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The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 

Host Johnny Carson performs comedy routines and chats with various celebrities.
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1992   1991   1990   1989   1988   1987   … See all »
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 12 wins & 37 nominations. See more awards »


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Series cast summary:
Ed McMahon ...  Himself - Announcer / ... 6,396 episodes, 1962-1992
Doc Severinsen ...  Himself - Bandleader / ... 5,135 episodes, 1967-1992
Johnny Carson ...  Himself - Host / ... 4,947 episodes, 1962-1992


Host Johnny Carson performs comedy routines and chats with various celebrities.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Talk-Show



Official Sites:

Carson Productions





Release Date:

1 October 1962 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Best of Carson See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(1962-1966) | (1980-1992) | (1967-1980)

Sound Mix:

Mono (1962-1984)| Stereo (1984-1992)



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In his recent biography about the famous talk show host, Henry Bushkin, Carson's longtime friend and attorney; paints a dark portrait of the celebrity: Although he was successful; highly respected in the industry and very popular with the public; Johnny Carson was a bit of a loner. As a matter of fact, according to Bushkin, when Carson died in 2005, no one bothered to do a funeral or even a memorial service for him. See more »


[Ed is laughing to himself]
Karnack: [annoyed] Karnack is attempting to divine an answer and you're sitting here, giggling. May I have silence, please?
Ed McMahon: Of course. You've had it many times before.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Whenever Carson added a skit to an episode, the "Mighty Carson Art Players" would be announced as guest stars. See more »

Alternate Versions

Select comedy sketches from the Tonight Show were taken and placed into syndication into "Carson's Comedy Classics" during the mid 1980's. See more »


Referenced in MASK: Panda Power (1985) See more »


Johnny's Theme
Composed by Paul Anka
See more »

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User Reviews

Johnny Carson was the best at what he did.
23 January 2005 | by TxMikeSee all my reviews

We all received the sad news today that Johnny Carson, in his 80th year of life, died today. Carson had long been retired from his Tonight Show, a show taken over capably by Jay Leno. But there never was anyone like Johnny Carson, and there may never be.

What I most liked about Johnny was his humble approach to his show. He opened with a monologue, he told his jokes plainly and simply, and waited for the laughter. It usually came. Some times it didn't. When the laughs did not come, he took on that familiar sad look of his, and that became the joke.

I was a working person during the run of his show, but Johnny Carson's tonight show was one that I often stayed up late for, it was that good. When the show was still in New York, he of course told New York jokes. One I remember vividly was during one particular cold winter, Johnny simply said, "It was really cold today." Ed McMahon, his trusty sidekick, asked, "How cold was it?" Johnny answered, "It was so cold today, a cab driver was saying something to a pedestrian and his middle finger froze." Another I remember was, when doing his 'Carnac' routine, the answer was "Four on the floor." The question was, "Describe two 80-year old topless go-go dancers."

Johnny of course went to Los Angeles, and there the show took on another dimension. Johnny was quite a prankster, and played a good one on Ed McMahon, not as part of the Tonight Show, but funny anyway. Ed was "set up" by placing some studio property in the trunk of his car. Leaving the studio, guards made a random trunk check, and "discovered" the stolen property. Johnny Carson actually dressed up as one of the guards, Ed McMahon was so flustered, declaring his innocence, it didn't even register to him that he was face to face with his boss!!

But the best thing I liked about Johnny Carson was his interview style. He was the best ever. He would ask a question then shut up and let the guest talk. He didn't have a big ego, like many current TV personalities, and try to show how much he knew. He simply let the other person talk.

Farewell and Godspeed, Johnny Carson.

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