Johnny Carson’s wit, sensibilities, and charisma shaped the comic landscape of his generation and directly inspired the creative minds that will propagate comedy for the indefinite future. Behind his nightly routine, however, was a deeply insecure and pathologically paranoid man caught wide-eyed in the spotlights of show business. His excesses and indiscretions are the stuff of legend, and his influence and cultural cachet made him an all but unknowable entity. Henry Bushkin, longtime lawyer and sometimes friend to the King of Late Night, has scaled Carson’s self-imposed walls of inaccessibility to reveal the complex figure beneath the tuxedo in his biography Johnny Carson.
A guarded Midwesterner with a penchant for mayhem and a clockmaker’s eye for one-liners, Johnny Carson was a man of two worlds. His public personae was an effusive and hilarious class act, while he often seethed in a private stupor over perceived sleights and betrayals. Yet, even with his personal life in a perpetual shamble, Carson lit up the world with charm and mirth every night of the week.
Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin explores Carson’s relationship with his friends, associates, wives, and mistresses for the better part of three decades. With a lawyer’s approach to mystery, it unwraps its enigmatic subject to disclose the vast infinity of puzzles waiting beneath.