alibi online
Weekly Alibi PodcastFree Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals
 V.14 No.4 | January 27 - February 2, 2005 

Idiot Box

In Memorium

Johnny Carson: TV God

The entertainment industry took an emotional hit last Sunday when it was announced that retired talk show king Johnny Carson had passed away from complications of emphysema.

Carson had been out of the public spotlight for quite a while after his retirement from the business back in 1992. Those who grew up in the post-Carson era may have been unaware of his impact, but anyone who watched television from the '60s through the '90s came of age with Carson as one of the primary Idiot Box icons.

Carson was born in Iowa and raised in Nebraska, a real heartland kind of guy, which may account for his near universal appeal. He started out in radio, but soon moved to television, where he hosted a series of talk shows and game shows. Eventually, he landed a gig writing for comedian Red Skelton's popular comedy/variety show. Carson's first big break came one night when Skelton injured his back and was unable to go on stage. Carson took over and the rest is history.

One of the most life-changing events in Carson's life came in 1959 when, on the daytime talk show “Who Do You Trust?,” he was paired with announcer/straight man Ed McMahon. The two formed a friendship that was among the longest lasting and most visible in show business. Carson's second life-changing event came in 1962 when Jack Parr retired as host of NBC's “Tonight Show.” A frequent guest host, Carson replaced his predecessor and went on to become the most successful man in late night television.

For 30 extremely successful years, Carson was the unchallenged king. He chatted with actors, politicians and ordinary people with equal ease and good humor. He won six Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. He launched the careers of countless comedians--from Bill Cosby to Joan Rivers to David Letterman to Jerry Seinfeld. There was a time in America when getting on “The Tonight Show” was the surest sign that a comedian had arrived. Until you got booked across the desk from Carson, you were not a professional comedian. “Every solid comedian today really got their break on the Carson show,” Rivers recently told CNN.

Carson withdrew from the world of opening monologues and comedy skits in 1992, handed the show over to Jay Leno and all but disappeared from public view. He resisted many pleas to come back to show business, even refusing to appear on the “Tonight Show” 50th anniversary special. Carson said simply that fame and fortune had already graced him, and he had no need for any more of either. “I have an ego like anybody else,” admitted Carson to the Washington Post in 1993. “But I don't need to be stoked by going before the public all the time.”

For anyone above drinking age, Carson was nothing short of a landmark figure. His image flickered at the foot of countless beds. For generations, being able to extend your bedtime late enough to catch his opening monologue was the surest sign of dwindling childhood. To say he will be missed is beside the point. Television has been missing him for 13 years.


Tom Joad returns to his home after a jail sentence to find his family kicked out of their farm due to foreclosure. A film series in partnership with the Albuquerque Museum's Route 66 exhibit.

La lengua de las mariposas/Butterfly at National Hispanic Cultural Center


Captain America: The Winter Soldier at South Broadway Cultural Center

More Recommended Events ››
Join our mailing list for exclusive info, the week's events and free stuff!

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • Latest Posts
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Rocksquawk Discussions
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Latest User Posts
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Upcoming Alibi Picks
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.
    TroyBoi Live
    TroyBoi Live6.11.2016