“Here’s Johnny!” Wednesday’s Bookmobile Celebrates Johnny Carson And The Battle For Late Night!

Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon

“You have to understand,” Ed McMahon once explained. “Every day, no matter what else is going on in his life, he has to come out there and be Johnny Carson.”

Wednesday’s Bookmobile has the story of America’s “battle for late night” – but there was only ONE KING. This man.

Here’s Johnny!

Forget Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel. They can never have the pop culture influence that Johnny Carson had…so what was it like to be Johnny?

Well, one insider spills the beans in an controversial memoir!


“What was I doing here? I was a graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School! I had sworn an oath to uphold the law, not violate it, and breaking and entering in the state of New York was a felony. As if sensing my panic, Johnny looked over at me.

“Don’t worry, kid”, he said reassuringly. “Nothing’s going to happen to you. Trust me.”

And with that, young Lawyer Henry Bushkin goes along as Johnny Carson breaks into his wife’s secret love nest, surrounded by men who are carrying guns.

Now THAT’S how to start off a celebrity memoir!

Bombastic Bushkin Johnny Carson book

Bombastic Bushkin’s Inside Look At Johnny Carson!

Henry Bushkin was Carson’s lawyer and confident for two decades – and he shares amazing stories about life with the “King of Late Night”!


Johnny Carson was one of America’s most beloved Talents, and he ruled the late night airwaves for decades…and Bushkin was right there with him.

First, the excerpt from the book above is amazing: Bushkin is with Carson as Johnny and his “friends” enter his wife’s love nest! A great story in a book full of them!


You get all of the inside stories about Johnny’s tough negotiations with NBC – and you get a LOT of inside stories about some of his female friends…

Copyright Henry Bushkin and Johnny Carson original scan 1982

Bushkin relates a hilarious story about Johnny’s pursuit of Joyce DeWitt, the star of “Three’s Company” – and yes, Johnny was married at the time!

Pushkin became famous when Carson began to refer to him on-air as his Attorney “Bombastic Bushkin”, who advised him to get into such “sure fire” money-making ventures as “Orson Welles Designer Jeans”, “Crazy Glue Toothpaste” and “Club Med Beirut”!

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 14:  Henry Bushkin visits SiriusXM Studios on October 14, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 14: Henry Bushkin visits SiriusXM Studios on October 14, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

The Battle For Johnny’s Oscar Seat!

Bushkin had to handle all of the details for every Carson appearance, such as when the Host acted as Emcee at the Inauguration of Ronald Reagan in 1980, and getting Carson’s then-wife Joanna to the Oscars on time – Johnny hosted the Academy Awards many times and was considered the best Host of all time.

Johnny Carson Academy Awards Host

One year, Johnny’s wife Joanna was running late, and when they finally arrived at the show – just moments before the live event was to begin, there was trouble!

“Suddenly, there was a problem. There were people in our seats. Kids – Jane Fonda’s kids! She was an Oscar winner and was attending the event to see her father, Henry Fonda, receive an honorary Oscar. She only had two tickets, but she didn’t want her kids to miss this, so she planted them in our seats.
“I’m sorry, but these are our seats” I said, brandishing our tickets. “You have to move them!’
“I’m not moving anybody now!” she replied with all the tenacity of a Hollywood princess who had grown into an award-winning excercise=company millionaire and Hollywood-family diva’ “The shows’ starting! Go sit down before you embarrass yourself on national TV!”

Johnny Carson Oscar host

The “Bushkin” Backlash!

I loved the book, and felt that Bushkin was honest, candid and willing to take the blame for many personal mistakes he made during the years with Carson as well…that said, there has been backlash to the book:

"The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" host Johnny Carson (C) poses with band leader Doc Severinsen (L)and sidekick Ed McMahon, in an undated photo. REUTERS/NBC/Handout

“The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” host Johnny Carson (C) poses with band leader Doc Severinsen (L)and sidekick Ed McMahon, in an undated photo. REUTERS/NBC/Handout

Longtime “Tonight Show” Bandleader Doc Severinsen was asked about the controversial tell-all book on Carson, and he didn’t hold back.

“I know Henry Bushkin and I knew Johnny Carson,” Severinsen said this week, choosing his words carefully and making what appear to be his first public remarks about the book. “And the idea that anybody would ask any single person to write a book about Johnny Carson and have it be Bushkin is beyond disgusting.”

If you want to only remember the best parts of “TV Johnny”, then this is for you:

Here's Johnny! Johnny Carson DVD set

“Heeere s Johnny!!”

There are number of ways to enjoy classic Johnny, but this huge box set on Amazon is one of the best!

This Definitive DVD Collection includes the following: 1. Timeless Moments: Capturing Johnny at his best, these 6 DVDs include classic Carson characters, The Mighty Carson Art Players, guest stars, favorite comedians and more. Timeless Moments was previously only available to Carson Club members and is now only available through the Heeere’s Johnny collection. 2. The Original Ultimate Collection: The 3 DVD collection that started it all! From the 60 s to the 90 s, this best selling collection features 7 hours of Johnny s favorite moments from three decades of The Tonight Show. 3. Stand-Up Comedians: Featuring a virtual who s-who of the funniest comedians ever to appear on The Tonight Show. Laugh along with Johnny and enjoy 20 classic stand-up routines. 4. Carson Country: Great music, hilarious tall tales and homespun humor on this one-of-a-kind collection of country legends.

And if all of this whets your appetite for late night talk show stories, there is no better one than the intrigue that surrounded Johnny’s replacement!


The Late Shift!

This huge bestseller by Bill Carter chronicled the behind-the-scenes corporate battle surrounding Johnny Carson’s 1992 retirement as host of The Tonight Show. The book detailed the power struggle between David Letterman and Jay Leno to succeed Carson as the “King of Late Night”…with the infamous scene when Jay Leno hid in a closet to listen in on the NBC debate over who would get the coveted job!


HBO made a great film based on the book as well…it was one of the most fascinating behind-the-scenes battles for late night of all…well, until THIS happened!

The War For Late Night book

“The War For Late Night”!

Bill Carter followed up with another incredible book about the late night wars! “The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy” is his 2010 non-fiction book that chronicles the conflict surrounding the American late-night talk show The Tonight Show involving Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno.

Late night talk show wars

Jay didn’t want to get pushed out, so he got pushed into prime time – but soon Conan was pushed out altogether! A fascinating look at the debacle surrounding The Tonight Show…where is Johnny when we need him?

Let me know what you think of America’s true “King Of Late Night!”


Categories: Academy Awards, Art, Awards, Books / Media, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Memoirs, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities, TV Show, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

24 replies

  1. I’m of two minds of this because I think the book would be fascinating but also feel it’s not a great thing that Bushkin did. Then again, the man fires you and this is the only golden bullet you’ve got in the chamber. Many would do the same. Of course I’ve read Bill Carter’s book and I’m a huge fan of Letterman. Did you ever watch Craig Ferguson, John?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lloyd, I liked Craig a lot…I think his timing was off here int he states, because he is as good as anyone else on right now!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Definitely a fave, the flirting, stuff with Geoff Peterson, his devil may care attitude and honesty. The eulogies and so forth. Even if it’s manufactured, audiences are always looking for authenticity and they will love you for it. Craig reeked of that, also part of the reason why he’s one of those types where you either don’t get it or you fall hard as a fan. No in between. That’s my CraigyFerg. 🙂


  2. Speaking of late night wars, this is one of my favorite interviews with Letterman and Conan O’brien:

    Conan seems to be left out of many of these conversations, but his genius is unmistakable…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Fascinating John.. really only caught the shows when we lived in the States… but he was a wit…


  4. Johnny Carson was such a staple for decades. Totally revolutionary and an interesting man, too. Having said that, I confess, I’m an early to bed, early to rise kind of gal, so the only shows I’ve seen are reruns during the day. Sounds like a cool book. Thanks for the head’s up.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Carnac the Magnificent was the best!!! hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful post John. Carson will always be the King of late night comedy.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice post John, I think I’m going to have to read this book, albeit through a somewhat skeptical lens (based on Severinsen’s remarks). Carson is, and will always be the deity of late night television, all one has to do is listen to any of the late night hosts that have existed before and since Carson retired; he is revered. I’m sure he had his personal struggles, don’t we all, but he pioneered a path for all that would follow. In all honesty, Letterman’s approach and style spoke more to my sensibilities and style of humor, but without Carson there likely would not have been a Letterman, or a Leno, or a Conan etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This sounds like an interesting insight into Johnny Carson’s life, John. The DVD’s sound like a good purchase too.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Late night chat shows are such an ‘American thing’. They have tried to copy the format here, but never really got it right. I certainly don’t watch any of them. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. He represented an era and was so fun to watch!

    Liked by 1 person

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