JOHNNY CARSON passes away at 79

by Mark Walters

Over the years there have been many memorable television personalities, but none as beloved as the late night comedy legend Johnny Carson.  Jack Parr started the late night talk show concept, and Carson took over from him in 1962.  Johnny hosted over 4500 episodes of THE TONIGHT SHOW, becoming a staple in the lives of American TV viewers.  People often talk about "going to bed with Johnny" every night.  Few TV hosts were as adored as Carson, and by people of all ages.  He stepped down from the job in 1992.  Carson was hoping that his friend and protégé David Letterman would take over the job.  But NBC had different plans, and Jay Leno was selected to follow in the host's footsteps.  Just last week it was coming out that Johnny had frequently been sending Letterman jokes to use on THE LATE SHOW.  Dave said in a statement on Sunday "It is a sad day for his family and for the country.  He was the best - a star and a gentleman."  Carson had been a smoker for many years, and announced that he had emphysema in 2002.  Since retiring he kept a low profile, and remained very private about his personal life.  THE TONIGHT SHOW won seven emmys, and was nominated 42 times during Carson's run.  The show gave a start to the careers of comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby, David Brenner, George Carlin, Garry Shandling, and David Letterman.  It is said that 50 million people watched his final episode in 1992.  Johnny's final words on that show were "And so it has come to this. I am one of the lucky people in the world. I found something that I always wanted to do and I have enjoyed every single minute of it.  I bid you a very heartfelt goodnight."  Carson passed away Sunday morning, January 23rd of emphysema.  He was 79 years old.

We'll miss you Johnny.



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