In the illustrious world of late-night television, Johnny Carson reigned supreme for three decades as the beloved host of “The Tonight Show.” Known for his affable charm and easy rapport with guests, Carson’s throne, however, had its limits. Behind the scenes, Carson harbored intense dislikes towards certain recurring visitors. One such guest, who had been a staple on the show, finally crossed the line in 1982, leading to an unexpected and dramatic exit. Watch the video below:

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The Early Life of Johnny Carson: A Magical Beginning

Before Johnny Carson became the undisputed king of late-night TV, he was a young Midwestern boy fascinated by magic. Born in 1925 in Corning, Iowa, Carson discovered his passion for magic at the tender age of 12, ordering a magician’s kit from a mail-order catalog. His early interest in magic became a means to break out of his shy shell, providing Carson with the first taste of connecting with an audience.

Carson’s Rise to Stardom and Passion for Magic

After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Carson attended the University of Nebraska, graduating in 1949. Despite his coursework in journalism and broadcasting, Carson continued to cultivate his magic talents. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue comedy writing, eventually landing a job on the Red Skelton Show in the early 1950s.


Carson’s big break came in 1962 when NBC chose him to replace Jack Paar as the host of “The Tonight Show.” Bringing a fresh and lively sense of humor to late-night TV, Carson’s monologues and genuine interactions with guests made him a household name. Throughout his illustrious career, Carson never forgot his magician roots, incorporating magic into sketches and comedy bits.

Carson’s Turbulent Personal Life

Despite Carson’s on-screen success, his personal life was marked by turmoil, especially in his marriages. Married four times, Carson struggled to maintain lasting relationships. His marriages to Jod Walcott, Joanne Copeland, and Joanna Holland ended in divorces marked by explosive arguments and bitter legal battles.

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Carson’s fourth and final marriage to Alexis Moss, despite a significant age gap, proved to be his longest and most stable relationship. Moss remained Carson’s devoted companion until his death in 2005.

A Complicated Father-Son Relationship

While Carson found success in his professional life, his relationships with his three sons were often strained. Rick, his second-born son, struggled with alcoholism and mental health issues. Carson’s distant approach during Rick’s hardships shed light on a more complicated father-son dynamic.

The Enigmatic Persona: Public vs. Private

Beyond the spotlight, Carson’s private persona contrasted sharply with his affable on-screen character. Described as painfully awkward and shy in social situations, Carson struggled with small talk and preferred solitude. His contradiction between public and private personas fueled public curiosity about the real Johnny Carson.

Conflicts with Fellow Entertainers

Carson’s easygoing charm on “The Tonight Show” often masked complicated relationships and rivalries with fellow entertainers. One such relationship was with comedian Bob Hope, whom Carson found repetitive and dull. Another notable fallout was with Joan Rivers, who left “The Tonight Show” in 1986, leading to a deep sense of betrayal on Carson’s part.

The Guest Carson Couldn’t Stand: Charlie Callus

Despite his generally friendly demeanor with guests, Carson had his breaking point. Comedian Charlie Callus, known for his manic energy and physical comedy, became a frequent guest on “The Tonight Show.” However, Carson grew weary of Callus’ one-trick-pony approach and scripted gags. The breaking point came in 1982 when Callus’s lackluster routine and playful shove led Carson to ban him from the show.

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Unraveling the Mystery: Carson’s Opinions on Callus

Nearly 30 years passed before the infamous incident with Charlie Callus was re-examined. Despite Carson’s staff confirming the basic facts, tapes revealed that Carson did not outright ban Callus from the show. Callus continued to appear on “The Tonight Show” with guest hosts, but Carson’s grudge persisted, erasing Callus from Tonight Show history. In the end, the mystery of what soured Carson on Callus remains, leaving fans to ponder the complex relationships that existed beyond the laughter and applause of “The Tonight Show.”


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