John William "Johnny" Carson was an American television host and comedian, known for thirty years as host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (19621992). Carson received six Emmy Awards, the Governor's Award, and a 1985 Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987. Johnny Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1993.
Carson was born in Corning, Iowa, in 1925, to Homer Lloyd "Kit" Carson, a power company manager, and Ruth (Hook) Carson, who was of Irish descent. He grew up in the nearby towns of Avoca, Clarinda, and Red Oak in southwest Iowa before moving to Norfolk, Nebraska, at the age of eight. At the age of twelve, Carson found a book on magic at a friend's house and immediately purchased a mail-order magician's kit. He debuted as "The Great Carsoni" at fourteen and was paid $3; many other performances at local picnics and country fairs followed.
Despite his on-camera demeanor, Carson, who was very shy off-camera, avoided most large parties, and was referred to as "the most private public man who ever lived". Dick Cavett recalled that "I felt sorry for Johnny in that he was so socially uncomfortable. I've hardly ever met anybody who had as hard a time as he did." George Axelrod said of Carson: "Socially, he doesnt exist. The reason is that there are no television cameras in living rooms. If human beings had little red lights in the middle of their foreheads, Carson would be the greatest conversationalist on Earth."
Birthday: October 23, 1925
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