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 and#8217;70s and and#8217;80s he was the countryand#8217;s 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, Carsonand#8217;s 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 Bushkinand#8217;s first assignments was helping Carson break into a posh Manhattan apartment to gather evidence of his wifeand#8217;s infidelity. More than once, Bushkin helped his client avoid entanglements with the mob. Of course, Carsonand#8217;s adventures werenand#8217;t all so sordid. He hosted Ronald Reaganand#8217;s 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 isnand#8217;t 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 couldnand#8217;t visit his son in the hospital and wouldnand#8217;t attend his motherand#8217;s funeral; and much more. Bushkinand#8217;s account is by turns shocking, poignant, and uproarious and#8212; written with a novelistand#8217;s eye for detail, a screenwriterand#8217;s 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.
"Twenty years since retiring and eight since his death, Carson remains the god of late night and the dean of American comedy." -- New York Magazine, Fall Preview
"Most readers will be captivated by this high-definition, off-camera, extreme close-up view of the enigmatic entertainer." -- Kirkus Reviews
and#8220;Henry Bushkinand#8217;s and#8216;Johnny Carsonand#8217; is that rare celebrity tell-all by an author who knows whom and what heand#8217;s talking about.and#8221; and#8211; The New York Times
and#8220;Few books like and#8216;Johnny Carsonand#8217; have been more engrossing. It's not just a juicy peek inside a celebrity's life...Bushkin's memoir is also a well-written corporate tale that reveals the tough business of staying America's favorite late-night host, full of stories of money, sex and skullduggery, peppered with plenty of laughs.and#8221; and#8211; The Associated Press
and#8220;This is not a tawdry tell-all but rather, an insightful and sobering character study of a tortured man and failed husband and father, as told through the eyes and experiences of one of his closest confidantes.and#8221; and#8211; Huffington Post
and#8220;[a] gracefully written, often insightful memoirand#8221; and#8211; The Daily Beast
"Twenty years since retiring and eight since his death, Carson remains the god of late night and the dean of American comedy." and#8211; New York Magazine, Fall Preview
"Most readers will be captivated by this high-definition, off-camera, extreme close-up view of the enigmatic entertainer." and#8211; Kirkus
"The book bears effective witness to a swinging era when celebrities were 'entertainers,' the highball glass was never empty, there were only three channels on TV, and Carson was its king.and#8221;and#8211; Bloomberg Businessweek
"Show-business junkies old enough to have spent many of their late nights between 1962 and 1992 watching Johnny Carson, 'the King of Late Night,' will likely devour this long-anticipated memoir in one gulp...The portrait of Carson offered here, though, goes way beyond dish: it is a genuinely multifaceted look at the burdens and the excesses of celebrity. Equally fascinating, though, is Bushkinand#8217;s own story." - Booklist
"An insightful glimpse into the world of The Tonight Show and the star-studded life of Carson. An addictive read." - Publishers Weekly
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.
andldquo;A close look at how show business power corrupts . . . The dishiest read of the year.andrdquo; andndash; Janet Maslin, andldquo;Ten Favorite Books of the Year,andrdquo;and#160;New York Times
andldquo;Hereandrsquo;s Johnny!andrdquo; Probably everyone in America knows the phrase, whether they watched every episode ofand#160;The Tonight Showand#160;or none because they had to go to bed early on school nights. From 1962 to 1992, Johnny Carson and hisand#160;Tonight Showand#160;dominated the American consciousness.
Henry Bushkin was Carsonandrsquo;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 couldnandrsquo;t visit his son in the hospital and wouldnandrsquo;t attend his motherandrsquo;s funeral; and much more.and#160;Johnny Carsonand#160;is by turns shocking, poignant, and uproarious andmdash; written with a novelistandrsquo;s eye for detail, a screenwriterandrsquo;s ear for dialogue, and a knack for comic timing that Carson himself would relish.
andldquo;A fascinating book about a complex man.andrdquo; andmdash;and#160;Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
andldquo;Likeand#160;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.andrdquo; andmdash;and#160;St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Aand#160;Peopleand#160;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