Johnny Carson Dead at 79

Posted on January 23, 2005

Iconic talk show host and comedian Johnny Carson died today from complications of emphysema, from which he had suffered for many years. He was 79. Beginning in 1962, the comedian hosted NBC's Tonight Show for 30 years and was arguably the most popular entertainer in America. He was the third man to host the show, succeeding Steve Allen and Jack Paar. Many writers, comedians and performers attribute their success to Carson's generosity in helping launch their careers. Carson always considered himself a writer and said that writing jokes was what he missed most when he retired. He began his career as a writer for comedian Red Skelton in the 1950s. When Skelton was knocked unconscious right before showtime, Carson went onstage and was a success. The New York Times obituary is here.

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