With this week’s passing of sidekick Ed McMahon, it’s only natural that we remember his boss, the man who towered above late-night television. The man who made it look ridiculously easy, and despite others’ rating success, the man who will never be replaced.
Though he hosted several other successful programs, Johnny Carson makes this list because of the Tonight Show. Or, as everyone called it, The Johnny Carson Show.
He brought his unique humor and style into America’s bedrooms for 30 years. Close your eyes, and you can almost hear his distinctive theme song and see him swinging that imaginary golf club.
He had a number of recurring characters, but the most popular one was Carnac the Magnificent, a psychic who answered questions in “envelopes that have been hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar and stored at Funk & Wagnall’s.”
From Ed Ames’s errant hatchet throw, to Tiny Tim’s wedding, to countless Don Rickles rants, to Bette Midler’s touching farewell, we loved every minute with Johnny. It’s been 17 years since he retired. And we will never see his like again.