Theeeeerrre’s Johnny!

Who doesn’t have a fond memory of old Johnny? While nobody really knew him, we all felt like we were his pal. Yesterday’s New York Times had a piece on Carson’s relationship with The Big Apple, where for ten years he played host to Truman Capote, Tony Randall, Mayor John Lindsay and so many more icons who made the era. New York was the Center of the World, and when the show departed for Burbank in 1972, to be nearer the Hollywood guests, it left a hole that would take a decade and David Letterman to be filled. Skitch Henderson, the Tonight Show’s musical director, recalled:

“The New York show had an edge to it that was healthy. Hollywood was like chocolate syrup; it smothered you. When the show went to California, it became their world.”

I’ll never forget the poignant last show in 1992, that I watched with my father Nat in New Jersey. Johnny sat on that stool in front of the curtain he used to leap through, said goodbye and choked up just a bit, then told us how much fun he had had all of those years…And he never came back.