12:15 PM EDT 03/19/2015


Johnny Carson

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Who Was Johnny Carson's Least Favorite Tonight Show Guest? | Bob Hope, Johnny Carson

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New Book Reveals Johnny Carson's Least Favorite Tonight Show Guest: Bob Hope

Originally posted 11/06/2014 01:40PM

Richard Zoglin is the author of Hope: Entertainer of the Century, published this week by Simon & Schuster and cited by reviewers as the definitive biography of the comedy legend. In its current issue, PEOPLE singles it out as the book of the week. Here, an excerpt from the work.

Viewers of The Tonight Show during the 1970s and '80s might have assumed that Bob Hope was one of Johnny Carson's favorite guests.

No one appeared on the show more often than the comedy legend, and his guest appearances clung to a familiar, almost comical ritual. He would walk out to the strains of his theme song, "Thanks for the Memory" – sometimes unannounced, supposedly a "surprise" guest.

After some banter with Johnny, sprinkled with Hope's obviously prepared gag lines, he would introduce a reel of taped highlights from his upcoming special. Then he would scoot away, always with somewhere urgent to go.

One of those who grew tired of the routine was Johnny Carson.

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Joan Rivers, Johnny Carson & the Bumpy Road to Tonight | Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers, Johnny Carson & the Bumpy Road to Tonight

Originally posted 09/04/2014 03:15PM

Joan Rivers, who died on Thursday, was one of late-night television's true pioneers. And inextricably tied to her legacy of trailblazing is her relationship with The Tonight Show, and the long shadow that Johnny Carson cast over her career.

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Watch Joan Rivers Return to Tonight Show Couch for the First Time in 26 Years

Joan Rivers Returns to Tonight Show Couch for the First Time in 26 Years

Originally posted 03/28/2014 09:00AM

It was one of comedy's most famous feuds: Johnny Carson, angry that frequent guest host Joan Rivers had gotten her own late-night talk show, banned her from The Tonight Show in a fit of pique.

And now it's over.

On Thursday night, Rivers made her first appearance on the Tonight Show couch in 26 years. (Jay Leno, perhaps wary after his rocky introduction, continued Carson's blacklisting; Conan presumably had other things on his mind.)

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PEOPLE's TV Critic: So Long, Farewell, Jay Leno – But It Was Time to Say Goodbye | Jay Leno

PEOPLE's TV Critic: So Long, Farewell, Jay Leno – But It Was Time to Say Goodbye

Originally posted 02/07/2014 06:15AM

Jay Leno left NBC's The Tonight Show after 22 years Thursday night with a farewell that included old friends Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks and – the one big stunt – a large surprise ensemble of guests (Oprah Winfrey, Kim Kardashian, Jack Black) singing novelty lyrics to "So Long, Farewell" from The Sound of Music.

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Jay Leno Bids Tearful Goodbye to Tonight Show After 22 Years | Billy Crystal, Jay Leno

Jay Leno Bids Tearful Goodbye to Tonight Show After 22 Years

Originally posted 02/06/2014 10:00PM

Even on a bittersweet night, there had to be jokes.

Jay Leno has hosted The Tonight Show for a loooooong time. So tell us, Jay, how long was it?

"Here's how long," he said Thursday. "When I started hosting, marijuana was illegal and you could smoke cigarettes anywhere you wanted."

Actually, it was 22 years since he took over for Johnny Carson at NBC's venerable late-night show from beautiful downtown Burbank, not counting seven disastrous months in 2009 when Conan O'Brien helmed the program.

Now leaving a second time to make way for a new host – Jimmy Fallon – and a new city – New York – Leno, 63, said on his final show that this time it was his decision.

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Check Out NBC's First Tonight Show Promo with Jimmy Fallon

NBC Debuts First Tonight Show Promo with Jimmy Fallon

Originally posted 01/06/2014 12:30PM

Heeeeeere's … Jimmy!

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What We're Reading This Weekend: Tales of the Rich and Famous

What We're Reading

What We're Reading This Weekend: Tales of the Rich and Famous

Originally posted 10/17/2013 05:30PM

Johnny Carson's womanizing, Billy Crystal's take on aging, Aisha Tyler's many accidents … This weekend our staffers are losing themselves in stars' life stories.

Tell us what you think – and let us know what you're reading!

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Credit: Courtesy Jeff Sotzing
Heeere's Johnny! Carson's Nephew Wants Him to Have New Fans (Video)

Johnny Carson's Nephew Brings Tonight Show to New Generation

Originally posted 07/23/2013 09:00AM

Heeere's Johnny!

Twenty-one years after the King of Late Night retired from NBC's The Tonight Show after a 30-year run, Johnny Carson is back on the small screen – this time on tablets and smartphones via iTunes starting Tuesday.

Carson, who was 79 when he died of emphysema in 2005, filmed 4,351 episodes of the late-night staple.

Now, users will have the chance to discover archived appearances of some of showbiz's most iconic stars, including a young Drew Barrymore, a soon-to-be president Bill Clinton, Bette Midler – who, as Carson's final guest, memorably delivered his favorite song, "One For My Baby (And One More for the Road)" on the second-to last episode – and Ellen DeGeneres, in one of her first TV appearances ever.

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Jonathan Winters Dies at 87 | Jonathan Winters

Jonathan Winters Dies at 87

Originally posted 04/12/2013 01:30PM

Jonathan Winters – an improvisational genius and the comedic spiritual godfather to a generation of younger comics, including Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and the late Andy Kaufman – died of natural causes Thursday night. He was surrounded by family and friends at his home in Montecito, Calif., the Associated Press reports. He was 87.

Tweeted Steve Martin on Friday: "Goodbye, Jonath[a]n Winters. You were not only one of the greats, but one of the great greats."

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Remember Rodney Allen Rippy? He's Running for Mayor!

Former Child Actor Rodney Allen Rippy Running for Mayor of Compton, Calif.

Originally posted 04/09/2013 02:20PM

In the 1970s, after McDonald's introduced Ronald but before Wendy's introduced the elderly "Where's the Beef?" lady, the Jack in the Box fast-food chain featured commercials with a cherubic Rodney Allen Rippy, no more than 4, attempting to bite into a Jumbo Jack.

"It's too big to eat!" says the tot, barely distinguishable because of the food in his mouth. (See commercial in video below.)

How famous did cute little Rodney become? Enough for Tonight Show host Johnny Carson to mention him in monologues. Enough for Michael Jackson, who was 10 years Rodney's senior, to befriend him at the time.

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