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King of the Night: The Life of Johnny Carson
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King of the Night: The Life of Johnny Carson

3.3 of 5 stars 3.30  ·  rating details  ·  115 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Johnny Carson was a phenomenon, the most successful performer in the history of television. For the better part of three decades, the enormously popular host of "The Tonight Show" was welcomed into millions of American homes -- as a friend, an entertainer, and an inexhaustibly sage and witty commentator on our lives and times. But there was a dark side to this charming and ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 476 pages
Published March 29th 2005 by Avon (first published 1989)
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Sought this book out after seeing the PBS "American Masters" special on Johnny. He was a big part of my growing up. Being old enough to stay up and watch the monologue was a rite of passage. He was such a fixture on the scene, brought so much joy to so many, and had such pervasive influence on our popular culture that it made me sad to learn what an unhappy man he was. So remote. Unable to really connect with his sons and the women in his life but unable to let them alone, either. As I read, I d ...more
If you're looking for information about the Tonight Show or a history of early TV, this ain't it. It's about a man who's not very interesting and his marriage problems, with lots of misquoted transcripts from forgettable Tonight shows. There's a couple of good bits - a quote on Saturday Night Live: "Basically they do a lot of drug jokes...a lot of stuff I would consider being exceptionally cruel under the guise of being hip...they can't ad-lib a fart at a bean-eating contest". At a party, Carson ...more
Patrick Briggs
Truth be told, I was drawn to this book because of the salacious rumors surrounding Johnny's life. No comment as to their veracity, but he clearly had demons that he never shook. Writing was good, although at times story veered too far from his life and into the complexities of his business dealings. The book is exactly what I expected it to be.
A bit disappointed....I loved Johnny Carson's show and would rather not know all of his problems.
3.5 stars
Had recently watched the PBS American Masters documentary about Johnny Carson and then read the new book out by Henry Bushkin, "Johnny Carson". I started looking for a book that gave me more of Johnny Carson back story and that is how I came upon this book written in 1989. According to one review, this author did not ever meet or talk to Johnny Carson. Have to say that I loved watching Carson's Tonight show and still love watching clips today, but both this book and Bushkin's book confi
One thing this book as going for it is anecdotes, as its practically full of them. It's downside is that these are all unprovable tales told from untrustworthy sources, (ex-wives, ex-lovers, ex-friends, ex-business partners and colleagues), all of which have been scorned by Carson and probably couldn't help to feel contempt, which could lead to bias. Having had a book entitled "King of the Night", I went in reading this book with the goal of learning how this King came to be, and more about "The ...more
Johnny Carson was a man of two faces - one made up of the congenial man who forged an intimate relationship with his late night audience and one who was incapable of a healthy relationship with men or women who was paranoid and untrusting, cold and aloof. While I didn't like the man the author portrayed, he posed some interesting questions about the type of fame that Johnny Carson attained in his career. He was an institution who expected to be treated as such. Could anyone live that way and ret ...more
Caeser Pink
A very entertaining read. Well written and well researched. Most fans are aware that Carson had a dark side. Leamer deals evenhandedly with those issues. Neither judging or wallowing in them.
Sherri Beazley
I never wanted to know this side of Johnny Carson, since I was a huge fan of his when he was alive. I was disappointed to learn that his played around on all of his wives, he was cold to people, and was very much a Scorpio. Meaning, once you cross a Scorpio you will never ever get forgiven. The book was insightful about the man, but disappointing to learn what he was truly like.
Jul 08, 2011 Straker rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of trashy journalism
Decidedly unfriendly biography of the longtime late-night host. It contains numerous salaciously entertaining if unprovable anecdotes, most sourced from various ex-wives and lovers. Much of the second half is devoted to Carson's financial and legal misadventures, which you may or may not find interesting. His final Tonight Show years and his post-television life are not covered as the book was written in the late 1980s.
This is as good as a biography as you're ever going to get, considering that the author never met his subject. Be careful what you wish for. If you want to get a portrait of the "real" Carson, you may not like what you find. Remember him as he was on TV. That's how he wanted to be remembered, and it's only fair if you didn't know him.
I really liked this. I'd always heard about him being a recluse so it was interesting to learn more about why that was and what he was like when the camera was off. He's still greatly missed by me and millions of others, though.
It wasn't Carson that made me give this up; it was the heavy-handed, tangent-prone writing. Even in putting things into context, some things veered far away from the focus on Carson.
Peter Karlin
Decent portrait of a miserable man. Three stars more accurate but giving four because there were parts where I couldn't put it down and that's an accomplishment.
Sal Balistreri
Interesting info about Johnny's personal life. I enjoyed the book but wondered how much of it was true.
Enjoyed reading about Johhny Carson's rise to King of the Night!
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Laurence Leamer has written fourteen books including five New York Times bestsellers. He has worked in a factory in France, a coal mine in West Virginia and as a Peace Corps volunteer in a remote village in Nepal two days from a road. He has written one novel but is primarily known for his nonfiction, especially a trilogy on the Kennedys. His new book, The Price of Justice, is the story of two Pit ...more
More about Laurence Leamer...
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