Joan RiversTalks About Johnny Carson's Dark Side

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Joan Rivers talks with Henry Bushkin, who was Johnny Carson’s lawyer, wingman, fixer, and confidant, about their experiences working with the King of Late Night. Bushkin is the author of  Johnny Carson.


Rivers and Bushkin talked about what they called Johnny Carson’s dark side, which the public doesn’t know about. They both had a falling out with Carson, and never heard from him again, but they both acknowledged how important he was to their careers. Rivers said, “I went on his show once and I was a star. If he anointed you, you were set for life. He had a great eye for talent.” She added: “When he laughed at something you said, you were never so happy in your life.”

Bushkin and she discussed how isolated Carson became, and how big a part of his life his show was. Bushkin said he didn’t take many breaks from “The Tonight Show” because “the lack of applause was like a lack of blood.” Rivers asked Bushkin if it’s impossible to have stars like Carson today. “I think so. I think in television it is,” Bushkin said. “It’s not possible to command the kind of audience that he did.” Rivers said she thinks Jimmy Fallon is the only current talk show host that comes close to Johnny Carson’s style.