February’s issue of Vanity Fair includes a new profile of late night legend Johnny Carson and gives particular focus to the Tonight Show host’s 1972 move from New York to Los Angeles. It’s a fascinating read about a man who Nora Ephron called “New York’s most reluctant celebrity” and paints a hopeful picture for the Tonight Show’s move back to its original New York City home. Here’s an excerpt from the piece:
“When he moved to L.A. he was very, very concerned that it was a creative mistake,” recalls David Steinberg, who began his long and successful career as a comedian on The Tonight Show in 1968, when it was still broadcast from New York. (Steinberg’s extraordinary rapport with Johnny would see him appear a staggering 130 times on the show, bested only by one of Carson’s idols, Bob Hope.) “California was a better decision for his life, but he was never sure that it was better for the show. The Tonight Show represented New York, the glamour and sophistication of Broadway as it was then. I think Johnny missed it. He was still excited by his stardom in New York,” explains Steinberg, who has brought his own comedic gifts as a television director to episodes of Seinfeld, Friends, and Mad About You, as well as the occasional Curb Your Enthusiasm.
The rest of the profile is full of anecdotes from those who knew Carson and an interesting look into the late night host’s reluctant relationship with his rising fame. Hopefully Jimmy Fallon can follow in Carson’s footsteps by one day getting a Black Russian thrown in his face by an insulted novelist.