Johnny Carson

Icons of the Century

When Carson took his final “Tonight Show” bow May 22, 1992, more than 50 million viewers showed up to see the King of Latenight practice his craft one last time.

Carson spent an astounding 30 years atop the talkshow throne, inspiring a generation of comedians, broadcasters and hosts. He made it look easy, whether he was tweaking the day’s headlines, mugging with zoo animals, chatting up newsmakers or playing one of his famous characters (Carnac, Art Fern).

Yet no other host has come close to matching the cultural impact of Carson, who dropped out of the public spotlight after his final good night, deciding to let his legacy stand on its own.

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