Johnny Carson

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Click for availability and more information Johnny Carson, by Henry Bushkin
 
When I was growing up, I used to hear everyone talking about The Tonight Show with host Johnny Carson. He seemed to be larger than life. I usually didn't stay up that late to watch him, so I didn't really know that much about him. Recently, I spotted a downloadable book by Henry Bushkin titled (what else) Johnny Carson. I've always been curious about the rich and famous, and since Carson was so popular in the 1960s, I thought I'd do a little research.

The book picks up as Carson is firmly entrenched as the host of The Tonight Show. Henry Bushkin becomes Carson's attorney, as well as adviser, confidant and friend. Bushkin determines Carson's previous advisers were not looking after his best interests, but were worried about lining their own pockets. In fact, Carson was signed to a surprisingly large number of unprofitable deals. Despite making tons of money for NBC, he had little to show for it. Bushkin turned this all around, and helped make Carson the most successful star in TV history. The book describes a lot of the wheeling and dealing that goes on behind the scenes.

Despite all this success, Carson was a very insecure and unhappy person. He grew up in Nebraska. His mother was uncompassionate, unappreciative and very cold. Not what you'd call very loving. In a case of "the nut not falling far from the tree", Carson became estranged from his 3 children, the result of 3 failed marriages. The fact that he was a heavy drinker and womanizer didn't help matters any. Bushkin devoted a lot of time to his demanding boss, and started emulating his womanizing ways - resulting in his failed marriage. When Carson announces he wants to leave the "Tonight Show" because he is burned out, this sets into motion a series of events which has an interesting end. Sometimes, despite all the celebrity, someone can be struggling with life. Johnny Carson was a prime example.

This book presents a very balanced look at the great entertainer. Bushkin is in a unique position to describe Carson's personal and professional life firsthand. It's well-written and easy to follow. Every time I picked it up to read, I had a hard time putting it down. You should give it a try.
-Carl

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This page contains a single entry published on November 25, 2013 8:09 PM.

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