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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.

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  • GWA1225
  • Williamsburg, VA
  • 03-31-17

Heeeere's Johnny! ~

For those of us who grew up with Carson, his presence at the end of (almost) every day was as reassuring as the prospect of the morrow's sunrise. Dapper, urbane, polished but seemingly self-effacing, he was a lodestar thru often turbulent times.
Henry Bushkin's book gives a fair, sympathetic but unflinching portrait of the complex and mercurial reality behind Johnny's professional persona. As a lifetime lawyer myself, I found Bushkin's narrative articulate and nuanced; though many reviews find the author self-aggrandizing, I found his account believable and engaging both in content and tone.
My affection for Johnny's professional persona has survived this fascinating look behind the curtain and into his burdened soul. Bushkin's account engenders complex emotions that are suitable to the complexities of his subject. It is likely true that Johnny was never completely happy in any deep sense, but he honed his craft to the level of artistry and left millions of us laughing. For that, he'll never be forgotten.

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  • Sam D.
  • Burbank, CA USA
  • 03-28-17

Mean-spirited takedown of an American icon.

What would have made Johnny Carson better?

This should not be marketed as a biography. It's more of an expose' designed to destroy a legend. Henry Bushkin has some SERIOUS issues with his once-friend Johnny Carson, and he's going to try to get even for eleven long hours. It's tedious, humorless, and sad as he paints Carson as a cold, vindictive manipulator.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Yes, Dick Hill was obnoxiously bombastic, which might be a reasonable match for Bushkin's braggadocio, but Hill's characterization made this a less than enjoyable listen.

Any additional comments?

I did learn a lot about the power structure of the American television industry of the 1970-1990s, but always from Bushkin's extremely negative point of view.

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If you grew up with Johnny, you will appreciate it

I understand the criticism of the book, but still, this was a great behind-the-scenes look at a man who graced my tv for years. Somehow, the revelations didn't come as a surprise, which was a surprise in itself. Worth the read for sure.

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I don't often read books about celebs . .

and rarely watched the Tonight Show, more so because it was on too late for me. But before embarking on this review, I was curious to see what others had to say and found them to be extremely critical. True, this story is told from one side. Isn't that usually the case when an author decides to tell all? AND . . . . if you don't like what you have listened to, find another book about the same celeb from a different author to get a different point of view? I honestly don't know what drew me to this selection other than the fact that I had listened to one about Willie Nelson, which I also thoroughly enjoyed. Overall, I found this particular story very interesting and had no problem with the narration.

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Loved it

I really enjoyed this book. It feels like the author is telling it the way it was... Our at least, the way he experienced being so close to Johnny Carson. He was was a tough man, but a private man.

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Not what you think but very good

Don't let the title of this book or some if the reviews here confuse you. This is not a biography of Johnny Carson. It is the story of the author's relationship of Carson. But as some other people have said, that doesn't make it a bad book. I found it fascinating and entertaining. I think the author is not building himself up as stated elsewhere but tells an evenhanded account of his story while being Carson's attorney. If you think that this subject would be interesting to you, I highly suggest you listen.

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Great book! Hard to stop once you start.

What did you love best about Johnny Carson?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

Which scene was your favorite?

The jokes he tells in the book.

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

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

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Tribute to the Wrong Man

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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Sad but true

It's sad that you can't trust people when money is involved ! I will never forget that !!!

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Balanced portrayal

Engrossing and interesting and a must read about an utterly fascinating man .