Communing with Carson

October 23rd, 2009 at 7:16 pm by Mark
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Johnny Carson

     On October 23rd, 1925 in Corning, Iowa, Johnny Carson was born.  It’s strange how the life such an interesting character like him can go virtually unknown.
     Neat little tidbits… Like…

     The fact that he was an Ensign in the US Navy, and reported for duty on the USS Pensylvania on August 25th, 1945?  Yep, the last day of World War II.  On the Pacific front, no less, a mere two weeks after the ship had been torpedoed.  His first job?  Superivising the removal of twenty dead seamen as the carrier made its way to Guam for repairs… After that, he went on to become a communications officer, decrypting encoded messages…

     He graduated from college in 1949 with a minor in Physics.  That makes it even less surprising that he was an amateur Astronomer who owned several telescopes, including a grossly-superior Maksutov-Cassegrain Reflector Telescope by Questar.  The Maksutov-Cassegrain shows about three time the light of other reflectors (I’d almost kill for one).

     In the 1950’s, Carson filled in for Red Skelton, who’d managed to knock himself unconcious before one of his shows.

     In the early 60’s, Carson was considered for the leading role, Rob Petrie, on the show that eventually became “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”  He was a regular on several game shows as a panellist and host.

     Throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, he regularly rubbed elbows with the rich and famous on The Tonight Show.  There are plenty of stories, some of which were proven untrue.  Especially the one about Zsa Zsa’s cat… In answer to her question, no, he didn’t reply, “Sure, if you’ll get that cat out of the way.”

Your chances of getting struck by lightning go up if you stand … you stand under a tree, shake your fist at the sky, and say “Storms suck!”
— Johnny Carson

     In the 1980’s, Carson was a major investor in DeLorean Motor Company, the failed auto company of John DeLorean.  It’s too bad, too … It was a great looking car.  All stainless steel, and especially cool when tricked out with a 1.21 jigawatt flux capacitor.
     He also had a moderately successful clothing line.

     Probably one of the best known facts is that Carson didn’t care for Leno, who inherited the Tonight Show in 1992.  He’d actually asked that David Letterman fill his shoes, but the network chose Leno instead.  There was a lot of animosity on all sides. 
     Carson reortedly continued to send Letterman jokes for his monologue until his death in 2005.
     Interestingly, that’s about the time Letterman started to suck so vehemently…
     It’s amazing the crap we get stuck with on TV…

     After this evening’s seance with Johnny, attended by another dead friend, I had the opportunity to ask Carson what he thought of this whole David Letterman and Stephanie The-One-Who-Shall-Be-Called-Vicky Burkitt affair.  Pun not intended, but there it is.

     The obviously disappointed Carson furrowed his brown and dead-panned (again, pun not intended, but there it is):

     “When turkeys mate, they think of swans.”

     So, Happy Birthday, Johnny. 

     You’re sorely missed.

     *Golf swing in your general direction!*


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5 Responses to “Communing with Carson”

  1. Frank Rand Says:

    you are incorrect on the Zsa Zsa Gabor.. I watched that show and she did ask Johnny if he would like to pet her pussy Johnny answer sure if you take that cat off you lap

  2. fracas Says:

    A fraccy A+ on this post Mark. I, like Johnny, don’t care much for Leno.

    I can’t wait till that tape is out though. I have a a sneaky suspicion the reason they were on the set was because Dave wanted to find out ‘Will it float’?

  3. Mark Says:

    Frank: You are incorrect. I, too, saw the episode and remember it moderately well. While Zsa Zsa did repeatedly ask if Johnny. “Would you like to pet my pussy?” — a large, white Persian which she kept on her lap during most of the interview — Carson looked shocked the first time, ignored her and attempted to continue the interview before going to a commercial break. Zsa Zsa’s insisted, after the commercial break, asking, “What is wrong I ask him to pet my pussy?” Even after she had taken second seat, she continued to ask the same question, until someone came and took the cat off stage.

    It was Zsa Zsa’s repeated use of the phrase that made headlines, and not Johnny’s supposed quip, that made the episode infamous. The episode was Satirized multiple times, and numerous stand-up comedians have made the joke. Including — RICH LITTLE, who I believe may be the source people “remember.”

    It’s been relegated to the status of Urban Legend, thanks in no small part to a later appearance by Jane Fonda, who came on the show saying that her son had seen the episode in question. However, it was as debunked then as it is now.

    If you’d clicked the links, or googled a bit, you might have found all of this out without my having to repeat it.

  4. Tiberius Says:

    I agree with Mark. I think Ed Mcmahon was allergic to the cat and kept sneezing. Zsa Zsa offered the cat to two other guests and kept trying to put it in Ed’s lap. They came and took the cat off and she got mad. She sat up on the back of her chair and asked over and over what was wrong with pussy and kept interrupting the interviews. The staff finally came back onstage and she left shouting. People thought she was on drugs the way she acted that night. Johnny never said that but Dean Martin sure did during a Celebrity Roast.

  5. Mark Says:

    Kinda funny, that whole bit has come up twice today on the phone. And I think you’re pretty spot on … I remember her sitting on the back of her seat and getting really animated, too. Someone else mentioned the spoof being on a variety show on HBO back then, and we couldn’t remember the name of it… Some early HBO show that was like SCTV or Laugh-In or something, but less censored…?

    And yeah, one of them mentioned Dean Martin, too, so that’s two votes for Deano.

    If anyone else has anything to add … It’s kind of interesting figuring where this kinda BS comes from. 😉