There is no argument about Johnny Carson’s spot as the King of Late Night. The Tonight Show host reinvented the format, paving the direction for every late night talk show that followed. He was the guy everyone in America either wanted to be or, at least, wanted to know. Side by side with his sidekick Ed McMahon, the Iowa native became an American icon as he made millions of people laugh every night.
Now, you can get to know the magic behind Carson’s career and hear directly from his family, co-workers, peers and the entertainers he helped elevate to stardom. Current late night hosts David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno all appear to talk about Carson’s influence. American Masters producers combed through decades of Tonight Show archives to present the show’s most memorable moments.
You can watch a preview clip from the public television special that reveals the surprising relationship bond between Carson and McMahon below. Also, watch a few outtakes (warning: some salty language in these clips) with comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Garry Shandling and Steve Martin and bandleader Doc Severinsen talking about their personal memories of Carson. Then, tune in to American Masters Monday night to hear, “Heeeeeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!”