It's a sad day for his family and for the country. All of us who came after are pretenders. We will not see the likes of him again. He gave me shot on his show and in doing so, gave me a career.
A night doesn't go by that I don't ask myself, 'What would have Johnny have done?' He has been greatly missed since his retirement. Thank God for videotapes and DVDs. In this regard, he will always be around. He was the best. A star and a gentleman.
The first time Siskel and I were invited to appear on the Tonight Show, the evening began badly. "We do not belong here," Gene told me in the dressing room, as we heard Doc Severnson and the orchestra playing the show's theme. "We are Midwest boys from Chicago and we belong in Chicago right now, this very moment, watching this show on television." . . .
Then the moment of truth arrived, we marched out onto the stage just as if we were real Tonight Show guests and not pathetic imposters, and you know what? It was okay, because Johnny made it okay. He projected an area of welcome and calm. There is no other way to describe it. We were not pinned like butterflies to a corkboard, being watched by millions, but simply sitting there on the couch talking to Johnny, who was talking to us as if it were the simplest thing in the world.
Carson's gifts were limitless. His skits and his characters, his slapstick and gags and funny hats and costumes, came from inexhaustible comic energy, but he never overplayed his hand. He was cool beyond cool. He made Sinatra seem to be trying too hard.
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