(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – Though students may not remember seeing long-time host and comedian Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show,” many heard about him from parents and older relatives.
The comedian died last week at age 79 of emphysema in his Malibu, Calif., home.
“When I was little my parents watched him all the time,” said Abbi Look, Studio Supervisor of WTVP in Peoria, Illinois.
“I loved to watch him,” said Mignon Murray. “He was the greatest.”
Not the creator of late night television, Carson non-the-less reigned as king of the late night talk shows for over thirty years, entertaining millions of Americans, and helping to launch the careers of such names as Jerry Seinfeld, David Letterman and Jay Leno.
“Johnny Carson was the public face of American comedy for decades. So many of us who are working in show business today owe our careers to him,” said Bette Midler in a statement.
“He was the best … A night doesn’t go by that I don’t ask myself, ‘What would Johnny have done?'” David Letterman said in a statement.
Besides those in show business, Carson made an impact on the lives of ordinary Americans.
“As crazy as this sounds, from the time I was born until I was about five, I would wake up right when Johnny came on and stay up until it was over,” said Look.
“He was wonderful, I used to love to watch him,” said Murray.
“It is kind of sad that that part of my childhood, something my parents love to talk about and share with people, is gone,” said Look.
On January 31st, in his first “Late Night” show since Carson’s death, Letterman paid tribute to the comedic legend with his opening monologue. Over the last year, Carson has quietly been sending Letterman jokes for his show, many of which appeared in Monday nights monologue.
Carson left the air in 1992, handing off his position at “The Tonight Show” to now host Jay Leno.
More than 1,000 people reportedly showed up in Carson’s hometown, Norfolk, Nebraska, Jan 30th for a memorial to the comedic legend. According to the Associated Press, Carson specifically did not want a memorial in Los Angeles, however, members of his hometown community wanted a way to pay tribute to their star.