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 country’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, Carson’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 27) until the moment 18 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 Bushkin’s first assignments was helping Carson break into a posh Manhattan apartment to gather evidence of his wife’s infidelity. More than once, Bushkin helped his client avoid entanglements with the mob. Of course, Carson’s adventures weren’t all so sordid. He hosted Ronald Reagan’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 isn’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 couldn’t visit his son in the hospital and wouldn’t attend his mother’s funeral; and much more. Bushkin’s account 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. Johnny Carson unveils not only the hidden Carson, but also the raucous, star-studded world he ruled.
©2013 Henry Bushkin (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
No idea. An entertainment lawyer?
Done more research, this book isn't about Johnny Carson so much as Bushkin's experiences with Carson.
Always sounded like he was attempting to mimic the subject but missed by a mile.
I can't stress enough that this book is really more about the lawyer than Carson. It's not very flattering and comes off as mostly bitter.
The book is punctuated with memorable moments. Moments that depict Johnny Carson as a mean vindictive person one moment and a smiling king of late night TV the next. It is interesting to watch Johnny change.
I regularly watched "The Tonight Show" and enjoyed learning about the whys and wherefores of backstage intrigue but was particularly stuck by the events leading up to and after President Reagan's inaugural celebrations. I dare say we would never know about the inner life of Johnny Carson without Henry Bushkin's presence.
I always loved Johnny Carson's life and career. Knowing what I know now, I am a little more guarded in my appreciation of Carson's life. He was obviously very talented and respected but he was also a devious heavy handed manager of his product. Undoubtedly it would never have been so successful without his hand on the wheel guiding every aspect of its success.
Bushkin was there for just about every major moment of Carson's career. As his best friend and personal advisor, he holds back nothing. He doesn't hesitate to share the good with the bad and points out Carson's shortcomings from his early days while still celebrating his many notable successes.
Bushkin provided an interesting narrative about Carson, his life and the entertainment world he lived in. But at times, I couldn't help wondering if Bushkin should have kept some of his grievances to himself, given his long personal and professional relationship with Carson. Still, it was a good listen, even though the narrator's voice got annoying at times.
The story would have been better if it was more about Johnny Carson and less about Henry Bushkin. It just seemed like a chance for Mr. Bushkin to write his autobiography and get people to read it when they never would have by putting Johnnies name on it
This book contains a number of interesting anecdotes, stories and insights; however, it is poorly written and terribly narrated. It is the self-aggrandizing story of someone who was in the right place at the right time, initially did a good job, and finally grew "too big for his britches."
Fascinating, Informational, Irritating
For content, yes. Unfortunately, from the opening minutes, the narrator made it quite clear that this was going to be a struggle to listen to at all, let alone all at once.
I'd just like to say, it's not fun for me to write negative reviews, of anything. If Dick Hill has battled some sort of health issues, I truly hope he recovers fully but, there's no reason for him to continue in the field of narration. He constantly runs out of breath mid-sentence and frequently, mid-word. If anyone is old enough to remember, the closest comparison I can find is Mr. Magoo. It's just unfortunate that such a compelling story was almost ruined, it could have been a pleasure with virtually any other competent narrator.
I enjoyed hearing about his private life and the back story of his TV career.
Henry Bushkin. Dick did an excellent job of reading and keeping me interested.
The stories that are in the book about Johnny and other stars. The behind the curtain information he gives us and the look at a man who had it all but was never happy.
That it never got boring. The more you read the more you want to read. I also like how he can help the reader to understand why Johnny was like he was. This is not Johnny Dearest book this is a book about a man who never learned how to be loved or to love and how that can make him act and treat others.
The jokes he tells in the book.
It made me feel sorry for Johnny and for the people in his life. I was disgusted with how Johnny's mother treated him and what that did to him as a child and as a grown man.
I really thought this would be a dull boring book and was so wrong. I loved it and I think anyone who grew up watching Johnny will love this book. I also like how he talks about the whole Joan Rivers mess and whom he feels is really to blame for it. Very interesting stuff.
Say something about yourself!
This book is Henry Bushkin's tribute to ... Henry Bushkin. Johnny Carson seems to have existed only because of Bushkin. Dick Hill, who I like very much, blows this one. He reads Bushkin like he was Jack Reacher. Bushkin is no Jack Reacher. He is just another scumbag lawyer! Save your credit on this one.
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