Johnny Carson

Talk Show Host
Hometown the United States
Died Nov 23, 2005
Death Place State of California
Height 5' 10½" (1...
Nationality American
Alma Mater Millsaps College,...
High School Norfolk High Scho...
Other Names Carson, John William

John William "Johnny" Carson was an American television host and comedian, known for thirty years as host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962–1992). Carson received six Emmy Awards, including the Governor Award, and a 1985 Peabody Award; he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987. Johnny Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1993.… Read More

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News + Updates

Browse recent news and stories about Johnny Carson.

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Johnny Carson.


1925 Birth Carson was born in Corning, Iowa, on October 23, 1925, to Homer Lloyd "Kit" Carson, a power company manager, and Ruth (Hook) Carson, who was of part Irish descent. … Read More


1943 17 Years Old Carson joined the Naval Air Corps on June 8, 1943, received V-12 officer training at Columbia University and Millsaps College. … Read More


1948 - 1951 4 More Events
1953 27 Years Old In 1953 comic Red Skelton—a fan of Carson's "cult success" low-budget sketch comedy show, Carson's Cellar (1951 to 1953) on KNXT—asked Carson to join his show as a writer.
1954 28 Years Old In 1954 Skelton during rehearsal accidentally knocked himself unconscious an hour before his live show began, and Carson successfully filled in for him.
1955 29 Years Old In 1955, Jack Benny invited Carson to appear on one of his programs during the opening and closing segments. … Read More


1958 32 Years Old In 1958 he appeared as a guest star in an episode entitled "Do You Trust Your Wife" on NBC's short-lived variety show, The Polly Bergen Show. … Read More
…  Bob Newhart, Jackie Gleason, Groucho Marx, and Joey Bishop all declined as well, but NBC finally convinced Carson to sign by early February 1962.
1963 37 Years Old Carson got a "quickie" Mexican divorce from Wolcott that year and married Joanne Copeland on August 17, 1963. After a second protracted divorce proceeding in 1972, Copeland received a settlement of $6000 per month in alimony until she remarried or until Johnny's death (she received it until his death in 2005). … Read More


1970 - 1971 2 More Events
1972 46 Years Old 1 More Event
Even though Carson's program was based in Burbank beginning in 1972, NBC's editing and production services for the program were located in New York, resulting in the requirement that Carson's program be transmitted from Burbank to New York. … Read More
1973 47 Years Old In December 1973, Carson joked on Tonight about an alleged shortage of toilet paper. … Read More
1974 48 Years Old Carson apologized in January 1974 for the incident, which became what The New York Times called a "classic study" of how rumors spread. … Read More


1979 53 Years Old Carson was head of a group of investors who purchased and operated two television stations. The first was KVVU-TV in Henderson, Nevada, an independent station serving Las Vegas, acquired by the Carson group in 1979. … Read More
1982 56 Years Old Carson's second station, independent KNAT-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico was purchased in 1982. … Read More
1985 59 Years Old 1 More Event
Carson sold both of his stations between 1985 and 1986, with KVVU going to Meredith Corporation and KNAT being sold to Trinity Broadcasting Network. … Read More


1987 61 Years Old On June 20, 1987, Carson married Alexis Maas.
1991 65 Years Old Carson had three sons, Christopher, Cory and Richard. All three sons were from his first marriage. Richard Carson died on June 21, 1991, when his car plunged down a steep embankment along a paved service road off Highway 1 near Cayucos, California. … Read More
1992 66 Years Old 1 More Event
…  Johnny Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1993. … Read More
1996 70 Years Old …  Carson was the first person to contact Sagan's wife Ann Druyan with condolences when the scientist died in 1996. … Read More
1999 73 Years Old On March 19, 1999, Carson suffered a severe heart attack at his home in Malibu, California and was hospitalized in nearby Santa Monica where he underwent quadruple-bypass surgery. … Read More
2002 76 Years Old He was 79, and had revealed his terminal illness to the public in September 2002. … Read More
At 6:50 AM PST on January 23, 2005, Carson died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of respiratory failure arising from emphysema.
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