Johnny Carson

Overview


“A close look at how show business power corrupts . . . The dishiest read of the year.” – Janet Maslin, “Ten Favorite Books of the Year,” New York Times
“Here’s Johnny!” Probably everyone in America knows the phrase, whether they watched every episode of The Tonight Show or none because they had to go to bed early on school nights. From 1962 to 1992, Johnny Carson and his Tonight Show dominated the American ...
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Johnny Carson

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Overview


“A close look at how show business power corrupts . . . The dishiest read of the year.” – Janet Maslin, “Ten Favorite Books of the Year,” New York Times
“Here’s Johnny!” Probably everyone in America knows the phrase, whether they watched every episode of The Tonight Show or none because they had to go to bed early on school nights. From 1962 to 1992, Johnny Carson and his Tonight Show dominated the American consciousness.

Henry Bushkin was Carson’s best friend and lawyer during that period, and his book is a tautly rendered and remarkably nuanced portrait of Carson, revealing not only how he truly was, but why. Bushkin explains why Carson, a voracious (and very talented) womanizer, felt he always had to be married; why he couldn’t visit his son in the hospital and wouldn’t attend his mother’s funeral; and much more. Johnny Carson is by turns shocking, poignant, and uproarious — written with a novelist’s eye for detail, a screenwriter’s ear for dialogue, and a knack for comic timing that Carson himself would relish.

“A fascinating book about a complex man.” — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Like The Tonight Show, the book has many a merry moment . . . [Johnny Carson] was also one of a kind, and is missed. This book brings a bit of him back.” — St. Louis Post-Dispatch

People magazine Top Ten Book of the Year

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

He won six Emmys, a Peabody Award, a Television Academy Hall of Fame niche, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and Kennedy Center Honors, but all those accolades combined don't render a full sense of the mystique of Johnny Carson (1925-2005). For thirty years, the effortless banter of the host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson kept America up late. After he retired in 1992, he resolutely disappeared from the public view, leaving behind a nation of admirers and imitators. Henry Bushkin, the author of this book, was his lawyer, his confidante, and his longtime friend. In this biography, he opens the doors on the well-guarded life of a true television legend. Now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.

The New York Times - Janet Maslin
Henry Bushkin's Johnny Carson is that rare celebrity tell-all by an author who knows whom and what he's talking about…It's easy to approach this book thinking that its author has an ax to grind. Maybe he does, but his account sounds unexaggerated, credible and willing to place blame wherever it belongs…Other authors have generalized about Carson's moods, petulance and bad judgment. But Mr. Bushkin seems to have a true inside track.
Publishers Weekly
11/04/2013
Bushkin performed many roles for the King of Late Night Johnny Carson during their 18-year relationship—lawyer, advisor, tennis partner, to name a few—but the role of best friend is the one that never quite fit. In this biography/memoir hybrid, Bushkin recounts his tenure working under Carson at Carson Productions and living it up with his boss in Vegas and on yachts. He provides a keen glimpse at what this iconic comedian was really like: a man who was generous and beloved but "capable of marring a nice moment with a cutting remark." And it was those cutting remarks and erratically sour moods, which Bushkin blames on Carson's fraught relationship with his mother, that pushed others away from Carson, including three wives, and eventually poisoned his relationship with the author. Bushkin constantly reevaluates their relationship as he reveals the monstrous side of Carson and how fearful Bushkin was of incurring his wrath. With all this, the book is an insightful glimpse into the world of The Tonight Show and the star-studded life of Carson. An addictive read. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

“Henry Bushkin’s ‘Johnny Carson’ is that rare celebrity tell-all by an author who knows whom and what he’s talking about.” – The New York Times

“Few books like ‘Johnny Carson’ have been more engrossing. It's not just a juicy peek inside a celebrity's life...Bushkin's memoir is also a well-written corporate tale that reveals the tough business of staying America's favorite late-night host, full of stories of money, sex and skullduggery, peppered with plenty of laughs.” – The Associated Press

“This is not a tawdry tell-all but rather, an insightful and sobering character study of a tortured man and failed husband and father, as told through the eyes and experiences of one of his closest confidantes.” – Huffington Post

“[a] gracefully written, often insightful memoir” – The Daily Beast

"Twenty years since retiring and eight since his death, Carson remains the god of late night and the dean of American comedy." – New York Magazine, Fall Preview

"Most readers will be captivated by this high-definition, off-camera, extreme close-up view of the enigmatic entertainer." – Kirkus

"The book bears effective witness to a swinging era when celebrities were 'entertainers,' the highball glass was never empty, there were only three channels on TV, and Carson was its king.”– Bloomberg Businessweek

"Show-business junkies old enough to have spent many of their late nights between 1962 and 1992 watching Johnny Carson, 'the King of Late Night,' will likely devour this long-anticipated memoir in one gulp...The portrait of Carson offered here, though, goes way beyond dish: it is a genuinely multifaceted look at the burdens and the excesses of celebrity. Equally fascinating, though, is Bushkin’s own story." - Booklist

"An insightful glimpse into the world of The Tonight Show and the star-studded life of Carson. An addictive read." - Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-05
The King of Late Night's lawyer, confidant, tennis partner and butt of his "Bombastic Bushkin" gags appraises their 18-year relationship. Mainly due to the often bitter jokes he began making about marriage, often at his own expense, around the time of his expensive divorce from his third wife in the early 1980s, Johnny Carson (1925–2005) is known for his marital troubles. Though the late-night host is also known for his reclusiveness from the Hollywood scene--a reputation Bushkin demonstrates was not entirely warranted--most casual observers may not know that Carson had difficulty with all sorts of relationships, beginning with his praise-stingy mother Ruth, whose approval Carson vainly sought until her death, and continuing with his three sons (Carson admitted to being a poor, distant father). Fresh out of Vanderbilt Law School at 23, Bushkin began working for Carson in 1970 and had, arguably, the closest and sturdiest relationship with Carson of the entertainer's entire life until its acrimonious end in 1988 ("Johnny terminated our relationship in a mere three-minute conversation….There was no final act"). The secret to his success? At the expense of his own marriage and relationships with his children, Bushkin made it his career to keep Carson happy at all hours of the day and night. This might mean getting him a contract with NBC that made him the highest-paid entertainer in the world. It could also mean breaking and entering into Carson's second wife's adulterous "love nest" to gather evidence for divorce, listening to a drunken Caron's self-psychoanalysis at an after-hours watering hole, disappearing discreetly when one of the boss's many voluptuous playmates appeared, or stepping between Carson and people he wanted to hit or who wanted to hit him. Carson partisans may find this memoir self-serving (what memoir isn't?), but most readers will be captivated by this high-definition, off-camera, extreme close-up view of the enigmatic entertainer.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780544334489
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/7/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 147,445
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Henry Bushkin is a lawyer living in Los Angeles. For 18 years, he was Johnny Carson's personal legal adviser, fixer, confidant, and close friend.
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Table of Contents

Chapter One
1979: The Star Among Stars 1

Chapter Two
1970: Breaking In 19

Chapter Three
1970: Calamity John 41

Chapter Four
1972: Joanne and Joanna 58

Chapter Five
1972–1978: Stairway to Paradise 80

Chapter Six
1979: NBC — See Ya 104

Chapter Seven
1979–1980: Free Agency 119

Chapter Eight
1979–1980: Clear Sailing 139

Chapter Nine
1980–1981: The Inauguration 153

Chapter Ten
1972–1980: Vegas 176

Chapter Eleven
1980–1984: Hobson’s Choices 201

Chapter Twelve
1982–1985: Homme et Femme 216

Chapter Thirteen
1982–1985: Days of Weinberger and Neuroses 230

Chapter Fourteen
1987: Darkness Falls 248

Chapter Fifteen
1987–1988: The End 264

Acknowledgments 281
Index 282

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