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 272 users  
Reviews: 7 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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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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Jeff Sotzing was credited on screen in two different ways, first as "Himself - Producer, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," and second as "Nephew." See more »

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Features Red Skelton Revue (1954) See more »

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

 
Maybe it's just me, but this episode made me feel rather sad.
20 May 2012 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This episode of "American Masters" was well made--I have no complaints about this in any way. In fact, it was EXCEPTIONALLY well made and because of this it depressed me. This is because with a 'warts and all' biography, you get more than just effusive praise--you get the good AND the bad. So, while you learn about all of Johnny Carson's many on-screen successes and accolades, you also hear about what an absolutely screwed up guy he was as well. Because of this, instead of focusing on his triumphs (and this made up most of the show), I kept getting bogged down with his failings. He had a difficult mother--one who had a very hard time praising Johnny or connecting with him. In turn, he had a horrible time connecting with his own children--and seemed to be very distant. He also struggled with alcoholism (or at least a serious drinking problem) and his very public divorces. And, while there was lots of praise for him as a performer, it was sad that no one interviewed for the show ever felt close to him. It's an odd contradiction--with such a public figure having such an incredibly private life--and often, he was alone.

If you want to feel happy, don't watch this. However, if you hate biographies that gloss over problems and only paint a rosy picture (a very common problem), then this is for you. You learn a lot about the man and I can really respect the job the "American Masters" folks did with this one. Very good and the definitive biography on the man.


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