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Johnny Carson Dead at 79

Jan 23, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Revered late-night talk show host Johnny Carson died Sunday morning at the age of 79.

“He was surrounded by his family, whose loss will be immeasurable,” Mr. Carson’s nephew Jeff Sotzing told The Associated Press. Press reports indicated that Mr. Carson died of emphysema at his home in Malibu.

Mr. Carson, who hosted NBC’s “The Tonight Show” for 30 years, retired from the series in 1992.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Johnny Carson today. Johnny was a part of our NBC family for more than 30 years, long after his retirement in 1992, and he was a dear friend to both me and my wife, Suzanne,” said Bob Wright, vice chairman of General Electric and chairman and CEO of NBC Universal, in a statement. “As host of ‘The Tonight Show,’ his gift was the ability to make millions of Americans feel they too had a close friendship with Johnny.

“His professional and usually anonymous personal generosity launched the careers of countless stars and helped thousands of people. With his lightning-quick wit, effortless delivery and immense charm, he was without peer in late-night television. His death marks the passing of a show business legend and a man of warmth and sincerity. We offer our heartfelt condolences to Johnny’s family.”

Jay Leno, who took over hosting “Tonight” from Mr. Carson in 1992, also issued a statement: “No single individual has had as great an impact on television as Johnny. He was the gold standard. It’s hard to believe he’s actually gone. This is a tremendous loss for everyone who Johnny made laugh for so many years.”