Johnny Carson Biography

BioPicBorn on October 23, 1925, Carson grew up in Norfolk, Nebraska.

Perhaps Johnny was destined to be the King of Late Night. At 14 he had a magic act called "The Great Carsoni." At 20, as an Ensign serving aboard the USS Pennsylvania, Johnny entertained enlisted men during shows on the ship. While a student at the University of Nebraska, he also worked at a local radio station, KFAB and later at WOW in Omaha, where he wrote comedy and announced commercials.

Deciding that his entertainment future was in California, he landed a job in 1950 as staff announcer for KNXT in Los Angeles, where he soon hosted, "Carson's Cellar." He suspended his on-camera work to write material for Red Skelton's TV program. One night, Skelton ran into a breakaway door and suffered a concussion during rehearsal. Johnny went on in Red Skelton's place, opening with a monologue he had put together while driving to the studio. Jack Benny's said after: "You better watch that Carson kid. The kid is great..."

At 29, Carson became host of his own network show, "Earn Your Vacation," while also appearing as a substitute host for another up and coming TV personality, Jack Paar, on CBS's "The Morning Show." In 1957, Johnny moved to ABC as host of a new daytime game show, "Who Do You Trust?" where he was teamed with his future "Tonight" announcer, Ed McMahon. In 1958 he was again asked to fill in for Paar, this time on NBC's "The Tonight Show." On October 1, 1962, Groucho Marx introduced Carson to the nation's late-night television audience as the new host of "The Tonight Show" and the rest, as they say, is history!