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Your Johnny Carson memories


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Johnny Carson: The life and legacy of an American icon.
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(CNN) -- Johnny Carson died Sunday of emphysema at 79. CNN.com asked people to share their memories of the king of late-night TV. Here is a selection of the e-mails:

I remember staying up late to watch "The Tonight Show," especially when there was some major event going on, like Watergate or the fall of Saigon. Mr. Carson provided us not only with thoughtful insight into current affairs, a chance to laugh at ourselves as a society and realize that we are all human, no matter what you did for a living. His guests allowed for the exploration of perspective that shaped our nation. My strongest memory of Johnny was his show following the loss of Challenger. He truly held us together through every up and down we faced. I only wish he had been there to help us through 9/11. Kate Metts, Atlanta, Georgia

I am originally from England and have lived in the USA for 26 years. I can remember when I first came here I didn't know too much about American sports and politics. I started watching "The Tonight Show" and I learned a lot about the United States. I thought Johnny Carson was a genius and I will never forget him, he was absolutely Brilliant! Jane Glazewski, Eatontown, New Jersey

I remember in particular during college that my roommate and I would always make time for the Carson monologue, even if we didn't have time for anything else. Kevin, Baltimore, Maryland

Our youngest daughter, now 20 years old, was always a night owl. She was under three years old but insisted on getting out of bed the minute she heard Johnny's theme song. We always tried to make sure the sound on the TV was down or she would be up watching. I will always remember even this little child loved Johnny. Verdeen Miller, Bismarck, North Dakota

My brother was a soldier in Vietnam so I would record "The Tonight Show" on an old time recorder and send the audio to him. Johnny Carson cheered him and other soldiers up on the other side of the world. I hardly missed a show in 30 years. Nancy, Springfield, Illinois

On December 30, 1972, my brother and I reached the NBC studios at 4 a.m. to stand in line for free tickets to that evening's taping. The line didn't start forming until 7 a.m. During his monologue, Carson asked the audience if we knew who was going to be the grand marshal of the Rose Bowl Parade. I yelled out "John Wayne" and he laughingly yelled back "No, not John Wayne" and the audience roared. I was able to fly back to Detroit the next day, and when the show aired that night, I was able to hear the brief repartee, a memory that will always be with me, however brief. Gary Dembs, Huntington Woods, Michigan

In addition to his absolute ownership of the late-night talk show format, Johnny also performed wonderfully as host of the Academy Awards on several occasions. I remember one broadcast, during the highly charged Vietnam War era, when Paddy Chayevsky, I believe, was vigorously berating Jane Fonda for "left-ish" comments she had just made from the Oscar podium that he considered inappropriate and unpatriotic. After Chayevsky finished, Johnny stepped back up to the microphone and, with the tension in the room starkly palpable, said something like, "War bonds are now on sale in the lobby" and the place just broke up. Masterful. Fred Mulen, Arlington, Massachusetts

My brother always had a cape on his back. He was either Superman or Batman every day. At the age of five he became "Karnac The Magnificent." "Heeeeere's Johnny" was his favorite thing and we watched it every night. Nathalie Thompson, Mount Vernon, Indiana

In the later stages of my pregnancy I was bedridden and I watched Johnny Carson every night. I would laugh and laugh. It was the only thing that kept me sane. Beth Hani, Tacoma, Washington

When I went off to college, I was placed in a temporary dorm room until the paperwork could be sorted out and I could move across campus to room with my friend from home. Those first few nights alone in a strange place were so terrifying, but the first night I was there, I got my TV hooked up, and Johnny Carson was just coming on. He was my dad's age (both born in 1925), and it was so comforting to see his familiar face and help me get over my homesickness. Kathy Dressler, Mesquite, Texas

The best memory I have of Johnny Carson is with the potato chip lady. She was an elderly woman that collected potato chips resembling people. She's so proud of her collection, Johnny is looking at her like she's crazy but also with a lot of kindness. He reaches down, crunches on a potato chip from behind his desk and the look of horror on the woman's face was priceless. Of course, Johnny let her in on the joke, although she didn't find it too funny. My mother and I laughed until tears rolled down our faces. We never looked at potato chips the same way again. Kassandra, Glen Burnie, Maryland

Working as a nurse in the late '70s thru the '80s, when I was on the second shift I always looked forward to watching Johnny when I got home. It made the stresses of the job forgotten and sleep came easier from laughing. Flo C., Avon, Connecticut

As a young mother I would time giving my baby daughters (four years apart) their last bottle for the night. I would just pick them up at 11:30 (they never woke up) just so I could watch Johnny Carson. He was a wonderful talent -- I also felt he was a good person with a great heart. I continued to watch "The Tonight Show" until the last. I watched his last show as many did, with tears. Diana Schaefer, Miami, Florida

I am a native of Venezuela who had the opportunity of living there and I have gotten my college education in the United States. I really enjoyed "The Tonight Show" during the years I lived there. Mr. Johnny Carson and his show was a total class act. He really allowed us to go to bed in complete peace of mind. Carlos Domingo Garcia Osorio, Maracay, Venezuela

Just remember watching the opening monologues as a kid and young man and it was a good way to end the day. Even when the gags fell flat Johnny made it into a joke. I also remember that he never took himself too seriously, and that was part of his charm. John Rummans, Falls Church, Virginia

My Dad was a police officer and as a child in the '60s and '70s my father would control the television, so every night before he would work his 12 p.m. to 8 a.m. shift, he would watch the news and Johnny Carson. It would drive me nuts because I thought Johnny was for adults. Within a couple of years I was hooked and would look forward to watching Johnny Carson with my Dad. Chari Powers, Omaha, Nebraska

Although I'm only 23 and at the time of his retirement I was 11, I still remember countless nights of waiting for my parents to go to bed so I could turn on the TV and watch Johnny. Late nights haven't been the same since. Nicholas Cozadd, Springfield, Illinois

I remember his last show the best ... A part of my life was ending. Johnny made me laugh until I peed my pants; kept me company at night when I was alone; and I could commiserate with him on the loss of his son. Julie, Lakeland, Minnesota

As a child, I remember watching his antics with animals. (As a treat, my parents would let me stay up on Fridays just to watch Johnny.) As I matured, I stayed up and watched "The Tonight Show" whether I was exhausted or not. I can remember laughing so hard, tears would pour down my face and my stomach would hurt! Kathy Lepore, Palm Harbor, Florida

Sneaking out of bed, tip-toeing down the stairs, crawling across the floor, hiding under the kitchen table, all to watch Johnny well past my bedtime. I learned early on to bring a towel with me, in order to muffle my laughter and avoid being sent back to bed. Janet, San Diego, California

1951 -- My girlfriend and I went to a tavern in Omaha, Nebraska, named the Cave. We sat down, ordered our beers and a little while later a real cute guy came and sat down beside me. Pretty soon we struck up a conversation and laughed and talked for hours. I asked him what he did and he said he was on radio and TV on the Omaha stations. So when I left, I said, what is your name? He said, "Johnny Carson," and gave me that Johnny Carson smile. Hard to forget. Rita Benedict, Sparta, Wisconsin

"The Tonight Show" was a constant source of relaxation for my father during the 30 years Johnny was on. It was the only TV program he would watch. The ironic part is that my father's livelihood was owning a television dealership in which he sold and serviced TVs, but he never watched any programs with the exception of Johnny's. Vickie Smith Diaz, Cumberland, Maryland

When my grandmother would visit us from Japan, she loved watching Johnny Carson's monologues every night and would laugh at all of his jokes -- even though she didn't understand a word of English. When I asked her why, she said, "Whatever he's saying, it seems really funny." Johnny Carson's sense of humor transcended language or culture. Daisuke Yoshida, New York

Johnny was there late at night when I was in high school, and I would get home late from playing in the high school basketball game. ... He was there late at night after I got home from Vietnam and made the nights a little more comfortable and helped me through those first few months back. ... He was there late at night while studying for final exams during the college years. ... He was there late at night while walking the floor with my firstborn. ... He was there coming home from a hectic day at the office ... making me laugh when the day had been horrible. ... He was a part of Americana. ... He is America ... mom, baseball, apple pie and Johnny Carson. ... So long Johnny. ... I'll miss ya ...but will always remember ya and I'll forever be grateful. Ronny Gearhart, Houston, Texas

From Guatemala City, I want to send my sympathies to Mr. Carson's family. I remember watching his show many times during the time I used to live in the U.S.A. May he rest in peace. Fernando Cardona, Guatemala City, Guatemala

Johnny was a late-night class act. It helped to close out those long winter nights with a laugh or two. We Canadian fans grieve your passing. Chris Gartner, Winnipeg, Manitoba

How can anyone sum up in a few words the impact this one icon had on all of us? I grew up watching Johnny Carson on my black-and-white TV, even at the age of 8 and 9. It was so much better than watching the news. He told the true stories you wanted to hear. Well, at least the funny side. At age 33 and having kids, I only wish we had someone kids could look up to who was as great as he. I send my dearest regrets and wish the family and friends the best. Don't hold your head down, as he was a great man and will never leave our hearts. Walter Bartholomew, Easton, Pennsylvania

I remember watching "The Tonight Show" in '65-'66 when Johnny had Barbra Streisand on TV. ... She wore a $20 dress but blew the audience away. He had a terrific eye for talent and the perfect venue for launching careers. There has been no one even close to him when it comes to introducing new talent. Hal Davis, Davenport, Iowa

We often tease my 14-year-old that she was born late at night -- but just in time -- so that I wouldn't miss "The Monologue." Did I push harder knowing it was almost time for Johnny? Hmmm. That's how much we all looked forward to Johnny Carson and his witty observations. Things must have gotten dull in heaven. I'm sure Johnny will fix that. Betty Meyer, Fredericksburg, Virginia

I had a near fatal tree cutting accident and was in ICU in Joplin, Missouri. I had been in ICU for almost two weeks, and the nurses rolled in a TV set late one night. Johnny Carson was on with the chimps. I laughed so hard that I cried. The nurses all thought I was crying because of my life-changing accident, and I never convinced them otherwise. I will never forget when Johnny Carson made an almost dying man laugh and feel better. Will miss you Johnny Carson. Jim Conner, Miami, Oklahoma

I am now 40. When I was 15, my father had a massive heart attack and was left brain-damaged. He is now 66, and has been in a nursing home for 24 years. It was you who made the difference in making him laugh. It was you who have helped me with my childhood memories of my dad. You were terrific, and you have been missed since 1992. Now you are with some of your buddies (Bob Hope, Jack Benny, George Burns, Jack Paar, Jack Webb, Dean Martin, and the list goes on). You were awesome, and you can never be duplicated. [To his wife] Alexis, our prayers are with you through this painful time. Mark Diamond, Newton, Massachusetts

Johnny was one of a kind, and the absolute king of late night. Once, in talking to someone in the audience, the person mentioned he had been on a tour of Hollywood homes. At that time Johnny was going through a divorce,and said, "Could you pick up my mail?" A natural wit and so quick. For 30 years, we all went to bed with "Here's Johnny!" Mary Bishop, Severna Park, Maryland

I was so sad to hear about the passing of Johnny Carson. For as long as I can remember I use to stay up and watch his late-night show until he retired in 1992. I vividly remember his last show and his farewell song from Bette Midler. He was a very classy gentleman and will be missed. God bless you, Mr. Carson. Scott Youngblood, Montgomery, Alabama

So many memories ... but I'll always remember what a treat it was when my folks would let my sisters and I stay up to watch Johnny on Friday nights or when he had a special guest on. As I watched a retrospective on "Dateline" last night, I found myself shedding the same tears as when my father passed away ... for different reasons, but the same emotions. We'll miss you Johnny. Doug Brown, Los Banos, California

I always remember being with my dad in '87 or '88 watching Robin Williams on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny. Robin Williams was on a tear and had Johnny crying with laughter as well as my dad and I. Johnny knew Robin was rolling and just let him go with it. It was great. Mike Schmitt, North Mankato, Minnesota

I can remember absolutely rolling on the floor in a fit of laughter watching certain episodes of the show. No kidding, laughing so hard it hurt. People say that a lot, but I mean unable to stand up or quit laughing. What a rare talent and such clean comedy. I was sorry when he retired, and now feel sorrow that he is passed. A truly great American. Jeff, Noble, Oklahoma

When I was 16, I went to California and waited in line to be in the audience of "The Tonight Show." I waited for six hours and got a seat in the front row. That evening we saw Tom Jones and my cousin was a close-up on the "Edge of Wetness." I remember Johnny being warm and funny -- and I remember that his right pant leg was tucked into his boot the entire show. I wondered why no one told him during the commercial. I saw myself on television in the reruns of that show when they panned the audience. It is a great memory. Kathryn, Minneapolis, Minnesota

I was born 1961. I remember watching Johnny from a dark hallway after my bedtime. My parents, sitting in the living room, never knew I was there. Michael, Tucson, Arizona

I loved when he lost it and just laughed and couldn't go on. Johnny and that cute little monkey, and his beautiful suits. He made my evenings. Lori Anderson, Des Plaines, Illinois

Laughter and intelligence. These are the things I will always remember when I think about Johnny Carson. He made people laugh, and he had an astonishing intelligence. Sky, Lubbock, Texas

One thing an uncle of mine pointed out years ago -- we were watching "The Tonight Show," and after having a joke bomb, the audience was still laughing -- he still got a great response. I wondered why, and my uncle told me that one of the reasons that Carson was so great was because of the way he could pull off even a horrible joke, by laughing at himself with humility and always good humor. Sean Hogan, York, Pennsylvania

Thanks for the memories Johnny. We love you and will miss you. I grew up sneaking out of bed to watch you, then my dad would join me. What more can I say? I'm a morning person now. Pat Anderson, De Forest, Wisconsin

The man had whipped cream sprayed down his pants, pies thrown in his face, and small animals piddling on his head with all of America watching and laughing hysterically. Yet, remarkably, he maintained an as-yet unsurpassed level of debonair and impeccable style. Even as I sobbed uncontrollably as [Bette] Midler bade Johnny adieu during her historic serenade, Johnny, who had every reason to crumble, merely smiled his warm smile and shed a single, heartfelt tear. That was all we needed to see to know where his heart was. Jennifer Moody, Muscatine, Iowa

I always loved it when Mr. Carson had Joan Embery from the San Diego Zoo on his show. I remember the one time when he bent down to say hi to a little lion cub and the cub roared and swung his paw at Johnny. Johnny took two steps and jumped into Ed McMahon's arms. I laughed until I cried at that. Michael Balaksi, St. Louis, Missouri

I remember Carnac with "Sis boom bah," the sound a sheep makes after you light a firecracker in its butt. I remember the Karl Malden ads with the pies in the face. The Carnival hacker trying to sell stuff during a commercial. The animals, the guests, the laughter. In a world where we are stressed more and more each day, Johnny relaxed that stress load just a little each night. Kevin Sullivan, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

I remember as a junior high and high school kid growing up in South Dakota watching the Johnny Carson show with my parents during the peak of the Nixon/Watergate years. Johnny was really at the top of his ball game during those years. However, the single thing I remember as a rural farm kid was that this icon of the entertainment industry grew up in the Midwest. It really inspired me that if a kid from Norfolk, Nebraska, can do what he did, just maybe I could achieve some dreams. He truly was an inspiring person and I will miss his wonderful delivery and his gentlemanly, humble, and self-deprecating way of laughing at himself despite his enormous stature in the American culture. There never will be a greater night-show entertainer. Monte Schatz, Omaha, Nebraska

I was a lifelong fan of "The Tonight Show" ever since I was allowed to stay up and watch the show. I drove cross-country in 1992 to be in the audience for the final show with guests (May 21, 1992). Johnny always had such style and class. He will be deeply missed. Delbert Sampson, Lakeland, Florida

I spend most of the '70s in the basement of my parents' home, working hard to get through college, and the only free time I had was those evening hours, watching Johnny Carson. He got me through my teens, high school and college. I feel like he was a second father and a friend, even though I never met him in real life. There was never a dull moment with Johnny Carson. Larry Woodgeard, Lawrenceville, Georgia

Growing up my father always stayed up to watch Johnny. My last year in high school on a Friday night I came in from a football game and started to go off to bed. My father asked if I wanted to sit and watch Johnny with him. It was at this point in my life I realized that our relationship was changing. From this point on, there were many Friday nights I stayed up with him to watch Johnny. After my father's death when I watched Johnny, I often reflected on my "rights of passage." Now I reflect on the laughs shared during those times, and I have a mixture of joy and also sorrow. For this time of sharing between a father and son, I give thanks to Johnny for being that vehicle. R.L. Johnson, Lewisville, Texas

My dad passed away when I was really young, and my mom would watch Johnny every night and then fall asleep on the couch. It wasn't till I was a little older that I found out what she saw in that man on the television. He was a great entertainer, and I too found myself watching him religiously. We will all miss him. Jeff Lewis, Perrysburg, Ohio

I rarely missed falling off to sleep with Johnny, but not one second before he finished his monologue. It took years changing those sleeping habits. May God rest his soul. Barry Gold, Irvine, California

Johnny Carson was like a member of my immediate family. I finished every day Monday-Friday from the '60s until he retired. My day was not complete unless I had my time with Johnny. While my husband was in Vietnam, I didn't cross the day off the calendar until after "The Tonight Show." When my kids were infants during the feedings, I'd be watching Johnny. I would tuck my kids and husband into bed and then go watch Johnny. I have never been so loyal to anybody on television. He was a class act. Nobody had his style or panache. I have missed him since he retired. I am truly sad that this person is no longer with us. He played a bigger part in my life than I realized. Gloria LaRoche, Coral Springs, Florida

My parents would watch Johnny Carson faithfully. Even though I was not allowed to watch, I would lie in bed and listen and laugh. He was part of my childhood and I will miss knowing he is here. Lois Lanier, Hillsborough, North Carolina

How many times I yawned in class (sixth grade through college) because I stayed up late to laugh with Johnny and his superstar guests. In between my '60s flower child leanings, Vietnam protests and pot smoking, Johnny was always "hip." He charmed us, provoked us, made us laugh and cry for 30 years. I was devastated when he quit, and no one will ever match his boyish naughtiness, his impeccable manners toward children and old ladies, and his wry, dry, nanosecond wit. Sheri, Stroud, Arizona

As the son of a pediatric neurosurgeon resident, hence waiting long and late hours for dad to come home, at the age of 18 months, my oldest son uttered his first phrase, "Here's Johnny!" We will never forget him. Johnny Carson had a heart of gold and the humor of a gentleman. J. Cohen, Beachwood, Ohio

So many millions of people will miss Johnny. What an honor to have touched so many and be missed by so many. And now I find myself remembering and laughing. Ric Leonard, Barnesville, Georgia

I remember when I was a little kid, I would be in bed asleep and my parents' laughing would wake me up. I would go see why they were laughing. They were watching Johnny. They would let me stay up and watch until I fell asleep on the couch. I was sad and shocked when I heard the news today about his passing. Christine Dunagan, Liverpool, New York

I began watching the Johnny Carson show when I was in junior high in the 1960s back home in Texas. It was through the influence of our speech class teacher, Mrs. Parra. She was always making references to his show so I decided to watch it one night and continued do so for the rest of my life. He was intelligent, humorous and reflected the issues of the era. I had great laughs and was sad when the show ended. F.M. Hancock, Oviedo, Florida

Whenever my mother wanted to reward me on a school night, she would allow me to stay up for Johnny Carson. We never called it "The Tonight Show," because it was the Johnny Carson show as far as we were concerned. He was a part of my childhood, retiring the year after I graduated high school, and I never watched the show again once he was gone. Good night, Johnny, wherever you are, and thanks for the laughs. Marby, Weston, Florida

He must have made me laugh a million times. Multiply that by the tens of millions who laughed a million times. What a legacy. Darla, Conroe, Texas

My favorite memories of the Johnny Carson "Tonight Show" was the night Dean Martin walked on unexpectedly, and of course the tomahawk episode with Mingo (Ed Ames). Margo Arnold, Rodney, Ontario, Canada

A friend and I stood in line in Burbank in 1977 to see "The Tonight Show." We waited 18 hours and finally got in. I'm so happy that I saw the show in person, and I would have waited 58 hours. I miss Johnny since he went off the air, and I miss him even more now. Rest in peace funny man, you made the world smile and laugh and we are forever grateful. This is a very sad day. Jeff, Kingston, New York

I was so sad when I went to CNN. It just is so hard to believe. I loved his show and him on it. He really touched my life with his humor, when my life was just "not that great" at that time. I found it so comforting to tune in to his show at night. I send my sympathy to his children. Kelly, Renton, Washington

Wow ... he was a great man. He, like Elvis, did more for people than he may have realized. Gene, Ronan, Montana

I remember in 1964, spending time at my dad's house, and while the adults played cards, I would watch "The Tonight Show," even though I was only 10 years old. I enjoyed the shows, and there will never be another Johnny Carson. Deborah, South Lake Tahoe, California

I am 50 now, and as a teenager I remember lying in bed at night watching Johnny Carson doing silly skits and having fun with his guests. I especially enjoyed it when he would have different comedians on. You could always tell how well he liked someone by his reactions. He was really great. Jeff Pennington, Atchison, Kansas

I always ended my evenings by watching Johnny's monologue. He was unparalleled in his ability to deliver a joke on the issues of the day. I had the opportunity to see "The Tonight Show" taped in December 1987. His guests were Tony Bennett, Bob Hope and Robin Williams, and it was the last show before the Christmas holidays. Johnny would banter with his guests and the audience during the commercial breaks. He also gave Doc Severinsen and the "Tonight Show" band their Christmas bonuses, which consisted of an envelope and a fifth of liquor. Johnny could make people laugh or cry without resorting to foul language and vulgar gestures like so many "entertainers" today. We will never see another in his class again. Michael Herp, Louisville, Kentucky

I always remember watching Johnny Carson with my parents. His show came on right after the news, and my parents would let me stay up to watch his monologue, and if there was someone I liked coming on, I could watch that also. I remember his farewell show very well. When Bette Midler sang for him, I wept right along with him. It is truly a sad day, and my thoughts are with his family. He was best of the best, truly gifted, and late night has never been the same since his retirement. With deep sorrow. Mychele Ohre, Scottsdale, Arizona

It's really a shame to hear about Johnny Carson. I used to watch his show almost every night. Even though it was a school night, he would always keep me laughing and wanting to watch more. He truly was an all-American legend, and he will be missed. Amy, Madison, Wisconsin

Johnny Carson was the first late-night host I saw on TV when I immigrated to the U.S. 20 years ago. Thank you for the laughter and the memories of great comedy. Mary Jo Silva, Coventry, Rhode Island

Johnny was a TV icon. He was watched and loved by millions. His quick wit and comedy will be sorely missed. I wish I had the opportunity to see him in person. My heart goes out to his family. Jeff, Lawton, Oklahoma

Just to let you know what kind of sway Johnny held: In the '80s, my grandmother was ill, and I was caring for her. When I entered her "closet room," I noted hundreds of rolls of toilet paper. I asked her why she had so much, and she replied, "Johnny said there is going to be a shortage." Goodbye, Johnny. Betsy Emery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I remember watching "The Tonight Show" with my father, who has since passed. I have always and will continue to be a fan of Mr. Carson for all the wonderful memories I shared with my father. Thank you and God bless his family and all who knew and loved him. Gaylon Jones, Tacoma, Washington

I cannot remember her name, but the lady from the San Diego Zoo. I always thought that those were his funniest episodes. America, you have lost a true idol of what your country stands for. God rest your soul, Mr. Carson. Tonight, you will be in my prayers. Rest in peace, Johnny. John, Calgary, Alberta

I watched Johnny Carson every night during my high school years. My parents blamed him for my "less-than-stellar" grades. I credit him for giving me hope that I might be the next Joan Rivers. Esta Berman-Price, Stamford, Connecticut

I married my wife the day after Carson's final show. Needless to say that the entire wedding party spent the day before (Friday) celebrating at a local hotel. However at 11:35 everyone got together to watch the "final" Carson. We probably celebrated that as much as my upcoming wedding. Whenever people ask me how long I've been married, I tell them, "As long as Johnny Carson has been off the air." Neil Armstrong, Mooresville, North Carolina

I come from a family of night owls. In my early teens, I remember sitting up one night watching Johnny. One of the jokes in his monologue had to do with an alleged toilet paper shortage. It was just supposed to be a joke, but it seems that most of America (including my mother) took him seriously, which caused an actual nationwide toilet paper shortage for a day or two. Being a Mormon family, mom decided that along with our year's supply of food storage, we should also start keeping a year's supply of toilet paper. Johnny Carson was one of the last clean, classy, and truly talented entertainers on TV. He will be greatly missed. V. Robison, Waco, Texas

Not only did I stay up and watch "The Tonight Show," my 90-year-old grandmother watched Johnny Carson. She loved his show and would quiz you about the previous night's show. Tom, Warren, Michigan

My father has always worked extremely hard, and as a little girl I remember the rare times when my father was able to sit in front of the television and relax. When he was able to find time like that, he always waited for Johnny Carson. A memory that still makes me laugh to this day is a show in which Mr. Carson's guest was a man from a zoo who had brought in various animals. At one point in the show, he brought in some type of large beetle. Mr. Carson was disturbed by the size of the bug and happily moved on to the next animal. Well, as he was focusing on another animal, there was a very loud buzzing sound, and to everyone's horror this large beetle took flight and landed on his head! He jumped out of his chair and loudly asked the presenter, "Why didn't you tell me this thing could fly?" to which the presenter responded while desperately attempting to retrieve the insect, "I didn't know!" Mr. Carson, quite shocked but still very good-naturedly, yelled, "Well, what the hell else don't you know about it?" The audience went wild, and by this point my father was in absolute tears, just laughing louder than I had ever seen him laugh. My father respected and loved Mr. Carson. What a loss for our world. Lorraine Chavarria, Austin, Texas

His jokes were fresh, witty and downright funny. He was one of a kind. George Grech, Gozo, Malta

As a little boy I remember waking up in the middle of the night and would come downstairs to see my mom and dad. They would be watching Johnny, and I learned to enjoy him at a very young age. Don Hoolihan, Basking Ridge, New Jersey

In 1962, I had the pleasure of seeing Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon broadcast their game show, "Who Do You Trust?" in its last week on ABC. It was going off the air, as Johnny Carson, after a brief hiatus, was going to become the new host of "The Tonight Show." What I remember most about that broadcast (which was live, unlike a lot of other shows at the time), was how much fun Johnny Carson made it. He put a lot of effort into the show, and was very funny and entertaining, even during the commercial breaks, which were not broadcast. I realize now as an adult, that he could have easily coasted through the show, since his future was pretty much assured as he was going from a daytime game show to follow Jack Paar on a major network show. He did not do this, but went out of his way to please the studio and home audiences. I think his giving it his all is why audiences connected with him and stayed with him throughout his career. While all of us will remember and appreciate Johnny Carson from his "Tonight Show" days, I will also remember him for putting on one heck of a show before he was famous. Fred Phillips, Jacksonville, Florida

We as a world were blessed with a man who had a fabulous sense of humor. My memory of Johnny Carson goes as far back as a child, as he always frequented our living room TV (back when TV was black and white). Johnny made me laugh, even in my elementary years as a child. I always loved when he had live animals for guests. His humor now will keep the angels in heaven laughing. Corrine Beckwith, Roanoke, Virginia

I went to a "Tonight Show" taping in the early '80s; one of Johnny's guests was Carl Reiner. The banter between two giants was so genuine, and so fun to be a part of as an audience member, that the only other thing that surpassed this feeling was the absolute professionalism of the show -- his personality will never be matched. His was the day of personal banter and just about anything goes. Carson was like your somewhat unpredictable, but lovable neighbor who'd show up at your doorstep at 11:30 each weekday night. A great loss for the neighborhood. Clay Leonard, Dacula, Georgia

I'm 44 years old, and I can remember begging my mom and dad to stay up late on school nights as far back as 1968 when I was only 8 years old so I could watch the "Johnny Carson" show. You see, to me it was not "The Tonight Show," it was Johnny's show. I don't know if anyone else feels this way, but I thought of him as an extended part of my family, like a really funny and nice uncle that happened to be on TV. John Daugherty, Indianapolis, Indiana

Johnny's comedy helped me and my family through a long period of childhood illness. He was the first entertainer I idolized. He taught me the value of laughter. He was, without a doubt, the best of the late-night talk-show hosts. Paul Wilson, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


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