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Johnny Carson

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  2,524 ratings  ·  444 reviews
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
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Hardcover, 279 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2013)
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JoAnne Pulcino
JOHNNY CARSON

Henry Bushkin

I'm going to remember Johnny Carson as the master of the late night talk shows. Other than that there's not much to say about him personally.

He was a remote, angry, drinker and womanizer with very little warmth. He himself said he was not a good husband or father. He was not a nice man, and I'm surprised his attorney and friend Henry Bushkin wrote this book revealing so much especially considering his great personal losses due to his relationship with Mr. Carson.
Matt
Just know what you're getting here. While the book is titled "Johnny Carson," it more accurately would be called "Bombastic Bushkin: The True-Life Story of What It Was Like To Be Johnny Carson's Lawyer."

In other words, there is little insight about Carson the icon, the entertainer, or the man. Learn instead about what it was like to be a satellite to Carson's burning sun. Did you know that after dumping his college sweetheart, Bushkin dated Three's Company's Joyce DeWitt? It's true!

Weirdly enter
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Jkhickel
Proving exactly what kind of a clever lawyer he is, Henry Bushkin waited until Johnny Carson was dead and cold in his grave before publishing this book, giving Bushkin some measure of protection against any possible charges of libel or violating Carson’s attorney-client confidentiality. Very professional, Bushkin.

Here is Bombastic Bushkin’s book, in a nutshell: When he first met Bushkin, Johnny Carson led a cold, lonely, suspicious life, and he was surrounded by incompetence and corruption. Bush
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Mac
Who wants to read about a demanding, difficult, and damaged person with a suave, confident persona on air and a shy, sad, isolated life when not before an audience? Who wants to read about such a mercurial personality who hurts others, fires people, and divorces wives with cruel, bitter remarks? Who wants to read about someone who so cavalierly cheats on his wives and ignores his children? And who wants to listen to a self-serving author who believes Johnny would be pleased the book is cruelly r ...more
Joe
As a child my very first hero was Johnny. If anyone ever asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say, I want to be a comedian like Johnny Carson.

It's not hard to see why he would be such a fascinating figure to a small Nebraskan boy. He too came from a small Nebraskan town and made a living making people laugh. Let's just say, that sounded like the greatest thing in the world to a strange, silly kid who enjoyed making his brother laugh with (usually comically bad) impressions
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Susan
A story of an unrequited love.

I think we all have stories that we hear our elders tell about us when we were younger that we have to smile at, even if we're not sure they're true. One story along those lines for me is about how the mother of one of my childhood friend's came into her living room at 11:45 to find me sitting on the floor watching The Tonight Show. She said when she asked me what I was doing up, I replied "Watching Johnny." Apparently, there was no reasoning with me when I was wa
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Karin Slaughter
I kind of felt weird about this, because it was fascinating, but I was keenly aware that Carson would've been furious about having his secrets told. I also wondered about the author saying he's the only one who never took advantage of Carson (as so many people did), but here's this book...
tina
Jan 03, 2014 tina added it
My end of year reading left big holes in my reading heart. It's my own fault. what was i expecting from books entitled "merde" and "johnny carson" ? oh well - at least i didn't buy this book. i did however expect to laugh at "johnny carson". (I also expected to laugh at "merde"). But I didn't laugh once. Not once. Although I was very young when this man was in his prime, I watched and liked his show. I expected to like the book. Bushkin does not want that; his goal is to dispel generally favorab ...more
Doug
For a lifelong fan of Johnny Carson like me this was an interesting but bittersweet read. Johnny helped me through many an evening back in the day when there was nothing to do and little to watch on the three or four channels in existence at the time. Henry Bushkin - I remember Johnny's references on the show to "Bombastic Bushkin" - started as Johnny's lawyer but quickly became his tennis partner, advisor, even business partner. Although The Tonight Show is discussed, Bushkin's real contributio ...more
Nick
If you have read any of the recent articles reviewing this book, you won't be surprised by much. I think everything remotely shocking was covered and exaggerated to its fullest before this book hit the shelves. Yes, Johnny was at times nice and at times nasty. Yes, the mob makes a scary appearance, and so does Frank Gifford, or at least his apartment.
Johnny was the most generous man in the world one minute, yet cold-blooded and ruthless the next. Friendships end and begin on a dime. Yes, Johnny
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Still
Terrific read for anyone old enough to have been able to appreciate what a rare talent Carson was as host of a tv talk show.
Review to follow.

Well ... if it's a review you want check out my updates.
I do want to clarify/correct one important fact I got wrong in one of the updates.
The former Carson wife who cared for Truman Capote in his fading months was Joanne -wife #2- NOT Joanna -wife #3-.
All that vampire ever did was teach Johnny the difference between Boone's Farm and Château Haut-Brion and
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Lori
This is a book written by Henry Bushkin. He was Johnny Carson's Lawyer for almost 20 years. Mr.Bushkin was more than just a lawyer. He was with Carson constantly, Playing tennis, traveling on vacations and many more chores than just his lawyer. he witnessed first hand what Johnny Carson was like in person. He was the lawyer for two of Carson's divorces and was hired to handle many other business deals for Carson. he gives an up close behind the doors description of Carson. Johnny could be a gene ...more
Roy
Interesting to read this during the handoff of Leno to Fallon; the ads playing while I read the book showed Carson, Leno and Fallon, suggesting generation-passing of the Carson legacy. The book is a fascinating read on a figure that dominated the 1960s and 1970s. It gives a better view of Carson as a person than anything I've read. It is, by necessity, a biography only of the 18 years that Bushkin was Carson's lawyer and confidant, but those are the critical years of Carson's career. There are s ...more
Mike Reuther
This revealing look into the life of Johnny Carson makes it clear that there was much more to this larger than life man than his television audience saw during the many years he was host of the popular Tonight Show. The author worked for 18 years as Carson's attorney, but makes it clear that his duties stretched much further than that of providing legal counsel. Serving as Carson's friend, tennis partner and confidante, he got to know the late comedian perhaps better than anyone. Bushkin shows t ...more
Richard Guion
This book has all the inside dirt and gossipy details a Tonight Show fan could ask for. Johnny Carson was one of the greatest TV personalities of all time - I watched the Tonight Show from the 1970s to Carson's final show on May 22, 1992. No one's come close to having his wit or style. As this book details, written by his lawyer of 18 years, Henry Bushkin - Carson wasn't a very happy man and died alone. He was a wild womanizer, probably an alcoholic, with a mean streak that could turn on a dime. ...more
Victor Carson
As a Carson who is unfortunately not related to Johnny, and as an adult who grew up watching Jack Parr and, then, Johnny Carson, I jumped at the chance to read an account of Johnny’s life from the real insider, “Bombastic” Henry Bushkin. I was not disappointed. Bushkin was Johnny’s lawyer, confidante, business manager, and “best friend”, according to Johnny himself, for over twenty years. Carson fired Bushkin and accused him of malpractice when the relationship ended, shortly after Johnny’s four ...more
Sunny Shore
A light little read about Johnny Carson that didn't satisfy. I had heard he was a rotten person and this really backed it up. Henry Bushkin was a money grubbing, fame seeking young lawyer when he met Carson and became part of his entourage. Carson pretty much said "jump" and Bushkin said "how high"? However, Bushkin says he loved the guy - they did have a falling out with money, etc. and eventually the friendship ended just like most relationships Carson had. Sad man, but haunted by demons of hi ...more
Julie
I guess that old adage about knowing your heroes holds true. I knew Johnny wasn't a peach but holy moly! Am just not sure this book really needed to be written. About 3/4 through I realized I was really repulsed by all of the main players: Johnny, his 3rd wife & his lawyer (the author). The lawyer excused his infidelity with a "That's what Johnny expected, so..." And the 3rd wife - she would receive expensive jewelry after a fight with Carson, wear them a few times, return them to the jewele ...more
Mark Mitchell
I don't often read books about Hollywood celebrities, but I am a real fan of Johnny Carson, so I thought I would give this one a try. Despite his numerous effort to state how much he liked Johnny this book was obviously Bushkin's attempt to get back at Johnny for his purported unceremonious firing. While there are some great glimpses at interactions between Johnny, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and the like, mostly it consists of dropping the names of a lot of Hollywood insiders, that no one but Holly ...more
Nancy L.
Carson indisputably was suave and commanding on the air and sad and isolated behind the scenes. His massive success of course came with a price. NBC's desire to continue making millions of dollars by keep Carson happy had a predictably corrosive effect on the entertainer, making him more difficult and demanding than can be imagined. Newly inaugurated president Ronald Reagan had to call him personally to apologize for the inferior seat Carson's third wife had at the pre-inaugural festivities. Ed ...more
Greg Messel
A fascinating insiders view of one of the legendary entertainers of his generation--Johnny Carson. There was no one bigger than Johnny Carson in the 60s, 70s and 80s. It's hard for younger people to comprehend what a fixture he was in the three network world, coming into everyone's house each night. People felt that he was practically a member of their family and he shunned the spotlight and was a very private person. His obsession for privacy came into real conflict with his public persona. Joh ...more
CD
"I needed peanut butter." One of the most memorable and poignant lines from this work stands out because it wraps up the relation ship of Johnny Carson with most all of the people in his personal life. Like any product that serves a purpose, and when used up, can be replaced with a trip to the story, Carson spread joy like any good pitchman and then there was the dark side that when one realized their allergy, they were dead to him.

Dismissive, involved and the victim of a dysfunctional parent,
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Ware
Good lawyers are great storytellers. That said, good lawyers are also entrusted with great secrets and to be perfectly strict about it, those secrets survive the death of the client. When a book starts off with a legally questionable breaking and entering to gather evidence of an affair by the second Mrs. Johnny Carson and the young lawyer is warned that he can "never" reveal what happened that night, I have to wonder what part of "never" didn't he understand.

I have no idea what secrets Henry Bu
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Dawn Lennon
Reading about Johnny Carson, a celebrity famous for making me and millions of others laugh, made me sad, disappointed, surprised, befuddled, and sometimes angry. I knew beforehand that Carson was a lonely man, given to outbursts and driven by perfectionism, excesses, and self-absorption. What I didn't realize was how needy he was, how inept a businessman, and how oblivious about the potential impacts of the decisions he did or didn't make.

This book is more a business book and partial memoir of H
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Christy Diegel
If you, like me, remember settling in the living room with your parents and your tall glass bottle of orange Crush (or whatever your soft drink of choice was in the 70s and 80s) to watch The Tonight Show and the beloved Johnny Carson, and you want to preserve the memory of what you have of Johnny, then DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. Granted, it is well written and you learn a lot about Johnny Carson. And I'm all for reading about the other sides of celebrities. But in the end, this book made me sad, and ...more
Chazzle
Obviously, being a fan of Carson is a major factor in my enjoyment of this book. It's very well written. But it has its ups and downs. The downs are fairly long passages about Carson's business dealings behind the scenes, but even these come with "punchlines", so it's worth "working" through these events for the reader.

Still, MANY passages in this book, I was compelled to read aloud to other people, they were so interesting.

I'm personally blessed with what my cousin calls "my sainted mother". C
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Joy
I would round this rating up to a 3.5 for the ease and enjoyment of reading such a dishy book. There had been advanced publicity for some of the revelations in this book, but I only read a good review of it in the NY Times. I thought it would be of interest to read while I was out of town, and I was right. Although I wasn't a huge fan of Johnny's, I did grow up with him and the Tonight Show,and he was an iconic part of my life. This book is written by Henry Bushkin, who became Carson's personal ...more
N.J.
This book is a glimpse that few ever got to see of a truly great, yet fairly ordinary, man. For all his funny antics and clever, brilliant delivery of lines, Johnny Carson was a shy, quiet, private man.

How fascinating it was to read about the man behind the very-public face! A great read that the reader will not care to put down for mundane events, such as dining, sleeping or cleaning the house!

Relish every word!
Mike Hylton
"Bombastic" Bushkin (If you get that you watched Carson a lot) tells us about as much as we will ever know about the mercurial and enigmatic Johnny Carson. Much name-dropping and network drama covering twenty years of one of the most successful television programs. What's not to like?
Carol
If you want to read a biography of Henry Bushkin, then by all means, read this book! There is not much in it that fans of Johnny Carson did not already know about HIM (except for some business dealings). We learn more than we ever wanted to know about Bushkin!

I wonder how Bushkin is able to write about the legalities between them when it is clear that the attorney-client privilege survives the death of the client. A lawyer should always maintain the confidences and secrets of the client even aft
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