Carson one-of-a-kind on TV

Jan 242005
Authors: Collegian Editorial Staff


"Heeeeeeeere's Johnny!"

Although many of us were too young to receive the thrill of hearing those two magic words, the man they were used to introduce was one of the most influential people to ever grace the small screen.

Former "Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson died Sunday at the age of 79, after spending 30 years helping people laugh their way to sleep every night.

His comedy and personality influenced several generations of celebrities over the roughly 30 years he was on the air.

When Carson reigned as the king of late-night television, there was no battle for the 11:30 p.m. ratings. There was no competition with similar shows on CBS or ABC, as there is now with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel, respectively.

There was just Johnny, with his cohorts Ed McMahon and Doc Severinsen helping move the show along while Carson used his easy-going nature and understated humor to keep the audience laughing in the aisles of NBC's West Coast Studios or guffawing in their La-Z-Boy recliners at home.

Few things were as funny as seeing Johnny get surprised by a wild animal climbing on his head during one segment or watching him do a variation on the old "Who's on First" gag as Ronald Reagan.

So while many of us may not have watched Johnny Carson while he was on the air, it was our loss.

Many Americans lost one of their most consistent friends on Sunday. For them, Johnny will always be here.

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