American Masters: Season 26, Episode 5

Johnny Carson: King of Late Night (14 May 2012)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary | Biography | History
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 344 users  
Reviews: 8 user | 3 critic

Chronological look at the life and career of Johnny Carson (1925-2005), with commentary from an ex-wife and more than 30 fellow comedians, friends, employees, and biographers. The biography... See full summary »

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Episode credited cast:
...
Narrator
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Himself (archive footage)
Jack Bailey ...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Herself (archive footage)
Michael Barrie ...
Himself - Tonight Show Writer (as Mike Barrie)
Ginny Beauregard ...
Herself - Personal Assistant
...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Paul Block ...
Himself - Talent Coordinator
...
Himself
William F. Buckley ...
Himself (archive footage)
Vicki Budinger ...
Herself (archive footage) (as Miss Vicki)
...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself
Catherine Carson ...
Herself (archive footage) (as Katherine Carson)
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Storyline

Chronological look at the life and career of Johnny Carson (1925-2005), with commentary from an ex-wife and more than 30 fellow comedians, friends, employees, and biographers. The biography defines why Carson was an enduring star (his cool, his timing, his genuine laugh, his breadth of knowledge) and pursues his motivations and inner self (a loner with a drinking problem, a decent Midwesterner whose mother withheld approval, a quiet person who loved to entertain). The key to understanding him, argues the biography, is his love of magic. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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14 May 2012 (USA)  »

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Trivia

Johnny's yacht was named "Serengeti," which was prominently featured in the last fifteen minutes of the documentary, with many shots of him aboard the yacht, with the yacht name in several of the photographs. See more »

Connections

Features The Johnny Carson Show (1955) See more »

Soundtracks

One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)
(uncredited)
Written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer
Performed by Bette Midler
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User Reviews

 
I was surprised I liked this film so much.
8 January 2015 | by (US) – See all my reviews

While I grew up enjoying Johnny Carson, he wasn't somebody I felt driven to know more about. But this almost 2 hour documentary does a terrific job of dovetailing both the public and private sides of the man to give a portrait of a tremendous talent who could handle anything on his show with amazing spontaneous grace and humor, but had a much harder time dealing with people, love and family out in the real world. A complete extrovert on-stage, he was a true introvert away from the lights, struggling with drinking, anger and extra-martial affairs. Yet while the film doesn't flinch in looking at his sad and dark sides, it does so with compassion and never feels like a hit job. It balances these darker, sometimes very moving sections with great clips from "The Tonight Show" that remind one just how damn funny the guy could be, in spite of his troubled personal life.

For a film I wasn't sure I even wanted to see, it did an excellent job of hooking me in and riveting me in telling the story of a great entertainer who was far more complicated than I imagined.


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