Monday, May 22, 2017

This Week in Television History: May 2017 PART IV

As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history,
the more that fact and legend become intertwined.
It's hard to say where the truth really lies.

May 22, 1992
Johnny Carson's last Tonight Show. As his retirement approached, Johnny Carson tried to avoid too much sentimentality, but would periodically show clips of some of his favorite moments and revisit with some of his favorite guests.
However, no one was quite prepared for Carson's next-to-last night, where his final guests his guests were Robin Williams and Bette Midler

Midler found the emotional vein of the farewell. After the topic of their conversation turned to Johnny's favorite songs ("I'll Be Seeing You" and "Here's That Rainy Day"), Midler mentioned she knew a chorus of the latter. She began singing the song, and after the first line, Carson joined in and turned it into a touching impromptu duet. Midler finished her appearance when, from center stage, she slowly sang the pop standard "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)." 

This penultimate show was immediately recognized as a television classic, and Midler would win an Emmy Award for her role in it.

Carson did not have guests on his final episode of The Tonight Show. An estimated 50 million people watched this retrospective show, which ended with him sitting on a stool alone on the stage, curiously similar to Jack Paar's last show. He gave these final words of goodbye,
 “And so it has come to this: I, uh... am one of the lucky people in the world; I found something I always wanted to do and I have enjoyed every single minute of it. I want to thank the gentlemen who've shared this stage with me for thirty years. Mr. Ed McMahon, Mr. Doc Severinsen, and you people watching. I can only tell you that it has been an honor and a privilege to come into your homes all these years and entertain you. And I hope when I find something that I want to do and I think you would like and come back that you'll be as gracious in inviting me into your home as you have been. I bid you a very heartfelt good night”.
During his final speech, Carson told the audience that he hoped to return to television with another project and that hopefully "will meet with your approval". A few weeks after the final show aired, it was announced that NBC and Carson had struck a deal to develop a new series, but ultimately he chose never to return to television with another show of his own.

Johnny Carson died of complications from emphysema on January 23, 2005 at age 79.

May 25, 1992
Jay Leno's first Tonight Show

When Carson announced his retirement in 1992, Jay Leno succeeded him as host (Jay Leno, who became "permanent guest host" in 1987.), much to the outrage of David Letterman, host of Late Night, which ran after Tonight. The following year, Letterman accepted CBS's $42 million offer for his own show and launched the Late Show in 1993, running against Leno's time slot. Letterman beat Leno every week for the show's first year. 

May 27, 1972
Comedian George Carlin first listed in his monologue "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television". 

The words are shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. At the time, the words were considered highly inappropriate and unsuitable for broadcast on the public airwaves in the United States, whether radio or television. As such, they were avoided in scripted material, and bleep censored in the rare cases in which they were used; broadcast standards differ in different parts of the world, then and now, although most of the words on Carlin's original list remain taboo on American broadcast television as of 2012. The list was not an official enumeration of forbidden words, but rather was compiled by Carlin. Nonetheless, a radio broadcast featuring these words led to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that helped establish the extent to which the federal government could regulate speech on broadcast television and radio in the United States.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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