>Henry Bushkin, Johnny Carson’s “legal advisor, fixer, and close friend,” has written a fascinating memoir of their 18 years together. Among the revelations:
The first job Bushkin did for his new client was helping him break into then-wife Joanne’s pied-à-terre when Carson suspected her of having an affair with NFL great Frank Gifford.
An admitted compulsive philanderer, Carson said he once had a contract taken out on his life for trying to seduce the girlfriend of a notorious mobster.
The late-night host was capable of enormous financial generosity: He sent a favorite restaurateur $100,000 when he had tax problems. Emotionally, however, he was withholding. When son Rick was committed to a Bellevue hospital psychiatric ward, Johnny didn’t visit, despite the boy’s request, because of a potential “media circus.”
When John Lennon was murdered, police discovered his killer had kept a hit list. Second on that list, after Lennon, was Carson.
Carson’s mother always let him know he was a disappointment to her. When she died in 1989 he did not attend her funeral. Still, as Truman Capote observed, seeking her approval “is what keeps him going.”
Asked what he’d like the epitaph on his grave to read, Carson’s immediate retort was, “I’ll be right back.”