The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was a staple of its time. It was the most modern format of live television and is what we now know as the late-night talk show. But while the Johnny Carson Show was historical, is was also controversial. From his jokes to his personal life, Carson wasn’t perfect. This wouldn’t be much of a big deal now, but back then, Carson often made jokes at the expense of other celebrities. There were lots of rumors and controversies that never really “stuck” — until now. Some of Carson’s real-life interactions and disputes with people will surprise you, including his four failed marriages and the guest that Carson couldn’t stand!
While he is a beloved television icon, Johnny Carson was no saint. Carson is known to have treated those around him with disrespect or horrible cruelty. And you would assume that when someone gets married, they are happy and in love, right? Well, one of Carson’s nastiest displays comes from a time he publicly humiliated his new wife on their honeymoon.
In 1987, after Carson marrying Alexis Maas (his fourth wife), the honeymooning couple traveled to Italy for a yacht trip. Carson quickly fell into a foul mood and he took it out on his new wife. At one point, he told her in front of others, after some inconsequential remark he didn’t care for, “We’ve been married for three weeks. If you say something like that again, this marriage won’t last another three weeks.”
As we’ll see soon, Carson could be cruel to the point that many celebrities flat-out refused to appear on his show.