Nebraska Authors

Johnny Carson

AKA: John William Carson

Born 1926-10-23 Corning, IA (USA)

Died 2005-01-23
Los Angeles, CA (USA)

Los Angeles, CA (USA)

The legendary king of the late-night TV talk show, Johnny Carson, was born in Iowa and moved to Norfolk, NE with his family in the 1930s. Norfolk recognizes Carson as its 'most famous former resident' and has gone to great efforts to preserve his childhood home. Carson used his homespun, Mid-Western manner combined with a sophisticated wit and genuine hero worship in his interactions with big name stars on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Warmed by his charm, the icons of pop culture let their guard down, told stories, and made small talk with Carson. His program made viewers feel as if they were eavesdropping on private conversations. Stand-up comic Drew Carey said of Carson, "He seemed genuinely nice to everybody and interested in everybody, what they had to say... you never saw him be rude or flippant or just not care or shut down on a guest, so he was more the Nebraska-guy than anything that I saw on TV." Carson's legacy to his home state includes the work of the John W. Carson Foundation supporting children, education and health services, focusing on the Los Angeles area and Nebraska. His papers are held by the Library of Congress.

Places Lived

Norfolk, NE
Lincoln, NE
Omaha, NE
Avoca, IA
Los Angeles, CA
Hollywood, CA

Author Of

  • Nonfiction
  • Other


Humor; Memoir


Bachelor of Arts Degree, 1949, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE


Television Talk Show Host from 1962 until May 22, 1992

Places Worked

NBC's Tonight Show


“150 Notable Nebraskans”, Number 3 on the Journal Star Sesquicentennial List of Significant Nebraskans
Six Emmy Awards
Governor's Award
Peabody Award, 1985
Television Academy Hall of Fame, inducted in 1987.
Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1992
Kennedy Center Honor, 1993
Johnny Carson School of Theater and Film named in his honor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln


NBC's "The Tonight Show"


Happiness Is a Dry Martini. 1965.
Misery Is a Blind Date. 1967.

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Johnny Carson

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(e.g. Author is buried in Fremont, not in David City / Also wrote for the Daily Nebraskan during her time as a student)