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.
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I was never much of a regular Tonight Show fan, neither during Carson nor Leno’s reign, but I do like Jimmy Fallon so I’ve started watching. (So far so good).
Like most people, I naturally associate Johnny Carson with The Tonight Show and I became curious about why Carson’s era (before my time) is perceived as “ground breaking” - naturally therefore, I decided to pick up a book about his life.
This was not really a biography in the true sense of the word i.e.: born in this city in this year, went to school here, mother did this, father did that, siblings coming along, growing up, getting married, starting a family etc etc etc, instead it was recollections from Carson’s lawyer since the late 70s. A Gossipy Tell All a-la “Carson’s Lawyer Speaks Out!”.
I liked it; it was full of interesting tid-bits and entertaining anecdotes about his experiences with J.C. - not what I was expecting at all, but not disappointing.
Probably not. Bushkin doesnt have anything else to write about and I was not all that impressed with Dick Hills reading.
Kind of blah. It just sort of ended. I would have liked to know more about Carsons last decade and a half but it was a book about his time with the author so it had to end rather suddenly.
Yeah....I was not that impressed with his reading, but it didn't detract from the story.
Yes...barely. Only because I was very interested in the subject.
The book is not nearly salacious enough, for all the talk about how Bushkin has betrayed Carson. He almost never names names when talking about the many Carson love affairs, and most of the people that Carson has issues with, that Bushkin also deals with, are faceless business people or lawyers. Its interesting reading, but kind of unsatisfying.
His sense of humor!
All the old story about his life!
The tone of his narration!
It made me laugh and then cry!
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