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.
It provides interesting information about Carson but too much about Bushkin himself.
Not a good actor.
Who would be the main character, Bushkin or Carson?
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.
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.
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.
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.
I now understand Johnny Carson better, but he's sadly unlikeable.
The narrator, Dick Hill, has a whiny voice I finally got used to.
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.
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