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.
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.
Talented, intelligent, and psycho.
The writer seemed to be honest with his story.
Several really. Possibly a scene with Carson, some criminal types, and a few cops breaking into his wife's secret apartment. Breaking into her apartment Johnny learned a number of facts about his wife he did not like.
I would have if time permitted.
Very interesting man. I am thankful I did not know him.
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."
As a veteran of the Hollywood Hustle, Henry's detailed account of the "business" of the Business rings all too true for me. The back story often has little to do with the entertainment we experience on screen. As long as Johnny was the "Tonight Show" I watched it religiously...and I was rarely disappointed in its contents. This book is a "buddy" story told by a caring friend and former employee who honors the subject with his candor, and the accuracy of 20/20 hindsight. By the end of the book, you too will miss the King of night time television all over again.
Chris Abraham is a leading expert in digital: online reputation management (ORM), Internet privacy, social media marketing, and digital PR w
My buddy David Gelles recommended this book. The recommendation was random from such a young man and also because I had never mentioned Johnny Carson before. The Tonight Show was the background music of my entire growing up -- Carson and David Letterman. While I turned on Late Night with David Letterman on my own, my mom and dad watched the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and so the memories of the man were shallow and woven into family time (yes, either my parents stayed up late or maybe they broadcast it earlier in Hawaii). And, I loved the wry and oddly-sharp-dressed man. His hi-jinx and charm. This book dirties this a little bit, since Carson was both the worst of the worst when it came to living the high-life as well as loyal and strangely Midwestern. Henry Bushkin, Carson's lawyer and best friend for 17 or so years, opened the door on all of his skeletons, revealing so many insights into his life that Johnny Carson, the private man that he was, would probably be completely freaked and offended while also being touched. And, in the end, you both revile and admire the man. It's a good book. Henry Bushkin does a very good job and making what could be very much an insider's book, written only for the Hollywood set, into a very readable and accessible book. Entertaining, even. And, what's more: you also get a side-glance at quite a few other people, relationships, stars, and starlets (to Kathie Lee's chagrin). I wholly recommend this book. I read it as an audiobook and the voice actor was very good. With his tone and cadence, it really felt like it could have been Henry Bushkin reading. Thanks, Mr. Gelles.
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