno's contract about to expire, CBS approaches him to host a new late-night talk show.

2) Kuschnick uses that bargaining chip to negotiate a deal with NBC for Leno to take over when Carson retires.

3) With the deal in place, Kuschnick plants a story in the New York Post that NBC is unhappy with Carson.

4) Shortly thereafter, for whatever reason, Carson chooses to announce his retirement.

In fact, while Carson's ratings were slipping among younger viewers (Letterman was actually getting higher ratings in that demographic in spite of being on at a later time) his overall ratings remained strong.

Sean Factotum
01-25-2005, 01:31 PM
He didn't like Leno and Leno didn't like him. He didn't even mention Leno on his farewell show.
And Leno didn't mention him on his first show. That one goes both ways.

There was an interview with Tommy Newsom in the paper here today. (Newsom retired to the area a few years ago.) Said that even though he worked with him/for him for 30 years (Newsom was on The Tonight Show before Carson), he didn't really know him. The man, as others have said here and in other threads, was very private. But that he (Carson) did Newsom a favor by writing a very positive recommendation to put on a CD Newsom produced of band. Sounds like a nice enough guy to me.

twickster
01-25-2005, 02:03 PM
[McMahon] had an open invite to come by Leno's show but has, to my knowledge, done so only once: to promote some charity he was involved with. It was a visibly perfunctory visit.

Why would it be anything but? Why should Leno and McMahon be friends?

lee
01-25-2005, 02:05 PM
I have heard the racism charge before. One of my professors said that his standup material was racisit, at least before the Tonight Show. The only direct words of Carson that I have of race were anything but racist. I have a book with an interview where Johnny Carson speaks against racism and calls racial slurs worse than other obscenities. He also put blacks on his show in the 60s when some others apparently would not. I don't recall him making any jokes that could be seen as racist. BET is lauding him. Does anyone have anything specific and reliable?

I am especially interested because I don't remember anything on the Tonight Show being racist. If he was racist in his private dealings, I think it is an interesting choice to be less racist in his public actions. If he were racist in his public actions, I'd like to see refernce to it.

SpartanDC
01-25-2005, 02:11 PM
Joan Rivers said Carson never talked to her or anyone during commercials.
I can't remember which of the many obits it was in, but Carl Sagan, who was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show in the 1970s, said that not only would Carson chat him up during commercial breaks, but that he would also ask him about astronomical things far too complicated to be discussed on a mass-marketed talk show. Carson, of course, was quite the amateur astronomer.

So I guess the point is that he'd talk to you if he felt you actually had something interesting to say. I don't know if there was ever a time that applied to Joan Rivers.

rjung
01-25-2005, 02:27 PM
Am I the only person who misread the title and wondered why Howard Stern was ripping into Tucker Carlson? ;)

Sampiro
01-25-2005, 02:29 PM
The biracial granddaughter was a tabloid story; I have no idea whether or not it was true, but if it was the true villain in the story was Carson's son (who was accused of being a deadbeat dad). The child was on public assistance and of course the article juxtaposed pictures of Carson's mansion with pics of the public housing the child lived in. This raises a point of even if it was his grandchild, was Johnny obligated to provide a comfortable life for its mother just because she had sex with a famous millionaire's son? And if he tried to take custody of the child, that would have been a scandal- "Millionaire talkshow host tries to steal grandchild from indigent mother".

I didn't know Johnny Carson as a person- never met him and only spent a day or two in the same city with him (assuming he was there when I was). I only know him as a talk-show host. At that he was one of a kind, exuding an aura of intelligence and class and integrity that is noticeably lacking among most of his replacements (Jon Stewart coming closest to the mark). Whether he ate his young or tap-danced on kittens in his spare time I don't know or care to as I'm content to remember him as a fixture of the memes of my youth.

pulykamell
01-25-2005, 03:11 PM
Well, on the plus side (sorry for the brief hijack), he's donated $100,000 to the James Randi foundation, according to the brief article in the Sun-Times, so I forgive any character flaws he may have. :)

ianzin
01-25-2005, 03:25 PM
Allow me to just weigh in with some personal experience of the man.

I'm nobody. I'm neither important nor famous, and I live in the UK. About two years ago I got an order on my website for a book I'd written, and the order was from Johnny Carson. He didn't ask for a freebie - he actually put his credit card money down. I emailed him back, and he replied in a very genial, good-natured way. Depsite his protests, I refunded his credit card and sent him the book free of charge because I wanted to.

We exchanged a small number of brief emails over the past two years. He always replied to me promptly, with warmth and wit.

A while ago, I came back from a trip and there was a parcel waiting for me. Inside was a boxed DVD package, 'The Ultimate Carson Collection', special edition, culled from 30 years of the Tonight Show. This was a personal gift from JC himself. He sent it with a short note, just saying he hoped I enjoyed it.

I'd say that sounds like a fairly nice guy, who deserves to be remembered with respect and kindness.

As for all the carping and sniping from showbiz sources, first we wait to see how many of them enjoy success in the popular media for over 30 years, and then they can have their say.

All of the DVD material was new to me, by the way, because I'm in the UK and only get regular TV channels, which have never shown The Tonight Show. I don't much care for talk shows, but it seemed to me that JC did his job about as well as anyone could be expected to.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
01-25-2005, 03:41 PM
1) He STOLE a lot of routines from others. Steve Allen originated Karnac. (Steve didn't call it Karnac but the routine was precisely what Johnny Carson did).

To be fair, a lot of people probably stole from each other. I think his renown as a standup comic or comic actor was more for his timing and delivery.


8) Ask the "Youngbloods" what they think of good old Johnny and the snippy way he announced why they would not be appearing on his show.

Well, I could say more

You bet you could say more. Could you fill us in on the Youngbloods incident?


Here's a story I read in a backstage history of Saturday Night Live. When they were getting ready to put the first episode of SNL on the air, it turned out that Carson didn't want them to hire George Carlin as the first guest host, since Carlin was a sort of Tonight Show institution and had appeared frequently on the show over the years. Of course, the SNL folks went right ahead and put Carlin on the very first show, and Carson was naturally miffed. When he confronted Lorne Michaels about it, and asked why he had hired Carlin, the reply was "Because he fills out forms well and is punctual." :D

TeaElle
01-25-2005, 03:50 PM
No one I've seen remembering Johnny in the guise of a close friend says anything about him "closing his gates" 10 years ago. They do acknowledge that he did stop seeing people in the last 4-6 months. Both Don Rickles and Merv Griffin said that they last saw him at the end of the summer/beginning of the fall. Tom Drisen said something similar.

That, however, makes perfect sense. Johnny was clearly on steroid therapy the last time he was photographed in public; his lungs were failing. He was dying, and he wanted that process to be private and didn't want his friends to remember him enfeebled and debilitated. Dying of emphysema is ugly, scary and sad, if you had the ability to protect the people you liked from bearing witness to the process, you likely would, too.

vetbridge
01-25-2005, 03:51 PM
As for all the carping and sniping from showbiz sources, first we wait to see how many of them enjoy success in the popular media for over 30 years, and then they can have their say.

ianzin, thanks for the cool story.

Nonsuch
01-25-2005, 04:14 PM
1) He STOLE a lot of routines from others. Steve Allen originated Karnac. (Steve didn't call it Karnac but the routine was precisely what Johnny Carson did).

I thought it was understood that everyone has stolen from Steve Allen. Or at least that was how Steve Allen saw it.

Labdad
01-25-2005, 04:30 PM
You bet you could say more. Could you fill us in on the Youngbloods incident?

I posted this in another thread. I'm old enough to have actually seen the show, and remember it well:

A rather infamous moment: Back in 1969, the Youngbloods were scheduled to perform. (Buffalo Springfield had been originnally scheduled, but cancelled.) At the end of the show, Johnny said, "We were supposed to have a group called The Youngbloods perform tonight. But today during rehearsal, they didn't like their spot on the show, they didn't like the time allotted, they didn't like the set - so we told them to blow their noses and go home!"

Later, Jesse Colin Young reported that it was he who had walked out on Carson when he learned that Carson wouldn't let the band perform two songs.

In any event, the incident left such a bitter taste in Carson's mouth that it was many years before another rock band was scheduled for The Tonight Show.

AveDementia
01-25-2005, 04:33 PM
It's my understanding that each guest was told that Johnny didn't talk during commercials and not to expect it. Then if Carson wanted to, he would.

It sounds like a sensible standard operating procedure to me. I can't imagine how much asskissing might have been attempted without it. "Hey, Johnny I've this script... this idea... this party I'm having... " several times a week for 30 years. Ugh.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
01-25-2005, 04:37 PM
I posted this in another thread. I'm old enough to have actually seen the show, and remember it well:

A rather infamous moment: Back in 1969, the Youngbloods were scheduled to perform. (Buffalo Springfield had been originnally scheduled, but cancelled.) At the end of the show, Johnny said, "We were supposed to have a group called The Youngbloods perform tonight. But today during rehearsal, they didn't like their spot on the show, they didn't like the time allotted, they didn't like the set - so we told them to blow their noses and go home!"

Later, Jesse Colin Young reported that it was he who had walked out on Carson when he learned that Carson wouldn't let the band perform two songs.

In any event, the incident left such a bitter taste in Carson's mouth that it was many years before another rock band was scheduled for The Tonight Show.

Perhaps it was a generational thing, too. Carson was simply from a pre-rock generation and was far more apt to book the likes of John Davidson, Englebert Humperdinck, or Petula Clark. Steve Allen, too, for all his talent, was unbelievably scathing in his attitude towards rock 'n' roll, which he lambasted in one or more sarcasm-laden send-ups.

KGS
01-25-2005, 04:44 PM
I heard a D.J. on the radio say that Joan Rivers and Johnny Carson had a major falling out after Joan had "screwed him over", or possibly the other way around. Does anyone know what that was all about?

And it's typical for even the most despicable celebrity to get lauded upon their death -- when Nixon died, everyone treated him like he was a national hero. Heck, even Jeffrey Dahmer got sympathy when he died!!

EddyTeddyFreddy
01-25-2005, 04:45 PM
As I posted in the tribute thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=5760087#post5760087), the Johnny Carson moment that first springs to mind ifor me is an example of compassion and kindness.

Skywatcher
01-25-2005, 04:51 PM
ianzin, thanks for the cool story.Likewise.A while ago, I came back from a trip and there was a parcel waiting for me. Inside was a boxed DVD package, 'The Ultimate Carson Collection', special edition, culled from 30 years of the Tonight Show.I don't suppose it features a French-speaking, shapely, buxom blonde clad in a leotard anywere?

Skywatcher
01-25-2005, 04:54 PM
Unitard! I meant "unitard", a blue one. There might be a shapely, buxom blonde in a yellow leotard but she doesn't speak French.

Skywatcher
01-25-2005, 04:56 PM
Damn! I just realized I was right the first time, it was indeed a blue leotard.

NDP
01-25-2005, 05:16 PM
Perhaps it was a generational thing, too. Carson was simply from a pre-rock generation and was far more apt to book the likes of John Davidson, Englebert Humperdinck, or Petula Clark.
You are correct, sir! I think inter-generational friction has a lot to do with some of the expressed animosity towards Carson. For many people who came of age after the mid 60's, Carson was of the "old guard"; he was part of "The Establishment"; he was more relevent to people your parents' age than you. You can see this tension reflected in the snippy comments Lorne Michaels made about Carson over the years (and, likewise, Carson about Michaels and SNL during the early part of that show's run). That's also probably why Howard Stern's been blasting Carson these last few days (but, let's face it, aside from a few people like David Letterman, Stern generally has no respect for most celebrities--living or dead).

The story about the Youngbloods was interesting. I recall reading sometime in the late 70's that Carson actually didn't have a closed mind about rock and was even a fan of the Rolling Stones. The reason why he had a problem booking rock acts on the Tonight Show was because too many of them were insufferable prima donnas. I now think Carson was likely referring to the Youngbloods fiasco (and an earlier incident with Buffalo Springfield) when he made this comment.

Exapno Mapcase
01-25-2005, 05:18 PM
As I posted in the tribute thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=5760087#post5760087), the Johnny Carson moment that first springs to mind ifor me is an example of compassion and kindness.
To paraphrase what I said earlier, a thread consisting of nothing but negative comments is a thread of lies and half-truths just as much as the tribute threads are.

Real life is much more complicated and therefore much more interesting.

Tuckerfan
01-25-2005, 05:18 PM
No one I've seen remembering Johnny in the guise of a close friend says anything about him "closing his gates" 10 years ago. They do acknowledge that he did stop seeing people in the last 4-6 months. Both Don Rickles and Merv Griffin said that they last saw him at the end of the summer/beginning of the fall. Tom Drisen said something similar.

That, however, makes perfect sense. Johnny was clearly on steroid therapy the last time he was photographed in public; his lungs were failing. He was dying, and he wanted that process to be private and didn't want his friends to remember him enfeebled and debilitated. Dying of emphysema is ugly, scary and sad, if you had the ability to protect the people you liked from bearing witness to the process, you likely would, too.
Some months ago, I saw an interview with Ed McMahon and he stated that he'd played cards with Carson on a regular basis. He didn't talk much about Johnny's health, but he indicated that Carson was in good spirits and just enjoying not being in the spotlight.

Last night on The Tonight Show, Leno spent the entire broadcast talking about how wonderful Johnny was. Now, if Leno didn't really like Johnny, he wouldn't have to do that. He could have spent just a few minutes talking about Johnny, and then gone on with the show. Instead, Jay talked about Johnny, showed clips, and had Ed McMahon, Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, and Drew Carrey on the show to talk about Johnny.

In an interview on NPR yesterday, Dick Cavett said, "I wish I knew who had hurt Johnny so to make him such a private person." To me, that sounds like Cavett felt that whatever problems Johnny may have had, they weren't Johnny's fault.

As for Johnny saying nasty things about his ex-wives on air, well, how many people do you know who say nice things about their exes? Very few. Hell, a number of comics have made careers out of saying nasty things about their spouses and exes (Rodney Dangerfield, Henny Youngman and Phyllis Diller spring to mind).

Whatever flaws the man may have had, he brought joys to millions of people, which is more than most of us can say.

Mr. Blue Sky
01-25-2005, 05:23 PM
As for Johnny saying nasty things about his ex-wives on air, well, how many people do you know who say nice things about their exes? Very few. Hell, a number of comics have made careers out of saying nasty things about their spouses and exes (Rodney Dangerfield, Henny Youngman and Phyllis Diller spring to mind).

It didn't help that the divorces were tabloid fodder and you couldn't avoid the stories. Imagine if they had E! and so forth back them.

kunilou
01-25-2005, 05:27 PM
I heard a D.J. on the radio say that Joan Rivers and Johnny Carson had a major falling out after Joan had "screwed him over", or possibly the other way around. Does anyone know what that was all about?

In the mid-80s, Joan Rivers was the preferred guest host for Carson. The brand new Fox Network, seeking a big name, signed Rivers to host a talk show to compete with Tonight. For whatever reason (accounts differ) Rivers didn't tell Carson before the story leaked to the press.

Carson had been probably the single biggest booster of Rivers' career, and he felt she betrayed him by going up against him, and doubly betrayed that she didn't tell him before he found out like everyone else.

After Rivers left, Gary Shandling and Jay Leno (and eventually just Leno) became the "permanent" substitute hosts.

vetbridge
01-25-2005, 05:28 PM
Damn! I just realized I was right the first time, it was indeed a blue leotard.

Your eyes were probably, like mine, on something other than her clothing. ;)

Qadgop the Mercotan
01-25-2005, 07:29 PM
That's really cool, ianzin! Thanks to the SDMB, I'm now 2 degrees of separation from Johnny Carson. :D

Torgo
01-25-2005, 08:14 PM
That's really cool, ianzin! Thanks to the SDMB, I'm now 2 degrees of separation from Johnny Carson. :D

So...since Carson attended parties with Frank Sinatra, I'm 3 degrees of separation from Ol' Blue Eyes...and 5 degrees from Zeppo Marx!

danceswithcats
01-25-2005, 08:22 PM
Stern has always a been a tasteless crass oaf towards any other entertainer who is popular, apparently because he feels that no one save himself should be appreciated by a radio or TV audience. He made nasty comments about Carson, other popular FM morning DJs, because he's a self-absorbed :wally

The fact is that Howard Stern, if you take away the shock, if you take away the potty humor, is really nothing.

Carnac the Magnificent!
01-25-2005, 08:28 PM
In the mid-80s, Joan Rivers was the preferred guest host for Carson. The brand new Fox Network, seeking a big name, signed Rivers to host a talk show to compete with Tonight. For whatever reason (accounts differ) Rivers didn't tell Carson before the story leaked to the press.

Carson had been probably the single biggest booster of Rivers' career, and he felt she betrayed him by going up against him, and doubly betrayed that she didn't tell him before he found out like everyone else.

After Rivers left, Gary Shandling and Jay Leno (and eventually just Leno) became the "permanent" substitute hosts.



And when her show tanked, she lashed out and blamed everybody, asserting "maybe I'm too New York Jewish for certain people"--as if being Jewish has stymied the careers of this nation's finest comedians.

BTW, thanks for straightening out the truth regarding NBC being unhappy with Carson. Talk show hosts go through cycles of popularity. Witness Letterman and Leno.

Tuckerfan
01-25-2005, 08:36 PM
Oh yeah, I was watching Hardball tonight and found out that McMahon was a Marine and served almost right up until he started working with Johnny. Ya think that a Marine would take shit off of a Navy guy like Johnny, if Johnny treated Ed poorly? :D

JillGat
01-25-2005, 08:39 PM
Okay, here's my catty remark, based totally on speculation. People have described him as classy for walking away from the limelight the way he did. This guy was a huge smoker for many years and died from emphysema. I'm wondering if he wasn't real anxious to be seen in public with his oxygen tank.

To his credit, I used him as an excuse to my parents to stay up late many times. I save my disgust for Bob Hope, who used to think it was a real "treat" to walk on and crash the party when somebody else was an invited guest.

Mr. Blue Sky
01-25-2005, 08:39 PM
And when her show tanked, she lashed out and blamed everybody, asserting "maybe I'm too New York Jewish for certain people"--as if being Jewish has stymied the careers of this nation's finest comedians.

Yeah, it would have to be the Jewish thing. It wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that she's not funny, huh?

AveDementia
01-25-2005, 09:39 PM
To his credit, I used him as an excuse to my parents to stay up late many times. I save my disgust for Bob Hope, who used to think it was a real "treat" to walk on and crash the party when somebody else was an invited guest.

I will always have a little soft spot for Robin Williams, no matter how much I generally dislike him, because of this one time he was on the Tonight Show when Bob Hope was also a guest. Robin was doing publicity for (IIRC) the movie Toys, and was totally "on" from the moment he took his seat until they introduced the next guest. He was going so fast with the jokes everybody was laughing their asses off. And Johnny was, at times, leaning over holding on to his desk because he was laughing so hard he was about to fall out of his chair. I was rolling right along with them. It was just awesome.

And then the next guest, Bob Hope, came out. He was so pissed at having to follow that, he was just livid. And that just made it that much better. :D

Sam Stone
01-25-2005, 10:30 PM
Howard Stern has really been ripping on Carson the last couple of days. While he certainly isn't the best source of information, you don't need to feel like it's patently false just because he says it.

Anyway, among the things I've heard from Howard. . .

Joan Rivers said Carson never talked to her or anyone during commercials.


I distinctly remember numerous occasions when the Tonight Show would return from commercial and you could see Johnny and the guest in the middle of a laugh, or finishing a conversation.

I think he just didn't want to talk to Rivers, and with her ego that translated into, "he doesn't talk with anyone".


He wasn't friends with anyone, even Ed McMahon, who has been playing the "friend" card since his death.


Not true. Carson had regular poker nights where the likes of McMahon, Tom Dreesen, Chevy Chase, Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, Fred DeCordova and a handful of other friends were regulars.

It sounds to me like Johnny maintained a 'normal' life in Hollywood, where that's a sin. Most of us have a close circle of friends that we accociate with, and we don't do the cocktail circuit and hang out with different people every day. But Johnny was the King, and many celebrities would no doubt be horribly offended if they offered friendship and he didn't accept. A blow to the ego. Kind of like calling the beautiful girl in school conceited because she doesn't like YOU.


Most of the people who are remembering him so fondly, none had even talked to him for about 10 years. Merv Griffin talked about how Carson basically "shut the gates" at his house.


Yes. Johnny retired from showbiz. When he left, he maintained ties with those celebs who became close friends, and cut ties with the others who were just part of the job. Just like when people retire from the factory they don't continue to hang around it or invite the boss and co-workers over for barbecue, except for the ones who became good friends.

I imagine that to a Hollywood ego, finding out that the top dog on the block considered you 'just business', was pretty intolerable. Hence the bad faith.


He didn't like Leno and Leno didn't like him. He didn't even mention Leno on his farewell show.


Leno's problem was Helen Kushnick. He let her be his public face, and she was a total bitch, strong-arming everyone in sight. After Leno had the tonight show, there was another major incident where she was threatening guests that they'd be boycotted from The Tonight Show if they appeared on Letterman's show. I believe that eventually led to her firing, if I recall correctly. But I think she burned more than a few people around Jay. Leno himself is a guy much like Carson - very private, very 'normal'. Carson did astronomy and tennis, and Leno hides in his workshop and restores cars. From what I know, Leno worships Carson, and his monologue last night sure seemed heart felt. Perhaps Leno was a little hurt that Johnny didn't like him, if that's true. But Johnny did pick Leno to be permanent guest host (or at least accept the pick), so perhaps the stories of bad blood are exaggerations.


Carson was power hungry and controlling and had certain people fired for personal slights.


There's always two sides to any firing. I imagine that those who were fired had more than a few nasty things to say about it.


Dick Cavitt said that Carson was mean when he was sober and even meaner when he was drunk.

Howard said that Carson slapped his wife in front of others.


Those two I hadn't heard.


Personally, I seem to recall that McMahon, at the time, went on Arsenio and maybe Letterman, but not on Leno.


Perhaps Ed just felt strange going back to his 'old show' and seeing how it had changed. Perhaps he didn't want to taint his memory of the show. But in any event, he was on last night.

Sampiro
01-26-2005, 04:05 AM
I'm not saying it didn't happen, but I just can't imagine an intelligent public figure like Carson who rose from obscure beginnings in a small town equally non-close to NYC and LA to being the most famous celebrity in the nation and one who knew there would always be cameras clicking and people watching him whenever he was in public and tabloid employees literally going through his trash being stupid enough to slap his wife in public. Now he may have worked her over with a baseball bat and a CB antenna when they got home, but for the sake of his career he'd probably have refrained in front of witnesses. He seems like the type who would have been mortified by anything resembling a public scene.

bienville
01-26-2005, 04:26 AM
8) Ask the "Youngbloods" what they think of good old Johnny and the snippy way he announced why they would not be appearing on his show.

I googled "youngbloods 'tonight show' carson". Couldn't find much except a reference that they had been promised tow songs then Carson renigged- seems they chose to walk rather than just do the one song.

Can you fill us in on the details and the snippiness?

Horatio Hellpop
01-26-2005, 04:35 AM
I googled "youngbloods 'tonight show' carson". Couldn't find much except a reference that they had been promised tow songs then Carson renigged- seems they chose to walk rather than just do the one song.

Can you fill us in on the details and the snippiness?

No, and I usually don't pester people about their spelling, but you need to take care the next time you write the word "reneged."

bienville
01-26-2005, 04:47 AM
8) Ask the "Youngbloods" what they think of good old Johnny and the snippy way he announced why they would not be appearing on his show.

Oops! Labdad covered it in post#35. Shoulda kept reading.

todd33rpm
01-26-2005, 06:17 AM
Joan Rivers said Carson never talked to her or anyone during commercials.

I may be able to clarify this a little bit, myself.

I host a Sunday morning program with acoustic music, album cuts, odds and ends, and occasionally I do interviews on the program with whatever musician or group happens to be in the area. My general rule of thumb is that I never do much chit-chat during a commercial break or in setup, because I want to be genuinely surprised by what the interviewee has to say.

If I go on the air knowing in advance that the folks in Nickel Creek have recorded an album with Glen Phillips of Toad The Wet Sprocket, I can't sound authentically impressed by the news. Some of us are really bad actors, and it's not a chance I'm willing to take if I can avoid it. I don't know if Carson/Letterman/whoever would do it for the same reasons, but it's possible.

Yeah, I know Carson had people pre-interviewed, as does Letterman, and I assume Leno and everyone else...but I've always understood that those pre-interviews are simply to establish what questions will be acceptable to the interviewee.

For what it's worth, none of my interview subjects appeared to be distressed by my approach; they understood that I wouldn't idly talk for a very good reason. I'd keep it to "do you need more coffee" or the weather, and they seemed fine with it. I suspect somebody like Joan Rivers wouldn't necessarily understand that.

Shirley Ujest
01-26-2005, 06:41 AM
Whatever flaws the man may have had, he brought joys to millions of people, which is more than most of us can say.

Exactly! The man spent thirty years, every night for most of the year, making people laugh. He was consistant, intelligent and classy. that is alot of pressue, a kind of pressure that mere mortals can not imagine. Because if you fark up your job it is on national TV and in the tabloids. He was entitled to some privacy.


Also, IIRC, the jabs he took at his ex-wives were really about himself, not really making fun of them, but his own foibles. I may be wrong. But one of the top rules in comedy is make fun of yourself. Laugh at yourself and everyone laughs with you.

Ianzin Great, great story. thank you for sharing! Did Johnny like your book?

singular1
01-26-2005, 06:58 AM
I'm not saying it didn't happen, but I just can't imagine an intelligent public figure like Carson who rose from obscure beginnings in a small town equally non-close to NYC and LA to being the most famous celebrity in the nation and one who knew there would always be cameras clicking and people watching him whenever he was in public and tabloid employees literally going through his trash being stupid enough to slap his wife in public. Now he may have worked her over with a baseball bat and a CB antenna when they got home, but for the sake of his career he'd probably have refrained in front of witnesses. He seems like the type who would have been mortified by anything resembling a public scene.

You have to keep in mind that this happened in the fifties, when the tabloids actually gave some celebrities some slack and slapping your wife around wasn't quite the offense it is today. The incident happened at a cocktail party thrown by a bunch of her friends, and they got in a fight out on the verandah. The hitting was seen through the glass door, but they had at least gone outside.

To my way of thinking, a guy hits one woman, he probably hits others, especially through 3 failed marraiges.....

Sean Factotum
01-26-2005, 08:38 AM
Leno's problem was Helen Kushnick. He let her be his public face, and she was a total bitch, strong-arming everyone in sight. After Leno had the tonight show, there was another major incident where she was threatening guests that they'd be boycotted from The Tonight Show if they appeared on Letterman's show. IWasn't it Arsenio Hall's show, not Letterman? Because, IIRC, At that time Letterman still followed Leno on NBC.

Sampiro
01-26-2005, 09:28 AM
Wasn't it Arsenio Hall's show, not Letterman? Because, IIRC, At that time Letterman still followed Leno on NBC.

It was both. Kushnick would blacklist any celebrity who appeared on Letterman, Hall, Dennis Miller or any of the other pop-up shows. Dennis Miller blamed the demise of his show on her (he couldn't get guests) and went for years without speaking to Leno (who had once been a friend- they've now mended fences and Miller has long since donned the mass media equivalent of short-shorts and a tube-top and become a major airtime whore).

Does anybody remember the Entertainment Weekly cover from this time in which Arsenio proudly announces "I'm gonna kick Jay Leno's Ass!"? Up there with "Peace in our time" and "Who would need a computer for the home?".

Paul in Qatar
01-26-2005, 09:55 AM
Also, ianzin, thanks for the cool story.

Good stuff.

FriarTed
01-26-2005, 02:50 PM
Since this is the one Johnny thread remaining on the front page of Cafe Society, a nice tribute by comid Larry Miller...

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/178drsnb.asp

ianzin
01-26-2005, 03:24 PM
Ianzin Great, great story. thank you for sharing! Did Johnny like your book? Er, I think so. Like I said, we only exchanged a few brief emails, so it's not as if he came out with any great praise or anything. But his tone was always friendly, warm, witty and - IMHO - refreshingly humble.

rowrrbazzle
01-26-2005, 03:54 PM
In the mid-80s, Joan Rivers was the preferred guest host for Carson. The brand new Fox Network, seeking a big name, signed Rivers to host a talk show to compete with Tonight. For whatever reason (accounts differ) Rivers didn't tell Carson before the story leaked to the press.

Carson had been probably the single biggest booster of Rivers' career, and he felt she betrayed him by going up against him, and doubly betrayed that she didn't tell him before he found out like everyone else.IIRC, Rivers said that, even though they said they wanted to keep her, de Cordova kept making only short-term agreements, as though they were in doubt, leaving her essentially up in the air. Fox was willing to go with something definite, so she made her choice. The news was leaked before she had a chance to talk to Carson, and when she called to explain, he just hung up on her without saying anything.

For something that some might consider more controversial, read this Metafilter thread: Two Johnny Carson Clips You Won't See on CNN This Week (http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/38973)

Number
01-26-2005, 09:48 PM
Yesterday NPR had someone on from Norfolk (?), Nebraska, where Carson was raised, and they talked about the millions of dollars that Carson gave the town over the years for various projects -- without being asked.Yep, it's spelled Norfolk but usually pronounced "Norfork" due to an old bureaucratic mixup (http://www.ci.norfolk.ne.us/about/).

In 1881, the Village of Norfolk was organized. The settlers proclaimed “North Fork” to be their permanent post office address, named after the river, but suggested “Norfork” as the simplest compounding of “North Fork”. Postal authorities thinking the word had been misspelled, changed the spelling to “Norfolk”.
I doubt you'll find too many people from there posting in this thread. Johnny did a lot of nice things for that town.

Mr. Blue Sky
01-26-2005, 10:00 PM
For something that some might consider more controversial, read this Metafilter thread: Two Johnny Carson Clips You Won't See on CNN This Week (http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/38973)

The clip featuring Don Rickles was from the time Johnny went after Rickles for breaking his cigarette box. The "black man" bit was just Johnny mocking Rickles' act. For anyone who has never seen Rickles' act, it would be slightly shocking. If there was ever a non-PC comedian, it was Rickles.


(that's the most times I've typed Rickles at one time)

The Punkyova
01-26-2005, 10:13 PM
Over on Mark Evanier's weblog (http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2005_01_25.html#009477), he has a post sort-of about this. In essence, he says that Johnny Carson was a very powerful person in Hollywood, and that because of that, people were genuinely afraid of him. Anyone who got on his bad side was likely to suffer professionally. Plus, people were always trying to get him to help them in some way. It was probably easier for him to be a very private person.

zoogirl
01-26-2005, 10:57 PM
Perhaps it was a generational thing, too. Carson was simply from a pre-rock generation and was far more apt to book the likes of John Davidson, Englebert Humperdinck, or Petula Clark. Steve Allen, too, for all his talent, was unbelievably scathing in his attitude towards rock 'n' roll, which he lambasted in one or more sarcasm-laden send-ups.

Over on the Alice Cooper boards they've got up an audio recording of Alice's 1977 appearance on the Tonight Show. It's just hilarious.

Alice had just done a "Talent Search" for a snake to take on his "Lace And Whiskey" tour. He'd brought along pictures of the contestants as well as the winner - a large Boa named Angel.

Alice took Angel out of her container to meet Johnny. Apparently Johnhy had no fear of snakes and was quite willing to hold Angel. Angel was also quite willing to hold Johnny! She somehow got her tail wrapped in the mic cord and the two of them spent the next few minutes trying to extricate Angel from Johnny. Alice was giggling like a fool, Johnny was laughing and the audience were busting a collective gut! :) Gee, I wish there was video to go with it.

I'm not sure I should link it because I don't know who owns it but Googling Johnny and Alice together ought to bring it up.

(The best part? Johnny asked where Alice was off to next and he said "Vancouver". I was at that show! :D )

Anyway, by '77 he certainly WAS willing to have on a Rock act and an extremely controversial one, at that.

Flamsterette_X
01-26-2005, 11:21 PM
No, and I usually don't pester people about their spelling, but you need to take care the next time you write the word "reneged."

Seconded, and I usually do. :D

Starving Artist
01-26-2005, 11:41 PM
I've been a huge fan of Carson's for decades and I've spent literally thousands of hours watching him. For quite a while I regarded him as a role model. He was a huge success who didn't let his success go to his head; he didn't throw his weight around, at least not like another of my idols, Frank Sinatra; he had his feet on the ground and didn't seem at all interested in his own celebrity or in that of the people he knew; he worked out all the time, saw his doctors regularly, and took care of himself; he was incredibly smart, had many interests and hobbies, and preferred to live a relatively "normal" life.

Regarding Joan Rivers and The Youngbloods, both issues were addressed in Fred de Cordova's book, Johnny Came Lately, which I used to have. According to de Cordova, Carson wasn't unhappy with Rivers for getting a show with Fox. He was unhappy with her because she tried to hire members of Carson's own staff! She even tried hiring de Cordova himself and when he declined she told him that there would always be an opening for him if he changed his mind. Carson got wind of all this, and when Rivers called to tell him about her new show, he hung up on her. But it wasn't because of her success or the fact that she was going up against him (he had many friends who had gone up against him and remained friends: Joey Bishop; Jerry Lewis; Dick Cavett; etc.), it was that he was quite rightly pissed that she was so disloyal as to try to hire his own people out from under him.

As for the Youngbloods, according to de Cordova, Carson had a closed-circuit t.v. in his office so that he could monitor goings-on on the set while the show was being readied each day. de Cordova said the band had been giving grief to the show's director all afternoon, complaining about this and demanding that and just generally being demanding and difficult. Finally, Carson had enough and went down to the set himself and told them to wipe their noses and go home. IIRC, de Cordova said this was the only time Carson ever did that.

And I have no memory at all of Carson having a problem with rock musicians. I remember when he had Jimi Hendrix on. Hendrix himself, however, seemed excruciatingly ill at ease among all the high-powered, successful showbiz types he found himself trying to chat with and he bailed during the commercial break prior to his second song. Carson never said a word about it and just carried on with the rest of the show as if it had never happened.

NDP
01-27-2005, 12:34 AM
...

As for the Youngbloods, according to [Fred] de Cordova, Carson had a closed-circuit t.v. in his office so that he could monitor goings-on on the set while the show was being readied each day. de Cordova said the band had been giving grief to the show's director all afternoon, complaining about this and demanding that and just generally being demanding and difficult. Finally, Carson had enough and went down to the set himself and told them to wipe their noses and go home. IIRC, de Cordova said this was the only time Carson ever did that.

And I have no memory at all of Carson having a problem with rock musicians. I remember when he had Jimi Hendrix on. Hendrix himself, however, seemed excruciatingly ill at ease among all the high-powered, successful showbiz types he found himself trying to chat with and he bailed during the commercial break prior to his second song. Carson never said a word about it and just carried on with the rest of the show as if it had never happened.
I mentioned this earlier, but I think problem Carson had with many rock acts was not so much their music as their attitudes which he regarded as unprofessional. The episode with The Youngbloods certainly illustrates this. (Now, I realize this happened during the 60's when every little tiff between somebody from the "counterculture" and somebody over 30 seemed like full-blown inter-generational warfare, but they really needed to get over themselves. I mean, they weren't The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, they were The Youngbloods for God's sake.) Alice Cooper, on the other hand, obviously never took himself seriously and (as zoogirl recalls) proved to be a much better guest.

Leno's problem was Helen Kushnick. He let her be his public face, and she was a total bitch, strong-arming everyone in sight. After Leno had the tonight show, there was another major incident where she was threatening guests that they'd be boycotted from The Tonight Show if they appeared on Letterman's show. I believe that eventually led to her firing, if I recall correctly. But I think she burned more than a few people around Jay.
Actually, Carson (or his producers) could also play hardball against their competitors when securing guests if they chose to. That's one reason why Joan Rivers and Alan Thicke had such a hard time getting good guests, (Well, that and the fact both shows sucked.) Kushnick's mistake, according to The Late Shift, was that she did so in an abrasive and strident manner whereas Carson's people apparently employed more subtle methods.

Skywatcher
01-27-2005, 11:34 AM
For anyone who has never seen Rickles' act, it would be slightly shocking. If there was ever a non-PC comedian, it was Rickles.You might say his entire act is a play on words (ridicule/Rickles).

CalMeacham
01-27-2005, 11:59 AM
Although several people have seconded the notion that Ed McMahon never appeared on Leno's show, it's not true! I very clearly remember him appearing on Leno (well before Carsion's death). It seemed all the stranger to me that Carson never appeared on Leno, although he did appear on Letterman (and, I now learn, occasionally wrote jokes for Letterman). At the time that Carson was still running the Tonight Show, I never got the impression of any dislike there at all. Not only was Leno the permanent guest host, but IIRC Carson wanted to have a Letterman-Leno debate on his show.

Of course, I have no idea what went on behind the scenes, and I'm not sure I should believe the books writen about it.



For what it's worth, despite what prevailing opinion seems to be, I like Leno and his style, and think it's a lot closer to Carson's thyan Letterman is (In his early years, I'm surprised none of the guests stood up and popped Letterman on the nose).

Horatio Hellpop
01-27-2005, 11:59 AM
Regarding Joan Rivers and The Youngbloods, both issues were addressed in Fred de Cordova's book, Johnny Came Lately, which I used to have. According to de Cordova, Carson wasn't unhappy with Rivers for getting a show with Fox. He was unhappy with her because she tried to hire members of Carson's own staff! She even tried hiring de Cordova himself and when he declined she told him that there would always be an opening for him if he changed his mind. Carson got wind of all this, and when Rivers called to tell him about her new show, he hung up on her. But it wasn't because of her success or the fact that she was going up against him (he had many friends who had gone up against him and remained friends: Joey Bishop; Jerry Lewis; Dick Cavett; etc.), it was that he was quite rightly pissed that she was so disloyal as to try to hire his own people out from under him.


Another substantial difference, of course, was that Joey Bishop, Dick Cavett, Jerry Lewis et al never went up against Johnny during his 11:30 time slot; I doubt Johnny would've had a problem with Joan Rivers if her show had been in prime time (and kept her mitts off his staffers).

Labdad
01-27-2005, 12:33 PM
Another substantial difference, of course, was that Joey Bishop, Dick Cavett, Jerry Lewis et al never went up against Johnny during his 11:30 time slot...

Well Cavett certainly did. He was on ABC at 11:30 Eastern while Carson was on NBC. During my college years (1969-1973), we watched Cavett almost exclusively.

NDP
01-27-2005, 01:10 PM
Another substantial difference, of course, was that Joey Bishop, Dick Cavett, Jerry Lewis et al never went up against Johnny during his 11:30 time slot...

Well Cavett certainly did. He was on ABC at 11:30 Eastern while Carson was on NBC. During my college years (1969-1973), we watched Cavett almost exclusively.
Cavett later had a show on PBS that generally aired in the early evening. I think that's the one Krokodil's referring to. As for Cavett's ABC show, although it competed directly with Carson (as did Merv Griffin on CBS for a few years), his show (as recall from my early memories and recollections of my parents) was more intellectual, more political, and more controversial (in the sense that it delved into "taboo" topics). Thus, it was likely considered so sufficiently different that that Carson never employed "if-you-do-his-show-you-can't-do-my-show" tactics against him. In contrast, competitors like Joan Rivers and Alan Thicke were more of a direct--and personal--challenge. Rivers has already been discussed but the train-wreck that was "Thicke of the Night" is also noteworthy. Thicke's show was produced by former NBC head Fred Silverman. When Silverman was running NBC (mostly into the ground), Carson used to needle him mercilessly (as did SNL but that's another story) and--at one point--was supposedly considering jumping to another network when his contract with NBC expired in 1980. Silverman apparently is somebody who isn't above not holding grudges, so many in the industry viewed his involvement in "Thicke of the Night" as an attempt to get back at Carson. Of course, the Silverman-produced "Thicke of the Night" turned out to be no more successful in dethroning Carson as the "King of Late Night" than the Silverman-run NBC was in getting out of the ratings cellar. As stated earlier, one (of many) reasons for its failure was the strong-arm tactics used by Carson and his people to get choice guests for The Tonight Show.

NDP
01-27-2005, 01:14 PM
Oh, crap! :smack: That should read:

Silverman apparently is somebody who isn't above holding grudges ...

Wendell Wagner
01-27-2005, 11:32 PM
Tuckerfan writes:

> Hell, a number of comics have made careers out of saying nasty things about
> their spouses and exes (Rodney Dangerfield, Henny Youngman and Phyllis Diller
> spring to mind).

Rodney Dangerfield never made jokes about any real spouse or ex-spouse of his. I don't know how much you know about his biography. He had a career of a dozen or so years the first time. Then his first wife died. In so far as I know, it was a happy marriage and he didn't draw from it in his later jokes. He quit show business for a dozen or so years and worked as a salesman. At 45 he returned to show business (and with the new name of "Rodney Dangerfield"). He decided to create a new persona as a comedian who never got any respect from other people. It was necessary to the routine that he made jokes about a wife who didn't respect him either, but it had nothing to do with his late wife. It was many years before he remarried, and the jokes (which he had pretty much quit telling by that time) had nothing to do with his relationship to his second wife either.

I know less about Henny Youngman or Phyllis Diller, but I don't think that their jokes about their spouses had anything to do with their real spouses either.

Tuckerfan
01-28-2005, 03:44 PM
My point was that other comics said nasty things about their spouses, whether or not their spouses were fictional or the stories they were recounting were fictional or not is irrelevant because in pre-internet days how many people would know if the comic was even married? They said it because it was funny, just the same as Carson.

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