The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson
Some of the funniest interviews and stories from The Tonight Show
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Let’s go back to 1962 when Johnny Carson took over for Jack Parr on The Tonight Show. For over 30 years, Carson would entertain America with monologues, snazzy suits, hilarious sketch comedy, exotic animals alongside guests that we knew, and guests we were going to know.
The Tonight Show on NBC actually began in 1954. While the majority of the early years had been broadcast out of 30 Rockefeller center, after 1973, the show was a fully produced product out of NBC’s Burbank CA. studios until Carson retired in 1993.
Johnny Carson is the longest-serving host to date, although he is not the host with the most episodes. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson aired for 30 seasons between October 1962 and May 1992. Jay Leno, however, has the record of having hosted the greatest number of total televised episodes. Leno’s record accounts for the fact that unlike Carson (who only produced new shows three days a week starting in the 1980s), Leno never used guest hosts on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (except Katie Couric, once) and produced new shows five days a week; Leno himself was also Carson’s primary guest host for the last five years of Carson’s tenure, giving him even more episodes to his credit. Leaving out Leno’s five years as a permanent guest host, Leno hosted 119 more episodes as a full-time host than Carson.
During Carson’s first four years, the show ran for 105 minutes and then was reduced to ninety minutes in early 1967 when Carson stopped appearing for the first 15 minutes because most affiliates were carrying their local news during that time slot as they expanded to half an hour. During Carson’s 1980 contract negotiations, the show was shortened to sixty minutes beginning that September, where it has remained since. NBC also broadcast The Best of Carson which were repeats of some of Carson’s popular older albeit usually recent shows. Prior to the debut of Saturday Night Live in October 1975, NBC aired The Best of Carson on Saturday nights at 11:30 pm.
The Tonight Show is the world’s longest-running talk show and the longest-running, regularly scheduled entertainment program in the United States. It is the third-longest-running show on NBC after the news-and-talk shows Today and Meet the Press.
The show has been hosted by six comedians: Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, and Jimmy Fallon. It has had several recurring guest hosts including Ernie Kovacs during the Steve Allen era and Joey Bishop, David Letterman, Joan Rivers, David Brenner, and Jay Leno during Johnny Carson’s stewardship (along with dozens of occasional substitutes).
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