The Johnny Carson Show

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The Johnny Carson Show
Created byJerry Allen
Presented byJohnny Carson
Theme music composerJerome Kern (music) and Dorothy Fields (lyrics)
Opening theme"Pick Yourself Up"
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes39
Producer(s)Ben Brady
Production location(s)CBS Television City
Hollywood, California
Running time30 minutes
Original networkCBS
Picture format1.33 : 1 monochrome
Audio formatmonaural
Original releaseJune 30, 1955 –
March 29, 1956

The Johnny Carson Show is a 1955–56 half-hour prime time television variety show starring Johnny Carson.

While working as a staff writer on The Red Skelton Show, local Los Angeles television comedian Carson filled in as host when Skelton was injured during a show rehearsal.[1][2] As a result of Carson’s performance, CBS created the primetime variety program The Johnny Carson Show, a traditional potpourri of comedy, music, dance, skits and monologues. It aired on Thursday nights at 10pm ET.

The short-lived 1955-56 series served as a precursor of what would come later for Carson, planting the seeds for sketches he would perform on the later The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson such as "Mighty Carson Art Players".[3] However, the show flopped in the ratings and was quickly cancelled. This show was produced in Los Angeles at CBS Television City. The show was alternately sponsored by Revlon, and General Foods (Jell-O, instant Sanka, and Minute Rice).[4]

Carson with guest William Bendix in 1955.

In a 1978 profile of Carson in The New Yorker, Kenneth Tynan described the Johnny Carson Show as "a half-hour program that goes through seven directors, eight writers, and thirty-nine weeks of worsening health before expiring, in the spring of 1956." Carson wound up hosting a daytime game show called Who Do You Trust? (1957–62) until he was tapped by NBC to replace the departing Jack Paar as host of The Tonight Show in 1962, a position he would hold for 30 years.

Kinescopes of ten episodes from the series were discovered in a closet by Carson's second wife Joanne and released by Shout Factory on DVD in 2007. Joanne Carson says the kinescopes were hand-picked by Carson as a courtship gift to her and featured his favorite episodes from the series. Additional episodes survive at the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

Following the cancellation of the series, CBS assigned Carson to host another series, this time airing in a daytime time slot. This series also was titled The Johnny Carson Show and began in May 1956, but ran only through the summer. A single episode of this version is included on Shout Factory's DVD release of the 1955-56 series.


  1. ^ "Skelton Butts Scenery, Sprains Neck". Rome News-Tribune. August 18, 1954. p. 12. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  2. ^ "Johnny Carson-Professional Cutup". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. July 4, 1965. p. 23. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  3. ^ Fred Allen's Mighty Allen Art Players
  4. ^ The Best of Johnny Carson and Friends. Perfs. Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Mel Brooks, Ronald Reagan. DVD. Mill Creek Entertainment, 2009.

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Television show hosted by Johnny Carson
30 June 1955 – 29 March 1956
Succeeded by
Who Do You Trust?