Forever the King Of Late Night

 

He’s the undisputed heavyweight of late night talk show television. All of the genre’s understudies from Letterman and Leno to the two Jimmys, Fallon and Kimmel, will unabashedly attest that Johnny Carson was the trailblazer behind the desk who created the ultimate blueprint for a successful hour-long talk show.

Johnny’s guests ran the gamut of Hollywood stars, athletes, entertainers and personalities through 30 years on The Tonight Show. With the help of sidekick Ed McMahon, Carson was a can’t-miss event every weekday night at 11:30 pm.

Johnny Carson. The Tonight Show, Tribute, Birthday, Reign Man, Reign Magazine

With Johnny slated to have turned 89 this week, Reign Man looks back at a few of the “Carson Classics” from various guests, including an inebriated mainstay, that still have us laughing and remembering the good ol’ days when the American icon from Norfolk, Nebraska was reigning over late night television.

Johnny Carson. The Tonight Show, Tribute, Birthday, Reign Man, Reign Magazine, Ed McMahon

Let’s start in-house with Ed.

One of our favorite scenes is the result of a drinking lunch Mr. McMahon indulged in before a show. What transpires is an attempt to keep things appearing status quo with Johnny until it was just too much to handle. Johnny’s facial expressions and eye rolling to the camera take this segment to another level.

 

Johnny Carson. The Tonight Show, Tribute, Birthday, Reign Man, Reign Magazine, Frank Sinatra, Don Rickles

Then there was the time Johnny and Frank Sinatra were interrupted by Don Rickles who wanted to bring The Chairman of the Board up-to-date on some mob activity…

 

Jane Fonda came on and addressed an alleged past exchange between Johnny and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Whether the account was true or not, it’s undoubtedly a comic gem…

JohnnyCarsonAnimal

Sometimes it merely took animals of the four-legged variety to leave Carson’s crowd in stitches. Time and time again, Johnny played the perfect fallguy to these unpredictable guests…

It wasn’t uncommon for Johnny to have a star-studded line up on any given evening. Imagine having to be the last guest to join a dais that already included Carson, Bobe Hope and Dean Martin. George Gobel turned the situation into one of the all-time great lines. For us, brown shoes have always reminded us of this epic segment.

Johnny Carson. The Tonight Show, Tribute, Birthday, Reign Man, Reign Magazine

Actor Charles Grodin came on the show back in September of 1990 and ended up calling out Carson about how much Johnny really cared about the guests who came on, specifically Grodin himself. What ensued was a hilariously honest answer from the host who’s just trying to get back home to Malibu after each broadcast.

Actor Albert Brooks’ appearance gave us a whole new appreciation for the classic Speak & Spell. Watch him carry out an impressive interview with the electronic gadget for Johnny…