Late-night icon Johnny Carson dead at 79

Jan 23, 2005 by Ian Evans

Late-night king Johnny Carson, who hosted NBC’s The Tonight Show for 30 years, has died of emphysema at the age of 79.

According to his nephew, Jeff Sotzing, Carson died surrounded by family, “whose loss will be immeasurable.

Carson, who gave a generation of comics career-boosting appearances on his talk show, still kept his hand in current affairs. It was revealed just this week that he would often send jokes to talk show host David Letterman, who lost a bitter battle to succeed Carson when Jay Leno was given the Tonight Show reins in 1992.

Carson’s TV sidekick, Ed McMahon, said in a statement, “Our 34 years of working together, plus the 12 years since then, created a friendship which was professional, family-like and one of respect and great admiration. When we ended our run on The Tonight Show and my professional life continued, whenever a big career decision needed to be made, I always got the OK from ‘the boss.’”