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Johnny Carson Hardcover – 15 Oct 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Printing edition (15 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0544217624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544217621
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 629,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John M. Ford TOP 500 REVIEWER on 31 Mar 2014
Format: Hardcover
Henry Bushkin was Johnny Carson's lawyer, friend, business partner, and the inspiration for the "Bombastic Bushkin" character in Carson's monologues. He was a golf swing away from Carson through the Tonight Show's rise to network television dominance and the breakup of two of the star's marriages. His book contains "secrets that could not be revealed until after Carson's death," although they consist mostly of Bushkin's side of various business disputes with his former employer.

I picked up this book for the Carson anecdotes and there are plenty. My favorites include:

* Carson catches a longtime employee stealing cash from his dressing room. The employee is told he can keep his job if he promises never to do it again. And Carson gives him a $400 a week raise because he "obviously isn't making enough."
* Carson's sensitivity and personal attention when Henry's father died.
* Carson sending $100K to a New York restaurant\owner when his business was in trouble "for all of those free dinners."
* Carson, his fiancé, and her lawyer are all ready to sign a prenuptial agreement just before his third wedding. At the last minute Carson suddenly decides that it is unnecessary. At the divorce he pays out $35 million.

Bushkin shares some insights. Johnny Carson had a lifelong drive to please his mother with his success. She was cold, disapproving, and punishing. Carson could be very generous, but always on his own terms. He rarely gave when asked, especially of his time. He frequently used a concern about his fame causing the media to invade the privacy of others as an excuse to keep them at a distance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Nov 2013
Format: Hardcover
Let's start with a multiple-choice question.

According to Henry Bushkin, Johnny Carson (1925-2005) could be

(a) Irresistibly charming
(b) Distant and unapproachable
(c) Cunning and prudent
(d) Impulsive and extravagant
(e) In public, supremely self-confident
(f) In private, insecure and guilt-ridden
(g) All of the above

What we have in this volume is Bushkin's account of his longtime association with Carson as his attorney, confidante, consigliore, messenger, scapegoat, errand boy, and friend. This is a memoir of his relationship with Carson rather than a definitive biography of him.

Three insights were of greatest interest to me. First, Carson tried without any success until Ruth Carson's death to receive any indication from her that she loved him, was proud of him, and was grateful for an endless series of lavish gifts to her and his father, Homer ("Kit") Carson. He insisted (and Bushkin agrees) that his mother and her attitude prevented him from ever sustaining a healthy relationship with anyone, including four wives, three sons, a brother and a sister as well as several dozen other beautiful women and countless business colleagues, including Ed McMahon. Even Bushkin never really felt close to Carson, however much he wished to be.

Second, Carson had a very strong sense of entitlement and was well aware of the nature and extent of his power within the business world. Apparently no one intimidated him; on the contrary, with rare exception, most of those with whom he was associated went to great lengths to curry his favor.

Finally, for 30 years, Carson maintained an exceptionally high-level of program quality on The Tonight Show, later renamed The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
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Format: Hardcover
Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin presents Johnny in all his brilliance and genius and inversely all his anger and pettiness. Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show from 1962 to 1992. During the 1970s and 1980s he was the country’s highest-paid entertainer in the world. He was notorious for running around with the ladies and blowing through three marriages. But even with all this he was charming and hilarious onstage and many times off-stage. This book is written by Henry Bushkin who was Carson’s longtime lawyer and best friend. This book gives you an amazing intimate look at one of television's pioneers. I loved this book and I would definitely recommend it to others.

Thank you for reading my review.
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Format: Hardcover
In no way shape or form can this book be considered a biography of Johnny Carson. Maybe, loosely it can be called a `memoir' of Henry Bushkin since it is a chronicle of business deals, legal wrangling, contract disputes, and divorce settlements as negotiated by Bushkin during the time he was Carson's attorney.

There is little insight into the man Johnny Carson, which the public would not already know. That he was mercurial and prone to being peevish and temperamental is common knowledge to anyone who has the slightest inkling about Carson.

The book drones on and on becoming boring if you don't have a special interest in the business dealings of Carson and nifty show-business legal maneuvers. Rehashing of deals Bushkin put in place on behalf of Carson is not a realistic premise on which to base a biography Carson.

I would even call into question some of the `quoted' exchanges between Carson and Bushkin as well as some of the anecdotes presented, not only because they simply sound false, but the fact that they happened in the 1980's and this book is published in 2013.

Like or dislike Johnny Carson as a human being (husband/father/friend) the man was simply a genius at what he did and no one before or since has even come close.

In the end Bushkin says that he thinks Carson would have been happy with this book. (Pg. 279). Without knowing Johnny Carson personally I feel that is as far from the truth as one could get. Considering the man Bushkin takes pains to portray in the previous 278 pages it is no surprise that (a) what Bushkin did would have been perceived by Carson as a betrayal and (b) that Bushkin was fired on the spot and in the manner in which it was done.

Mr. Bushkin has used the name of "Johnny Carson" as a title to sell a book about himself. This book could easily have been entitled "My Splendid Life as Attorney to Johnny Carson, Until it Ended." "A Memoir of Henry Bushkin."
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