Johnny Carson Biography: Age, Net Worth, Wives, Children, Parents, Siblings, Career, Movies, TV Series, Awards, Wikipedia, Death

May 29, 2024 0 Posted By Haruna Ayuba

Johnny Carson was primarily a television host, but his career spanned multiple areas of entertainment.

He is most famous for hosting The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for three decades (1962-1992), which established the standard format for late-night talk shows.

However, he was also a comedian, known for his wit and humor, and a writer, having written for himself and other comedians. Additionally, he produced his talk show and other television projects, showcasing his abilities as a producer.


  • Full Name: John William Carson
  • Stage Name: Johnny Carson
  • Born: October 23, 1925
  • Died: January 23, 2005 (age 79 years)
  • Birthplace: Corning, Iowa
  • Nationality: American
  • Occupation: American television host, comedian, writer, and producer
  • Height: 1.79 m
  • Parents: Ruth Hook Carson and Homer Lloyd Carson
  • Siblings: 2, Dick Carson and Catherine Carson
  • Spouses: Alexis Maas (m. 1987–2005), Joanna Holland (m. 1972–1985), Joanne Copeland (m. 1963–1972), and Jody Wolcott (m. 1949–1963)
  • Children: 3, Richard Carson, Cory Carson, and Christopher Carson
  • Relationship Status: Married
  • Net Worth: $300 million

Early Life and Education

John William Carson was born in Corning, Iowa, on October 23, 1925. He was raised in Norfolk, Nebraska, by his parents, Ruth Elizabeth (Hook) Carson (1901–1985) and Homer Lloyd “Kit” Carson (1899–1983), along with his two siblings, Dick Carson and Catherine Carson.

After graduating high school in 1943, Carson joined the U.S. Navy during World War II. Despite his military service, he continued to perform magic shows for his fellow servicemen, even entertaining the Secretary of the Navy at the time, James Forrestal.

After the war, Carson attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated in 1949 with a major in Radio and Speech and a minor in Physics. During his time at the university, he also participated in theater productions and worked for a local radio station, further honing his communication skills.


John William Carson had an early start in his career, moving from radio to television in the early 1950s. He landed a writing gig for The Red Skelton Hour, which helped to establish his name in the television industry.

Carson then went on to host various game shows and comedy shows throughout the decade, gaining more national exposure. This would eventually lead to his big break when he filled in for Skelton on his show, solidifying Carson as a rising star in the entertainment world.

Carson was best known for his role as the host of The Tonight Show from 1962 to 1992, taking over from Jack Paar. He is credited with defining the late-night talk show format, with his conversational style, celebrity interviews, and comedic monologues.

Carson also played a crucial role in launching the careers of many comedians through their appearances on his show. His popularity and success made him the undisputed king of late-night television for three decades, consistently topping the ratings. He retired in 1992, leaving a lasting impact on American television history.

Awards and Nominations

  • Wins:
  • Emmy Awards: Six Primetime Emmy Awards
  • 1980 Governor’s Award
  • Peabody Awards: 1985 Award
  • Other Awards:
    • 1992 Presidential Medal of Freedom
    • 1993 Kennedy Center Honor
  • Nominations:
  • Emmy Awards: Multiple nominations for Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Program (series) (including a win in 1992)
  • Other Awards:
    • People’s Choice Awards (multiple nominations for Favorite Talk Show Host)
    • Golden Globe Award (nomination for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy)
    • Photoplay Awards (multiple nominations for Favorite Variety Star)
    • TCA Lifetime Achievement Award (nomination)

Social Media

  • Instagram: @officialjohnnycarson

Personal Life

John William Carson married four times throughout his life, with each of his marriages having its share of turbulence. His first wife was Jody Wolcott (1949-1963), with whom he had three sons named Richard Carson, Cory Carson, and Christopher Carson.

However, their marriage was plagued with infidelity on both sides. His second marriage was to Joanne Copeland (1963-1972), and it was particularly contentious, resulting in a hefty settlement for Copeland.

Their relationship was also marred by cheating and public scrutiny. Carson’s third wife was Joanna Holland (1972-1983), but their marriage also ended in divorce due to infidelity. His fourth and final marriage was to Alexis Maas (1987-2005), which lasted until he died in 2005.

Despite the turbulent relationships and public scrutiny, Carson continued to be a beloved and influential figure in the entertainment industry.


  • Movies:
  • Kiss Me Stupid (1964) – Cameo appearance
  • Hello Dolly! (1969) – Cameo appearance
  • W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1975) – Himself (uncredited)
  • Television:
  • The Tonight Show (1962–1992) – Host
  • The Ed Sullivan Show (multiple appearances) – Guest
  • The Jack Paar Show (multiple appearances) – Guest
  • What’s My Line? (multiple appearances) – Guest panelist
  • I Love Lucy (1956) – Himself (uncredited)

Net Worth

Johnny Carson, the king of late-night television, had an estimated net worth of around $300 million at the time of his passing in 2005. His long and successful career, coupled with smart investments, contributed to his wealth.

However, his lavish spending habits and multiple divorces also played a role in reducing his fortune. Despite this, Carson’s legacy as a legendary comedian and talk show host will always be remembered.

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