Former late night talk show host Johnny Carson died early Sunday. He was 79.
I picture those big, colorful Tonight Show curtains hanging still. The stage is dark and silent. But if you listen closely, the echoes of history, of thirty years of laughter, can still be heard...
Nearly everyone I talked to this evening asked if I'd heard about Johnny. He was an American icon. Spanning a period of time when cable and satellite were not nearly as prevalent as they are today, Carson became a fixture in American homes, an institution. It seemed like everyone watched Johnny. As long as he was on, there simply was no other late night show of any significance. Just think of all the actors, comedians, and entertainers who got their start, their first big break, from Carson. I think the thing that amazed me the most was how he basically disappeared once he left the show in 1992. He spent the last twelve years of his life almost completely out of the public eye, which is rare in itself. Johnny Carson was as American as anything during the last half of the twentieth century.
"It's a sad day for his family and his country. All of us who came after are pretenders. We will not see the likes of him again. He gave me a shot on his show and in doing so, he gave me a career. A night doesn't go by that I don't ask myself, what would Johnny have done? He has been greatly missed since his retirement. Thank God for videotapes and DVDs. In this regard, he will always be around. He was the best, a star and a gentleman." - D. Letterman