Johnny Carson, host of NBC's "The Tonight Show" for nearly 30 years, died Sunday, January 23, 2005 of emphysema. He was 79 years old.
Carson began his show business career as a teenage magician and ventriloquist before serving in the Navy during World War II. After the Navy, he attended the University of Nebraska, graduating in 1949 with a bachelor of arts degree.
Carson was host of the late-night talk show from October 1, 1962, to May 22, 1992, taking over from Jack Paar and handing off to Jay Leno after 4,531 episodes.
Born John William Carson on October 23, 1925, in Corning, Iowa, he is survived by his fourth wife, Alexis, and sons Christopher and Cory from his first marriage, to Joan "Jody" Wolcott. Another son, Richard, died in a car accident in 1991.
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