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Note to Heaven: 'Here's Johnny!'

By® Staff

Originally Posted

Johnny Carson, host of "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" on NBC-TV from Oct 62 until Mar 92, died Sunday morning at age 79.

He succeeded Steve Allen and Jack Paar; was barely tested by Arsenio and some second-raters; and was followed by Dave and Jay, who got their starts -- and even their shows and millions -- because of Johnny; and Dennis and Jon and Conan; but his 30-year career as "the king of late-night television" has never been, and very likely never will be, equaled.

Johnny's unscripted repartee with sidekick Ed McMahon (whom we thank for our headline idea), nearly 24,000 guests, bandleaders Skitch Henderson and Doc Severinsen, unparalleled monologs (16 to 20 jokes each night), extraordinary comic timing, and Midwestern warmth and sensibilities led this very private man to become what Aaron Barnhart of The Kansas City Star justifiably called "the greatest entertainer that the medium of television ever produced."

We can't decide if our favorite Tonight Show bit is Ed Ames' "Tomahawk Toss," or George Gobel's classic "brown shoes" comment, or Jack Webb and "The Copper Clapper Caper" [Okay, okay.  That's doubtless our favorite.], or any of hundreds of "How cold was it?" responses from the audience, but it really doesn't matter. It's all but impossible to select the best of 30 years' worth of anything so extraordinary.

Before yesterday, we never had understood the personality cult that developed and the worldwide interest that surrounded the untimely death of Princess Diana.

Now we do.

We offer our wish of Godspeed and a toast to a fellow Midwesterner and extraordinary entertainer -- a man we'd go to bed with anytime.

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