Johnny Carson

  1. Robert Ivers, GI Blues, 1959.        Welcome home Elvis! And here’s your reward for serving your country in the US Army – all  your  movies will suck from hereon!  Three years before ruling TV’s talk-show circuit, hereeeee’s, Johnny Carson was seen for E’s sidekick Cookie. As were: Carleton Carpenter, Frank Gorshin and Russ Tamblyn. Norman Taurog was mysteriously chosen to direct (over King Creole’s grittier Michael Curtiz!) and then helmed a further eight Presley horrors, each one more vomitus  then the precedent. Like The King of Rock ’n’ Roll in…  Live A Little, Love A Little and… Tickle Me.
  2. Dick Van Dyke, The Dick Van Dyke Show, TV, 1961-1966.         First episode was filmed on the day of JFK’s innagural: January 20, 1961. Another show was due before camera the day of his assassination, November 22, 1963 – the filming  went on minus an audience.  In 1962, Carson inherited Jack Paar’s NBC late show and rapidly became, one of the highest paid TV stars, winner of six Emmy awards and – across 29 years, 7 months, 21 days – the unquestioned King of Late Night TV.
  3. Gene Wilder, Blazing Saddles, 1973.       The Western send-up’s creator and star Mel Brooks tried hard to convince the top talk show host to play the drunken Waco Kid, who must have killed more men than Cecil B DeMille. Johnny  decided his job was chatting up   movie stars, not being one.    
  4. Klaus Kinski, Love & Money, 1980. The new New York auteur James Toback finally selected   Kinski for multi-billionaire  Frederic Stockheinz when he couldn’[t land  “my faviourite.”  Mr Late Show, himself.   Not even with  Ornella Muti  as his wife…
  5. Stu Nathan, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 1981.        The US high school movie…! Researched and written by Cameron Crowe, directed by Amy Heckerling. In Crowe’s book, the stoned surfer Jeff Spicilo dreams he’s on The Tonight Show. Not with me, said Carson. And the other talk-show hosts followed their master. Lile lemmings. Well, Letterman dallied awhile, until his agent warned him off any film featuring drugs. So Sean Penn’s Spicoli was interviewed by sports announcer Stu Nathan.    “Well, Stu I’ll tell you, surfing’s not a sport, it’s a way of life…  of looking at that wave and saying: Hey bud, let’s party!”
  6. Jerry Lewis,The King of Comedy, 1982.      Obvious casting for a talk-show icon. “A lotof people,” recalled director Martin Scorsese, “felt that Carson wasn’t right because the phenomenon of his talk show wasn’t well known outside America. [Pause]. Besides, Johnny wouldn’t do it.”Jerry would… “I’ll be co-operative. I’ll be whatever you want.” Scorsese still didn’t believe him. “But he was genuinely supportive and co-operative.”



 Usual occupation: TV SuperstarBirth year: 1925Death year: 2005Other name: Casting Calls:  6