Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson

Book - 2013
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An endlessly dishy and incisive account of the King of Late Night at the height of his fame and power, by his lawyer, wingman, fixer, and closest confidant.
A revealing and incisive account of the King of Late Night at the height of his fame and power, by his lawyer, wingman, fixer, and closest confidant. From 1962 until 1992, Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show and permeated the American consciousness. In the '70s and '80s he was the country's highest-paid entertainer and its most enigmatic. He was notoriously inscrutable, as mercurial (and sometimes cruel) off-camera as he was charming and hilarious onstage. During the apex of his reign, Carson's longtime lawyer and best friend was Henry Bushkin, who now shows us Johnny Carson with a breathtaking clarity and depth that nobody else could. From the moment in 1970 when Carson hired Bushkin (who was just twenty-seven) until the moment eighteen years later when they parted ways, the author witnessed and often took part in a string of escapades that still retain their power to surprise and fascinate us. One of Bushkin's first assignments was helping Carson break into a posh Manhattan apartment to gather evidence of his wife's infidelity. More than once, Bushkin helped his client avoid entanglements with the mob. Of course, Carson's adventures weren't all so sordid. He hosted Ronald Reagan's inaugural concert as a favor to the new president, and he prevented a drunken Dean Martin from appearing onstage that evening. Carson socialized with Frank Sinatra, Jack Lemmon, Jimmy Stewart, Kirk Douglas, and dozens of other boldface names who populate this atmospheric and propulsive chronicle of the King of Late Night and his world. But this memoir isn't just dishy. It 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 loathed small talk even as he excelled at it; why he couldn't visit his son in the hospital and wouldn't attend his mother's funeral; and much more. Bushkin's account 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. Johnny Carson unveils not only the hidden Carson, but also the raucous, star-studded world he ruled.--Publisher's description.
Publisher: Boston :, An Eamon Dolan Book/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,, 2013.
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9780544217621
Characteristics: 294 pages, [16] unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Oct 23, 2016

A more accurate title would have been "My Life with Johnny Carson" as the book is not a bio as much as a memoir of the author who spent 18 years as Carson's one-man entourage. The book is the author's experiences with Johnny, not simply a book about Johnny. Bushkin was Carson's attorney, his agent, his manager, chauffeur, body guard, etc. and most importantly his closest confidant for 18 years. The stories center around Carson during the peak of his career and include many stories of those Johnny associated with off camera. All the Hollywood A-listers of the 70's were there and much is illuminated about them as well. A fascinating book that is hard to put down. Well written and easy to read. (I did not spot a single typo!) Carson was much wilder (and more complex) than I would have imagined and while much of the story describes Carson's many faults, the author does not set out to smear Johnny, only to paint an accurate portrait. That portrait includes all of Carson's many good points as well, so the narrative is balanced. An excellent read, but I did come away with a little less respect for the man even though I had a greater understanding. If you idolize the man, steer clear. But if you want to read a fascinating yarn about a great man in a great time in entertainment history, you will enjoy this.

Nov 21, 2015

A decent book, although it was rather boring at times, despite it being about one of the most revered comedians ever. The insight about Ruth Carson, Johnny's mother, was very fascinating, not to mention heart shattering. If you are interested in Johnny Carson, I do recommend you read the book.

Jun 14, 2015

I am always interested in a good celebrity biography, especially a star like Johnny Carson. However, this is one that will break your heart. The author, Henry Bushkin, describes in detail his eighteen year journey being everything but a close friend to the incomparable Carson. This was a job he was so excited about at first (who wouldn't be?) but then slowly it turned into a nightmare, much like Carson's personal life. This book is very fascinating but it will also leave you a little sad for everybody who was involved. A great read.

EdgeofHeaven Mar 08, 2015

A depressing portrait of a superb entertainer who drank too much and spent his life alone. Not much is said about the Tonight Show since most of the book details divorce settlements or signing the “big deal” with NBC on May 2, 1980. However there is a good account of Johnny’s decision to move his live show in Las Vegas from the Sahara to Caesars Palace. Joan Rivers, a frequent guest host, shines a bright light in chapter thirteen.

Jun 25, 2014

It is a great book to read. It may cause his star to not shine so bright after reading it. Are we not all humans though?

I'm enjoying this book so far whereas I was initially reluctant in choosing the book because of the author.

A good read and insightful.

Apr 26, 2014

An insightful remembrance of the iconic Johnny Carson by the man Carson once described as his best friend. That friendship ended in bitterness and betrayal, as did so many of Carson's relationships. This book, perhaps better than any ever written about the troubled, enigmatic "King of Late Night," explains why. A good read.

Mar 16, 2014

If you are interested in learning about Johnny Carson, the person, this is the book for you. It was written by Carson's lawyer and confidante. Carson is a complex person; we all know that. However, you really get a sense for who he was from this book. Buskin is a surprisingly good writer and the book moves along quickly. It's true that Bushkin may be a bit too impressed with himself, but he does paint a very credible picture. This is a must-read for Carson fans.

jennyfender Jan 28, 2014

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. A very candid memoir by a close personal friend and business partner.

Nov 06, 2013

such a sad book about a man who had everything-but was so bitter and unhappy that he ultimately really had nothing and died alone at the end.


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Jun 14, 2015

"A man so suspicious of flattery and sentimentality might have appreciated my attempt to paint an accurate portrait of the most thrilling, fun, frustrating, and mysterious relationship of my life - a portrait of a man I loved."

Jun 25, 2014

"....I only kill in self-defense -- what would you do if a rabbit pulled a knife on you?"


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