Today is Johnny Carson's birthday. Carson was born in 1925 in Corning, Iowa. He is best remembered as the host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He was one of the pioneers of the late night comedy show format, and still the most iconic of the late night hosts. During his heyday, he was one of the most watched people on television.
Carson got his start in radio, and then hosted the game show Who Do You Trust? He subbed for Jack Paar as host of The Tonight Show. It set the stage, quite literally, for Carson to take over for Paar as the full-time host in 1956.
New York Post
The show followed the formula that's now so familiar to us. Carson delivered an opening monologue, had some back and forth with Ed McMahon, acted in some comedy skits and then sat down for interviews with celebrities. The interviews are what Carson is most associated with. He was known as a starmaker, whose approval or disapproval could make or break a guest's shot at fame.
The New York Time obit for Carson describes it thus, “During his reign, Mr. Carson was the most powerful single performer on television. He discovered or promoted new talent like Barbra Streisand and David Letterman; provided a consistent spotlight for show business warhorses like Don Rickles and Buddy Hackett; advanced the careers of emerging stars like Woody Allen, Steve Martin and, of course, his successor, Jay Leno; and helped keep older performers like Jimmy Stewart and William Demarest in the public eye.”
Carson died at age 79, in 2005.