Yesterday, Joan Rivers died at the age of 81. Before she was E!’s go to fashion critic, she had a long history with talk shows (a lot of it is not good). We’re not going to go into the details of the falling out between Rivers and Johnny Carson. Instead, we’re choosing to remember them in happier times. In the following clip from The Tonight Show, Joan sits down with Johnny to discuss her book Enter Talking.
Wow. David Letterman announcing his upcoming retirement shocked me. It shouldn’t have. We all knew it was coming. No one was under the impression Letterman would be hosting The Late Show until he dies. He’d host it until Jay Leno was out of the collective consciousness or dropped dead. Once Leno said goodbye to The Tonight Show stage one last time, Letterman’s days were numbered. All he did today was confirm everyone’s assumption.
When all is said and done, Letterman will have hosted a late night talk show for 33 years: 11 as host of NBC’s Late Night, the last 22 will be with The Late Show and CBS. It’s hard to believe that 5 years ago few people expected Letterman to surpass his idol Johnny Carson’s reign in late night, which was an impressive 30 years. Now, we’re wondering how CBS will fill the hole in their lineup when Letterman leaves next year.
I’ve covered The Tonight Show a lot on Wait! What’s a Dial?. As the longest running late night talk show, it holds a special place in my heart. Regardless of what you think of Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, those who came before them: Steve Allen, Jack Paar, and Johnny Carson were masters of the medium. Because Jimmy Fallon recently took over NBC’s signature late night talk show, here is a round up of the articles I have written about the hosts of The Tonight Show (with a video to make up for the lack of Jack Paar coverage).
If you’re over 30, you probably think of The Tonight Show as Johnny Carson’s show. However, Steve Allen was the first host of the show. He hosted it from 1954 to 1957.
As the first host of a national late night talk show, Steve Allen directly influenced David Letterman. Letterman has influenced Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jimmy Fallon, so some of Allen’s attitude and antics can still be seen on current late night talk shows. For the rest of the article, see “TV Shows You Should Know: The Tonight Show Starring Steve Allen.”
Since it’s Thanksgiving, we figure you could use a break from trying not to burn your house down because Uncle Bob decided to fry the turkey this year. If you have 7 minutes to spare, enjoy this delightful clip of Johnny Carson and Doc Severinsen reading kids’ letters on how to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving.
Since TCM airs some of Johnny Carson’s interviews every Monday night at 8pm in July, Wait! What’s a Dial? has compiled other memorable moments from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. None of these moments are rare. We’ve all seen them in every Johnny Carson special, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to watch them again. In no particular order, here are four memorable moments from Johnny’s 30 years as host of The Tonight Show.
The Tomahawk Incident
Before The Tonight Show debacle of 2009-2010 starring Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno, there were three other hosts of The Tonight Show: Steve Allen, Jack Paar, and Johnny Carson. If you’re over 30, you probably think of The Tonight Show as Johnny Carson’s show. However, Steve Allen was the first host of the show. He hosted it from 1954 to 1957.
As the first host of a national late night talk show, Steve Allen directly influenced David Letterman. Letterman has influenced Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jimmy Fallon, so some of Allen’s attitude and antics can still be seen on current late night talk shows.
Lately, NBC has been advertising Jay Leno celebrating 20 years at NBC, which is not entirely accurate. He has been with NBC for more than 20 years, the first few were spent as permanent guest host of The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. NBC should be saying Leno has been hosting The Tonight Show for 20 years. Wait, that’s not right either, even though NBC wants to be able to insist otherwise. In reality, Leno has been regularly hosting a nightly talk show for 20 years: 19 years as host of The Tonight Show, 5 months as host of The Jay Leno Show.
Let’s be honest. It is impressive that Leno has been on the air for 20 years, but there is a huge segment of the population that holds a grudge against him. They are the ones who will always remember that Conan O’Brien hosted The Tonight Show for 7 months, which NBC would rather forget. They are the very reason Team Coco exists and Conan is now happy on TBS.
I know for some people it is hard to believe that Johnny Carson has not hosted The Tonight Show in 20 years. While I am too young to remember Johnny, I am aware of his legacy. As a David Letterman fan, I constantly hear Dave talk about how Johnny is the only true King of Late Night. To remember Johnny and his legacy, here is his appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. Johnny even brings his own desk.
Part 2 of the video is after the link.
At Wait! What’s A Dial?, you will read a twenty-something year old’s opinion on TV. As someone who is studying radio/television/film and journalism in college, I hope to give the opinion of a young person, who actually knows what they’re talking about.
I have a particular fondness for late night television. I love Jimmy Fallon, Conan, David Letterman, Johnny Carson, and Steve Allen. (Yes, I’ve actually watched the latter two men.)
My favorite shows are anything with Steve Allen, David Letterman Hogan’s Heroes (don’t judge), The Monkees (cute boys), Burns and Allen, The Jack Benny Program, Good Eats, and British panel shows.
Current shows that I watch are America’s Got Talent (because it reminds me of the Gong Show, again don’t judge), Law & Order, and sometimes 30 Rock.