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Johnny Carsonby Henry Bushkin
Synopses & Reviews
A revealing and incisive account of the King of Late Night at the height of his fame and power, by his lawyer, wingman, fixer, and closest confidant
From 1962 until 1992, Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show and permeated the American consciousness. In the 70s and 80s he was the countrys highest-paid entertainer and its most enigmatic. He was notoriously inscrutable, as mercurial (and sometimes cruel) off-camera as he was charming and hilarious onstage. During the apex of his reign, Carsons longtime lawyer and best friend was Henry Bushkin, who now shows us Johnny Carson with a breathtaking clarity and depth that nobody else could.
From the moment in 1970 when Carson hired Bushkin (who was just twenty-seven) until the moment eighteen years later when they parted ways, the author witnessed and often took part in a string of escapades that still retain their power to surprise and fascinate us. One of Bushkins first assignments was helping Carson break into a posh Manhattan apartment to gather evidence of his wifes infidelity. More than once, Bushkin helped his client avoid entanglements with the mob. Of course, Carsons adventures werent all so sordid. He hosted Ronald Reagans inaugural concert as a favor to the new president, and he prevented a drunken Dean Martin from appearing onstage that evening. Carson socialized with Frank Sinatra, Jack Lemmon, Jimmy Stewart, Kirk Douglas, and dozens of other boldface names who populate this atmospheric and propulsive chronicle of the King of Late Night and his world.
But this memoir isnt just dishy. It is a tautly rendered and remarkably nuanced portrait of Carson, revealing not only how he truly was, but why. Bushkin explains why Carson, a voracious (and very talented) womanizer, felt he always had to be married; why he loathed small talk even as he excelled at it; why he couldnt visit his son in the hospital and wouldnt attend his mothers funeral; and much more. Bushkins account is by turns shocking, poignant, and uproarious — written with a novelists eye for detail, a screenwriters ear for dialogue, and a knack for comic timing that Carson himself would relish. Johnny Carson unveils not only the hidden Carson, but also the raucous, star-studded world he ruled.
"Bushkin performed many roles for the King of Late Night Johnny Carson during their 18-year relationship — lawyer, advisor, tennis partner, to name a few — but the role of best friend is the one that never quite fit. In this biography/memoir hybrid, Bushkin recounts his tenure working under Carson at Carson Productions and living it up with his boss in Vegas and on yachts. He provides a keen glimpse at what this iconic comedian was really like: a man who was generous and beloved but 'capable of marring a nice moment with a cutting remark.' And it was those cutting remarks and erratically sour moods, which Bushkin blames on Carson's fraught relationship with his mother, that pushed others away from Carson, including three wives, and eventually poisoned his relationship with the author. Bushkin constantly reevaluates their relationship as he reveals the monstrous side of Carson and how fearful Bushkin was of incurring his wrath. With all this, the book is an insightful glimpse into the world of The Tonight Show and the star-studded life of Carson. An addictive read. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
An endlessly dishy and incisive account of the King of Late Night at the height of his fame and power, by his lawyer, wingman, fixer, and closest confidant.
“A close look at how show business power corrupts . . . The dishiest read of the year.” – Janet Maslin, “Ten Favorite Books of the Year,” New York Times
“Here’s Johnny!” Probably everyone in America knows the phrase, whether they watched every episode of The Tonight Show or none because they had to go to bed early on school nights. From 1961 to 1993, Johnny Carson and his Tonight Show dominated the American consciousness.
Henry Bushkin was Carson’s best friend and lawyer during that period, and his book is a tautly rendered and remarkably nuanced portrait of Carson, revealing not only how he truly was, but why. Bushkin explains why Carson, a voracious (and very talented) womanizer, felt he always had to be married; why he couldn’t visit his son in the hospital and wouldn’t attend his mother’s funeral; and much more. Johnny Carson is by turns shocking, poignant, and uproarious — written with a novelist’s eye for detail, a screenwriter’s ear for dialogue, and a knack for comic timing that Carson himself would relish.
“A fascinating book about a complex man.” — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Like The Tonight Show, the book has many a merry moment . . . [Johnny Carson] was also one of a kind, and is missed. This book brings a bit of him back.” — St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A People magazine Top Ten Book of the Year
About the Author
Henry Bushkin is a lawyer living in Los Angeles. For 18 years, he was Johnny Carson's personal legal adviser, fixer, confidant, and close friend.
Table of Contents
1979: The Star Among Stars 1
1970: Breaking In 19
1970: Calamity John 41
1972: Joanne and Joanna 58
1972-1978: Stairway to Paradise 80
1979: NBC — See Ya 104
1979-1980: Free Agency 119
1979-1980: Clear Sailing 139
1980-1981: The Inauguration 153
1972-1980: Vegas 176
1980-1984: Hobsons Choices 201
1982-1985: Homme et Femme 216
1982-1985: Days of Weinberger and Neuroses 230
1987: Darkness Falls 248
1987-1988: The End 264
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