Sunday, January 23, 2005

Johnny Carson

I heard on the radio a short while ago that he died. He was my father's generation, my father's age, my father having turned 79 last week. It's always hard when one of that generation goes, as it reminds me of my father's mortality.

My father met Johnny a couple of times back in the '60s while Johnny was still doing the Tonight Show in NYC. My father worked in the carpet/tile business and once he had to go uninstall the wall-to-wall carpet in Johnny's apartment to bring it for cleaning, then return to reinstall it. He asked Johnny to give him autographs for me and my sister and Johnny graciously signed a couple of postcards of himself for us. I still have mine.

My parents' bedroom was directly across the hall from mine and I would sit on the floor by my door, which I had open a crack, every night and listen to the Tonight Show which my parents had on and watched from bed. For many years, I heard the show instead of seeing it. Years later, when I watched reruns, I couldn't understand why I knew the jokes when the show was unfamiliar, then recalled those were the ones I'd heard only.

Johnny and late-night TV were made for each other and TV got a bit duller once he retired. RIP, Johnny. You earned it.