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1992: Johnny Carson Says Goodbye as 'Tonight Show' Host
May 22, 2012  | By Christy Slewinski
 
On this day in 1992, Johnny Carson made his final appearance as host of The Tonight Show, and bid his audience a very heartfelt good night.

Carson's final week was filled with memorable moments and featured appearances by Tony Bennett, Mel Brooks, Jack Lemmon, Richard Harris, Roseanne, Robin Williams and Bette Midler. But his very last show had no guests. Taped before an invitation-only audience, episode 4,531 was a retrospective that offered clips from Johnny's 30-year reign as the king of late night.

Among his final thoughts that day was this: "If I could magically, somehow, that tape you just saw, make it run backwards, I would like to do the whole thing over again. It's been a hell of a lot of fun. As an entertainer, it has been the great experience of my life, and I cannot imagine finding something in television after I leave tonight that would give me as much joy and pleasure, and such a sense of exhilaration, as this show has given me."

Of course, in true Carson fashion, he added: "I don't like saying goodbye. Farewells are a little awkward, and I really thought about this — no joke — wouldn't it be funny, instead of showing up tonight, putting on a rerun? NBC did not find that funny at all."

For more on Johnny Carson and his impact on television history, check out the recent PBS American Masters documentary, Johnny Carson: King of Late Night.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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