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Johnny Carson | [Henry Bushkin]

Johnny Carson

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (437 )
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4.0 (391 )
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Performance
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  •  
    LawmanDoug 02-17-15
    LawmanDoug 02-17-15 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    2
    Overall
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    Story
    "The best biography of a beloved star"

    I grew up with Johnny in our living room and relished this insight from a great lawyer who helped make Johnny successful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terence 02-17-15
    Terence 02-17-15 Member Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    46
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Misnamed book"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    It provides interesting information about Carson but too much about Bushkin himself.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    None.


    Did Dick Hill do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    Not a good actor.


    Could you see Johnny Carson being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Who would be the main character, Bushkin or Carson?


    Any additional comments?

    The book is worthwhile but should not be presented as a biography of Carson. It is a memoir of one person's years with Carson.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Santoyo 02-07-15
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    1
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    "Great storyline of Johnny Carson"

    Johnny we hardly knew you!
    Sometimes you can have everything but your past catches up with you!
    Enjoyed this!! Awesome!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Breanne 01-28-15
    Breanne 01-28-15 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    25
    1
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    Story
    "Shouldv'e been called "Bushkin and Carson""
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    No idea. An entertainment lawyer?


    What could Henry Bushkin have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Done more research, this book isn't about Johnny Carson so much as Bushkin's experiences with Carson.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Always sounded like he was attempting to mimic the subject but missed by a mile.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Not really.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John N. Berg Portland, Oregon 01-26-15
    John N. Berg Portland, Oregon 01-26-15 Member Since 2014

    buddhapop

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    "Yes, Carson could be an jerk, but an interesting"

    If you are of a certain age you know how big of a star Johnny Carson was. For years he was one of the most important cultural figures around. Well, his lawyer tells some interesting stories about his business and personal dealings with the star. The story was interesting, but I was left with the feeling that there was more than just Bushkin's side to events. Its an entertaining listen. I didn't care for the narration, though. Too slow and it sounded like the narrator had consumed some of the cocktails mentioned in the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harold 01-19-15
    Harold 01-19-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Exceptionally Detailed"

    Excellent narration. Book content did jump about chronologically a good bit. Best listened to in lengthy sessions.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    peter heinbecker 01-16-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Fascinating."

    Well written and entertaining. Well worth reading. Author knew Johnny Carson well. His end of life deterioration is well documented.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mrs. Debra E. Humm-bremser Pacific Grove, CA 01-04-15
    Mrs. Debra E. Humm-bremser Pacific Grove, CA 01-04-15 Member Since 2013

    I decided to use my time being laid up to get smarter! In 18 months I've listened to over 200 books, mostly history, literature & biography.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Complicated Man, distracting narrator"

    I now understand Johnny Carson better, but he's sadly unlikeable.
    The narrator, Dick Hill, has a whiny voice I finally got used to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan 01-03-15
    Susan 01-03-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Interesting read"

    Sad to find the people who brought joy in your life really had none in theirs. Loved the tonight show.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Sevierville, TN United States 11-08-14
    Amazon Customer Sevierville, TN United States 11-08-14 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hereee's Johnny"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Johnny Carson to be better than the print version?

    Yes


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Johnny Carson?

    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.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    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.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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