Johnny Carson was an American television show host, comedian, writer, and producer who hosted The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson from 1962 to 1992.
Carson is a cultural icon and inspiration for most comedians and talk show hosts in the present days like Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, and Jon Stewart.
Johnny Carson began his career as a radio show host and moved up the ladder, becoming the most successful talk show host in history.
Before his death in 2005, the veteran host was worth an estimated amount of $300 million, which rounds about to $400 million in 2020 after inflation.
After serving the United States Army in World War II, Johnny returned home and went to the University of Nebraska, where he graduated with a degree in radio and speech.
Afterward, he did a hosting gig in a local radio station in Omaha, immediately building a fan base in the locality. Carson moved from radio show gigs to gigs until he had a cult following in the radio broadcasting audiences.
Later, he escalated up to TV shows hosting shows such as The Johnny Carson Show in 1955. The show only aired for a year and was canceled in 1956. Soon after, Carson was recruited by ABC to host Who Do You Trust? a television game show where he met his future sidekick Ed McMahon.
In 1962, Carson left the ABC game show to replace Jack Paar to host NBC’s late-night talk show The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Carson initially declined the offer from NBC’s executives as he found it difficult to keep the celebrities engaged for 105 minutes.
He, however, was convinced later in February of 1962 to join the show by NBC. He hosted the show for consecutive 30 years, becoming the longest-running host of The Tonight Show.
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With Carson, the ratings of the show peaked to the highest, which made NBC an annual profit of more than $50 million in the 80s, which roughly translates to $100 million in 2020.
Carson had an annual salary of $25 million for one hour a night, and 37 weeks a year at the time he left The Tonight Show. Previously in 1977, the iconic host had a salary of $3 million a year. During his time with the talk show, Carson won a total of 6 Emmy Awards and was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987.
Carson lived in Malibu in an estate that consisted of a house-made over 7,000 sq. ft. an area with two bedrooms, a gym, a koi pond, and a tennis court.
The mansion was put up for sale in 2017 by Sidney Kimmel for $81.5 million but was sold at a bargain price of $60 million.
The late TV show host Carson was married several times. The first three of the marriages ended up in divorces, and the fourth one lasted till his death in 2005.
He was first married to Jody Morrill Wolcott from 1949 to 1962, Joanne Copeland from 1963 to 1972, Joanna Holland from 1972 to 1985, and Alexis Mass from 1987 until his demise.
Among the three divorces, Carson’s divorce with his third wife Joanna Holland gathered most media interest as it was dubbed as one of the most expensive divorces in during the time. The divorce settlement left Holland with $20 million, a house in Bel Air, their apartment in New York City, a Rolls Royce and a Mercedes Benz.
Carson founded the Johnny Carson Foundation in 1982 in order to support various causes and fundraising events. He made numerous gifts to the foundation frequently, and even after death, the foundation received a massive sum of $156 million of fortune.
Carson’s will read that the foundation was to receive $35 million in cash and $121 million in the form of rights to royalty. His will also allocated a sum of $4 million for Los Angeles Children’s Hospital.
Johnny William Carson, on October 25, 1925, in Iowa to Ruth Elizabeth Carson and Homer Lloyd Carson. At the age of eight, Johnny moved to Nebraska with his family, where his father had found a job as a power company manager.
After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the US Army in 1941 right after Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor. He was never in combat, but he entertained other troops with his ventriloquism skills. He moved back to Nebraska after World War II and joined the University of Nebraska.
Carson had three sons, Christopher, Cory, and Richard, with his first wife, Jody Morrill Wolcott. He had an estranged relationship with all three of his sons. His son Richard died at the age of 39 in 1991 in a car accident.
In March 1999, Carson had a massive heart attack, after which he had quadruple-bypass surgery. Carson was a heavy smoker and the smoke he inhaled over the years built up to emphysema, a condition in which the lungs have reduced overflow due to tar in them. He died on January 23, 2005, due to problems in respiration.