Legacy and Legend


From the time I was old enough to stay up late, I lived for summer and Christmas vacations from school so I could stay up late and watch The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

I would sleep late, and stay up late, watching Carson — back when the show was 90 minutes, and followed by Tomorrow with Tom snyder, except on Fridays, when it was followed by The Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack. Tonight, Brian Williams said that everyone had a favorite Carson moment. One of mine was whenever Burt Reynolds would appear, as it seemed like slapstick comedy would undoubtedly ensue. Like Johnny and Burt cutting each others ties in half.

My absolute favorite, though, was when Johnny returned after Don Rickles had been guest host for a period, and broke Johnny’s pencil box on his desk. Spontaneously, Johnny started directing cameras and sound guys, and had the booth stay with him as he invaded a taping of CPO Sharkey (a bad Don Rickles sitcom in the 1970s) to confront Rickles. I remember Rickels grovelling at Johnny’s feet, and me rolling in the floor.

We lost a legend yesterday, but his legacy will endure for a long, long time to come. As for me, I have some great memories built over the earliest two-thirds of my life, watching Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.