How The Big Dog Made The Tonight Show What It is Today
The 65th anniversary of the Tonight Show on NBC unfortunately came and went without much notice. The show premiered on October 2, 1954 with comedian Steve Allen as the host. He was followed by a series of hosts including Ernie Kovacs, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno and now Jimmy Fallon. Carson held the position for 30 years from 1962 to 1992.
These great hosts have all have wonderful people behind the scenes that helped make them who they were and still are in some cases. Believe it or not, I was actually one of those people even though I played a very, very minor role in the show’s success when Jay Leno was the show’s host..
Several years ago, I was in Peoria and purchased a copy of the Sunday Peoria Journal Star newspaper. In one of the local back pages, I came across a small story about Peoria policemen arresting a guy for having crack cocaine in his underwear. The heading on the story said, “Police Find Crack in Man’s Underpants.”
I found myself laughing out loud when I read it and thought I should send this to the Tonight Show, which I did. Two weeks later, Jay Leno used it in his newspaper headline segment on the show. It got the biggest laugh of any of the other headlines he used that night. NBC even ran a Tonight Show promo using jay’s using ‘my” story sent to him.
I am still waiting for my thank you letter from NBC for submitting it. Since it has been over ten years ago, I guess I shouldn't hang by my mailbox waiting for it.
The Tonight Show has changed over the years and for my money, NBC will never find anyone as good as Johnny Carson was. Jimmy Fallon's not bad, but he is no Carson.