Johnny Carson and The Tonight Show Legacy
Apr 10, 2014 | 1864 views | 2 2 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Tonight Show holds a place in my heart. My first memory of it was eavesdropping on my dad watching the first thirty minutes of the show in about 1960, when I was still in grade school. Although I was supposed to be asleep by the time it came on, I could hear the program.

My room was right next to the living room in our small, frame house on Briarwood. That made listening to The Tonight Show easy, and I did so frequently. I recall Jack Paar from his time hosting the show. Then came Johnny Carson in late 1962.

I knew Johnny Carson from a game show - "Who Do You Trust?" - which came on mid afternoon. I would come home from school and watch Johnny, whose loyal sidekick, Ed McMahon, sold the products of sponsors. Those commercials and the show appeared to be live. The commercials Ed did were often funny, and not always because they were planned that way. From home appliances to dog food, Ed put it all out there and was a good foil for Johnny.

I delighted in watching Johnny Carson on the game show, and was ecstatic when I learned at age thirteen he was becoming the host of The Tonight Show. We had moved from Briarwood to a bigger house on Paul Avenue by then, but the acoustics of our house made listening to The Tonight Show easy. My bedroom was the one nearest the den, where the television was located. In 1962, no family had more than one television. Our TV was in the den, and that's where Daddy watched The Tonight Show.

By leaving my room's door open, I could hear every word of the opening monologue and Johnny's comedy sets done typically the first thirty minutes of the show. As I entered high school, I would stay up and watch the show until eleven, sometimes later. In the mid to late 1960s, watching The Tonight Show together was a regular event for Daddy and me.

In 1968, I joined the military and came home on leave in December of 1969, departing for Southeast Asia in January of 1970. One of the last things my Dad and I did together before I left was watch Johnny on The Tonight Show. We saw a hysterical show with Bob Hope, Dean Martin and George Gobel. My old buddy, Mike Capps, was with us watching it.

In mid 1971, I was whisked back home after word came through the Red Cross that my father was terminally ill with cancer, and not expected to live much longer. Five weeks later, he died. The memory of our watching Johnny together has been a treasure the past forty-three years since his passing.

When my son was in grade school, I let him stay up to watch the first fifteen minutes of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. My son was not born until ten years after my father passed away, but Johnny Carson remains a link between my dad, my son, and me. All three of us loved Johnny and his Tonight Show hosting. He remains the undisputed king of late night television. All the other late night hosts have shows because Johnny Carson was so wildly successful at it for so long.

© 2014, Jim “Pappy” Moore,

All Rights Reserved.

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April 07, 2014
While Carson never took over the Tonight Show until some time in recollections of watching him were very similar to yours. It was sometime in '63 that I use to sneak and watch through the doorway; my bedroom was also adjacent to the living room. Sometimes, with my parents knowing I was there, they would invite me in to watch a short bit, other mom would cyclically warn me to get to bed KNOWING that I was probably there. On Friday nights I'd get to have some late night pizza and soda pop and watch much of the show. Great memories!

Jim "Pappy" Moore
April 09, 2014
It's funny how such small things become treasured memories over time. Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting.