57 Wild And Wonderful Late-Night Talk Show Moments
Written by Terry Claypoole
Late night talk shows are a wellspring of salacious discussions and witty banter. This is especially true when the show books a controversial or cutting-edge guest to appear on the show. These rule-breaking loose cannons provide for some of the most entertaining moments in television history, as this collection of photos reminds us.
Remember When Madonna Made Johnny Carson Blush Because of Her Late Night Flirting?
When Johnny Carson hosted Madonna on The Tonight Show on June 9, 1987, he probably assumed he would simply be interviewing the rising pop singer, but Madonna had other plans. The sexy singer flirted shamelessly with Carson until it was obvious to television viewers that the late night host was totally smitten with the Bay City, Michigan, native. Just a few weeks after her inaugural Tonight Show appearance, Madonna embarked on a world tour to promote her “Who’s That Girl” album. Later that year, the “Like a Virgin” singer sought an annulment of her marriage to actor Sean Penn. The split was not because of her flirtation with Johnny Carson, but due to irreconcilable differences.
Leading Sex Symbol Raquel Welch Showed She Was as Fierce as She was Sexy on the Dick Cavett Show in 1972
Dick Cavett had a reputation for being rather straight-laced and uptight yet he enjoyed having sexy actress Raquel Welsh on his show. Although most people remember the icon images of Welsh wearing a doe-skin bikini as a cave woman in the British film, “One Million Years, BC,” Welsh was known for playing strong female characters who were as sexy as they were fierce. This was in stark contrast to most the female roles of the sixties and seventies that cast beautiful women in sex goddess/damsel in distress roles.
Janis Joplin In full "Pearl" mode on The Dick Cavett Show
Rocker Janis Joplin made several guest appearances on The Dick Cavett Show, including one just a few months before her tragic and untimely death in 1970. Nicknamed Pearl, Joplin introduced the world to a unique sound, a mix of rock, blues, and soul music. After her death, a posthumous album of her recordings was released, titled “Pearl”. On this album, fans could hear “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Cry Baby,” and “Mercedes Benz.”
Johnny Carson Seemed Surprised When Actress Adrienne Barbeau Used the Phrase "My Multiple Lovers"
When actress Adrienne Barbeau joined Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, it was December 12, 1974, a few weeks before Christmas. Carson naturally asked the co-star of television’s Maud about giving and receiving Christmas gifts. Barbeau confessed that her multiple lovers always gifted her with odd presents…a fire extinguisher, a set of encyclopedias, and car repair items. Carson ignored the strange gift items and instead, questioned the sultry brunette about her multiple lovers, coyly prefacing his questions with, “It’s none of my business but…”. To her credit, Barbeau was equally coy and discreet, refusing to name names.
Singer Donna Summer Encouraged Girls to be Mechanics with Johnny Carson on November 28, 1979
Donna Summers appearance on The Tonight Show was the milestone she needed to feel like she made it as a star. During her appearance, she stammered to not offend host Johnny Carson when she talked about watching his show as a little girl. At one point, Carson referenced the fact that Summers is mechanically inclined and can fix cars and such. Carson made the sexist comment that girls are not mechanically inclined so it was unique that Summers is. Summers used that moment to encourage other girls to follow non-traditional paths.
Twister With Zsa Zsa Gabor
Johnny Carson and his guest, Zsa Zsa Gabor, spent an entire segment of the May 3, 1966, Tonight Show playing board games. In fact, Carson and Gabor are often credited with saving the life of the Milton-Bradley game, Twister. Twister was released earlier that year, but sales were lackluster. When the public saw Carson and Gabor playing the coyly provocative game together, however, they clamored for Twister. Sales of Twister surpassed 3 million units in the months that followed The Tonight Show. The game has since become a part of the American pop culture.
Doris Day Joined Johnny Carson in 1974 to Talk About Her TV Sitcom
Among the lasting legacies of singer and actress Doris Day is that she helped to establish the ‘bedroom comedy’ movie genre. She appeared in films alongside such leading men of the day as David Niven, Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, James Garner, Clark Gable, and Rod Taylor. She even had her own sitcom on television called The Doris Day Show that aired from 1968 to 1973. Prior to her successful acting career, Day was a top selling singer with a string of hits from throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
Joan Rivers Admires Elvira's Cleavage on The Tonight Show
Joan Rivers told Elvira, Mistress of the Dark that she admired her cleavage. In fact, the talk show host discussed Elvira's breasts for several minutes when the horror personality Elvira, portrayed by actress Cassandra Peterson, appeared on Joan Rivers’ last night talk show. Even though she was a woman, Rivers continued the sexual innuendos that Johnny Carson had established before her. The Halloween night appearance took place in 1985. Peterson built a career out of playing the original goth girl, a sexy vampire-meets-Morticia character that appeared in TV shows, film, comic books, and live performances throughout the 1980s.
Ann Margret Tells Johnny Carson About Leaving Behind Sex Kitten Roles
Johnny Carson talked to actress Ann Margret about being typecast as a sex kitten instead of being seen as a serious actress. She appeared on The Tonight Show with Carson on February 29, 1972, the same week that she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Jack Nicholson’s overly loving girlfriend in the film, Carnal Knowledge. Prior to his film, the Swedish-born actress has only appeared as a sex kitten character in B movies, but this film help viewers to see her true acting ability.
Susan Anton Got Her Big Break Singing in a Cigar Commercial
It is weird to think that Susan Anton got her big break from appearing in a cigars commercial. Because cigarette and cigar advertising has been banned for so long, we tend to forget that they were ever a thing. Yet the tall, leggy blonde with the All-American good looks caught the attention of directors after she sand in the Muriel Cigar ads. She went on to have several movie and TV roles and was a favorite on talk shows. She appeared on the Merv Griffith Show more than thirty times and was interviewed by many hosts, including guest host David Brenner.
Carol Wayne Was a Regular on The Tonight Show as the Ditzy Matinee Lady
Busty blonde Carol Wayne had a regularly occurring role as the Matinee Lady on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. In fact, she appeared in more than 100 episodes as the popular ditzy character in comic sketches that featured sexual innuendos. Wayne’s recurring role was cut, however, when The Tonight Show went from 90 minutes to 60 minutes. Being released from the talk show sent Wayne into a downward spiral. She became addicted to drugs and alcohol and experienced such bad financial difficulties that she reportedly had to work as an escort.
Jay Leno and Whitney Houston Share a Late Night Laugh
When singer Whitney Houston appeared on late night talk show with Jay Leno she had just broke the record for the most number one hits, surpassing the Beatles. Leno congratulated the R&B singer on her accomplishment and asked her about the recent purchase of a ‘very large house’ in New York. Houston entertained the live audience and television audience with a performance of “I’m Your Baby Tonight”, as well as a Christmas song.
Carol Wayne Was Often the Butt of Carson's Sexual Jokes
Johnny Carson’s skits with Carol Wayne were humorous but filled with middle school humor, sexual innuendo, and provocative double meanings, mostly on the part of Carson. The sexy, yet naïve-looking Wayne was the continuous butt of his jokes and object of his dirty-minded comments. Carson’s raunchy brand of humor appealed to late night audiences of the seventies but many of his comments would be perceived differently in today’s MeToo culture.
Merv Griffin Even Interviewed Superheros on His Talk Show
When Yvonne Craig appeared on The Merv Griffith Show, she did so in full Batgirl costume. She didn’t break character during her appearance. The actress and dancer, known for her portrayal of Batgirl on television, used her superhero persona to advocate for women’s rights, particularly equal pay. She was a symbol of female empowerment in the 1960s and 1970s, a role that Craig took seriously.
Judy Landers Confessed Her Former Crush on Johnny Carson in 1979
When breathy blonde actress Judy Landers appeared on the Tonight Show in 1979, she confessed to Johnny Carson that her appearance on the show was a dream-come-true because she once had a crush on Carson. Carson was quick to respond, “When did the crush leave you?” Landers was questioned about her ability to drive a semi truck like her character in the television series, BJ and the Bear and she assured Carson that she knew how to drive a big rig. Carson seemed rather skeptical of her claim, but that was probably because Landers made a career out of playing the dumb blonde roles.
Raquel Welch Appeared on The Dick Cavett Show, Sadly Without Her Iconic Bikini
Although she dressed somewhat modestly for her appearance on The Dick Cavett Show, Raquel Welch’s deer hide bikini still photos taken to promote her film One Million BC launched her as one of the leading sex symbols of the 1960s. In fact, the promotional poster for the film, showing only Welch in her bikini became an instant pin-up classic. In fact, Time magazine did an article on bikini culture in 2011 and listed Welch’s One Million BC bikini pic as one of the most iconic bikini moments in the history of the provocative, two-piece swimsuit.
In 1983, a Young Diane Lane Gave Johnny Carson All the Juicy Details About Her 18th Birthday Celebration
Diane Lane was very young and naïve…only 18 years old…when she appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to promote her upcoming film, Rumblefish. From the moment she stepped on to the set, she appeared uneasy and awkward, even kissing the other guest on the cheek but not kissing Carson. When he called her out on it, she innocently said that the other guest was very handsome…an inadvertent insult to Carson. Carson pressed the star of The Outsiders to give details about how she celebrated her recent 18th birthday to which Lane answered that she spend the evening catching up on her laundry. Not quite the young Hollywood wild child Carson expected her to be!
Blonde and Bubbly, Farrah Fawcett Was Fresh From her "Charlie's Angels" Days When She Sat in With Johnny Carson
When Farrah Fawcett appeared on The Night Show in 1978, it was right after she left the hit TV series Charlie’s Angels after only one season. The show thrust Fawcett into the spotlight but also caused scheduling conflicts and time away from her husband, Lee Majors, star of his own TV series, The Six Million Dollar Man. Fawcett’s appearance with Johnny Carson was less than angelic as the actress spoke about her scantily-clad photo shoots and habit of going braless.
Blazing Saddle's Actress Robyn Hilton Looked Sexy with Johnny Carson
Actress Robyn Hilton started 1974 with an appearance on The Tonight Show ahead of her appearance in Blazing Saddles. Ditzy and voluptuous, Hilton entertained Carson with stories of her live on a farm in Twin Falls, Idaho, where she grew up and how she arrived in Hollywood to be an actress. Carson, always a bit of a sexist, asked her some rather insulting questions with sexual innuendos and assumptions. For example, he assumed that her acting career stemmed from a former stint in beauty pageants, to which Hilton explained "I don't believe in beauty pageants."
Jayne Kennedy Broke Racial and Gender Barriers
Breaking barriers during the 1970s, Jayne Kennedy did it all. She was a model, actress, dancer, beauty pageant winner, sports broadcaster and television personality. She was the first African-American to win the title of Miss Ohio. She broke gender barriers as well as racial barriers when she became one of the first women to become an NFL announcer and the first female to host the TV show, Greatest Sports Legends. For three years, Kennedy appeared on The Dean Martin Show as one of the Ding-A-Ling Sisters.
Dick Cavett and Janis Joplin Struck an Unlikely Friendship...A Groovy Rocker Chick and a Straight-Laced Square
Hip, edgy, drug-using rocker Janis Joplin was not the typical guest to appear on The Dick Cavett Show, but Joplin and Cavett, a well-known nerd and square, struck up an unlikely friendship that resulted in several appearances during the final year of her tragically-short life. Cavett even referred to Joplin as “my little songbird.” The two vastly different entertainers seem totally at ease with each other and the friendly, casual banter shows a different side of Joplin than fans were accustomed to seeing. She taped her last appearance on The Dick Cavett Show on August 3, 1970 and she died of a drug overdose on October 4, 1970.
That Time Phil Donahue Found a Wife on His Talk Show
Actress Marlo Thomas actually met her husband Phil Donahue on the set of his well-known and long-running talk show. It was obvious during their segment together that there was an attraction between the two. At the end of their interview, Donahue told Thomas, “You are fascinating. I’ve enjoyed talking to you”. Thomas replied, “You are kind and warm and compassionate. Whoever the woman in your life it, she is a lucky lady.” Very soon, Thomas was that woman. Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue married in 1980 and have been together ever since.
Glen Campbell Temporarily Set Aside His Rhinestone Cowboy Hat to Fill in as the Host of The Tonight Show
“Rhinestone Cowboy” singer, Glen Campbell, filled in for his friend Johnny Carson at the host of The Tonight Show from time to time and, on one such occasion, he interviewed actress and entertainer, Connie Stevens. Stevens had appeared in a few movies, but was most known for her run on the TV series, Hawaiian Eye. By the time she landed on the set of The Tonight Show on December 8, 1975, she was more popular overseas than she was in her own country. She for regular work in TV guest appearances and nightclub acts, but lamented that she did not have her own show.
Johnny Carson Was Smitten with Goldie Hawn's Bedroom Eyes When She Appeared on his Talk Show in 1969
The cute and comedic Goldie Hawn was fresh off her filming of “Cactus Flower”, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, when she appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1969. The funny girl was an international sensation from her appearances as a regular cast member of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. With her big, expressive eyes, dimpled smile, and infectious giggle, Hawn was an fresh and funny actress who proved time and again that she was more than the stereotyped dumb blonde.
Johnny Carson Turned into a Dirty-Minded Boy Around the Ample-Chested Dolly Parton
Although Johnny Carson was repeatedly inappropriate with her in the past, singer and actress Dolly Parton made several guest appearances on The Tonight Show. Carson demonstrated his womanizing tenancies around the ample-chested Parton and often used her appearances on his show to discuss her physical attributes rather than her upcoming projects.
Salty and Sweet...Joan Rivers and Dolly Parton
Sweet and gracious as a Southern Belle, Dolly Parton was an unlikely guest on The Joan Rivers Show, bantering with the salty and sarcastic Rivers. Parton proved she was a tough as she is delicate by holding her own with the wise-cracking Rivers. The show was bit of a clash of cultures with Rivers’ East Coast bluntness in sharp contrast to Parton’s laid-back Southern mannerisms. Parton even performed a few hits from her new album, “Slow Dancing with the Moon.”
Johnny Carson Had Only Two Things on His Mind When He Interviewed Dolly Parton
Although Dolly Parton is an accomplished singer, songwriter, actress, producer, and entertainer, the only thing Johnny Carson could focus on during her guest appearance on The Tonight Show was her disproportionately large breasts. Carson’s interview of Parton is cringe-worthy and teetered on the edge of sexual harassment. Parton handled the confrontation with grace and dignity while Carson continuously referenced her breasts. At one point, he even said, “I have certain standards on this show, but I would give a year’s pay to peek under there,” gesturing to Parton’s blouse.
A Mix of Mansfield and Monroe, Loni Anderson was a hit with Johnny Carson's Fans
Johnny Carson enjoyed having pretty blondes on his show and Loni Anderson fit the bill perfectly. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Anderson had amassed a large fan base from her starring role as sexy secretary Jennifer Marlowe on the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati. A struggling actress, Anderson was awarded the role in WKRP in Cincinnati because of her looks, not her acting ability. The show’s producers admitted that it was her smoking hot body, reminiscent of Jayne Mansfield, and her sultry innocents, like Marilyn Monroe, that most drew them to hire Anderson.
The Charismatic Shari Belafonte Appeared on The Merv Griffin Show During the Height of Her Popularity
Shari Belafonte, daughter of singer Harry Belafonte, made a name for herself in the 1980s. She worked as a model, then as an actress. She spent some time, early in her career, working behind the camera as a production assistant and publicist. Her break-out role came in the TV evening soap opera, Hotel, which ran from 1983 to 1988. It was during this time, at the height of Belefante’s popularity, that she appeared with Merv Griffin on his talk show.
Ballet with Sonny, Cher, and Mike Douglas in 1979.
Before husband-wife singing duo, Sonny and Cher had their own talk show/variety show, they appeared on The Mike Douglas Show. After the release of their first hit single, “T Got You, Babe”, from their Look At Us album, Sonny and Cher made regular appearances on the top television talk shows of the day, including Douglas’s show. Part of their appeal was their deep love for each other, their hippie clothing, and their charming ballads. In this pic, Cher is attempting to show Sonny and Mike Douglas her dance moves.
Cutchi Cutchi! It's Charo and Merv Griffin
Charo was a household name in the 1970s in part due to her over-the-top bubbly personality, her thick accent, her cleavage-bearing outfits, and her exotic sounding catch-phrase, ‘cutchi cutchi’. Born Maria del Rosario Mercedes Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza, she simplified her stage name to just one word, Charo. She made a career out of being a celebrity personality and regularly appeared on variety shows, sitcoms, and talk shows, like the Merv Griffith Show.
Betsy Palmer and Jackie Gleason in The Time of Your Life
The Time of Your Life was a short-lived 1958 television show that featured a regular cast of characters, including Jackie Gleason and Betsy Palmer, who observe and interact with new people each episode at a place called the Pacific Street Saloon. Gleason’s character evaluates the newcomers, along with feedback from the other regular patrons, to determine the true character of the person.
Cher co-hosted The Mike Douglas Show in 1979 and Everyone Tuned in to See What She Was Wearing
For a week in 1979, Cher co-hosted The Mike Douglas Show. The appearance gave her a chance to show off her unique fashion choices and perform some of her upcoming hits, including “Take Me Home,” “Happy Was the Day We Met,” and “My Song.” She answered questions from the studio audience and even had her husband, Sonny Bono, on as a guest. Cher’s week long co-hosting gig helped to show fans that she had more talent to offer than just being one half of the singing duo Sonny and Cher.
That Time When Deana Martin and Tina Sinatra Out-sang Their Famous Fathers
Deana Martin and Tina Sinatra, both 19 and the daughters of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, joined their famous singing fathers for a special appearance of The Dean Martin Show that aired on December 21, 1967. The teens sang “Do-Re-Mi” from The Sound of Music with their fathers. The heartwarming musical film about the singing Von Trapp family debuted in 1965 and starred Julie Andrews as Maria. The catchy showtunes from the film made for an ideal fathers and daughters collaboration.
Riding a Tricycle with Dean Martin was an Innocent Move for the Sensual Joey Heatherton
Joey Heatherton’s dancer moves were considered provocative and scandalous and many fans were shocked when she appeared on The Tonight Show in 1964 to teach Johnny Carson how to dance. The episode was so popular that she was invited to appear on the premier episode of The Dean Martin Show, which aired on September 16, 1965. She became a regular guest on the show after that. Although her dancing was called ‘sensual’ and ‘sleazy’ by critics, Heatherton was a popular talk show and variety show performer during the sixties and seventies.
Dean Martin, an OG Rat Packer, was the King of Cool
Dino Amore Mio The Dean Martin Show
The King of Cool, Dean Martin was the straight man to Jerry Lewis’s funny guy and, together, they formed one of the most iconic comedy duos in history. A masterful singer and member of Hollywood’s elite Rat Pack, Martin hosted two television variety shows, The Dean Martin Show and The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. The Dean Martin Show ran for 264 episodes between 1965 and 1974 and was hosted by Martin himself. In fact, the theme song of the show was one of Martin’s biggest hits, the 1964 “Everybody Love Somebody.”
Beautiful and Exotic, Elke Sommers' Hard Work Paid Off with a Long and Prosperous Career
A prolific performer, the German-born Elke Sommers appeared in 99 TV and film roles throughout her career. She was a natural to fill in with Mike Douglas as the guest co-host on The Mike Douglas Show. Sommers, whose family fled Nazi Germany during World War II, made a name for herself as an actress in both movies and television shows. In addition, she was a Playboy model, a talk show guest, and USO entertainer.
Jefferson Airplane Singer Grace Slick Was the First to Use the F-Word on TV
The episode of The Dick Cavett Show that featured the band Jefferson Airplane and aired on August 19, 1969, the day after Woodstock, is one that goes down in the history books for sending the television censors into melt-down mode. That’s because Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane became the first person to utter the infamous F-word on television. The incident occurred as the band was performing their hit, “We Can Be Together,” which features the shocking swear word. The utterance of the word stopped Cavett in his tracks and the incident led to more censorship on television shows.
"It" Girl Jean Shrimpton Was Everywhere in the 1960s, Including on The Merv Griffin Show
British model Jean Shrimpton has been called a number of things…the first major supermodel, the most beautiful girl in the world, the face of the moment, the world’s most famous model, and the “it”girl of the 1960s. You can add talk show guest and actress to that list. During the sixties, Shrimpton was everywhere from movies to magazines to runways to television…and even on The Merv Griffin Show.
Judy Garland Laughs with Jack Paar in 1962
Delightfully giggly, the great Judy Garland joined Jack Parr on The Tonight Show in 1962 in a very candid and humorous interview about her youth and early career. Garland, whose given name is Frances Gumm, got her start as a vaudeville performer along with her two sisters, Mary Jane and Dorothy. After she signed with MGM, she was educated on the movie set int a one room school house with Mickey Rooney and Liz Taylor.
The Dean Martin Show - Gail Martin
Dean Martin's daughter, Gail, joined him in a song on The Dean Martin Show. Martin was a well-established Vegas performer for three decades and Gail often joined him in his live Vegas act. All of Martin's children worked in show business in one aspect or another and he was especially proud that they all inherited his singing ability.
The Dean Martin Show - working out!
Keeping fit and buff! The fitness craze swept across the country in the 1970s and Dean Martin was sure to get in on the action. With some help and guidance from his talk show guests, Martin showed that her knew how to get physical. Of course, he's Dean Martin, so there was a comic, slap-stick style twist to his workout routine.
Reiko, with her Husband, Jack Douglas, Appeared on “The Merv Griffin Show” and Captivated Audiences with Her Exotic Style
Often billed as Jack Douglas and Reiko, Reiko was a talk show celebrity that made the rounds on various shows in the 1960s and 1970s. She capitalized on the American’s love of the foreign, exotic, and unusual by dressing in traditional Japanese garb and pretending to speak very little English. She was, in fact, fluent in the language and could skillfully steer the conversation, but she played the role of the stuttering foreigner so well that the public expected her to be lost, like a fish out of water, in the United States.
Suzanne Somers and Fred Astaire Discuss Dance and Fitness on The Mike Douglas Show.
An odd couple, the ditzy blonde start of TV's Three's Company, Suzanne Somers joined famed dancer Fred Astaire on The Mike Douglas Show. The two guest seemed like they were from two different worlds, but in fact, they proved that they have a lot in common. Both, of course, are entertainers, but they both also shared a similar fitness routine to help keep them in tip top shape.
Dionne Warwick Showed Off Her Acting Skills by Joining Dean Martin in a Comic Skit
Dionne Warwick was second only to Aretha Franklin as the most charted female singer of all time. Best remembered for hits such as “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?”, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” and “Never Love This Way Again,” Warwick was at her peak when she appeared on The Dean Martin Show. She even showed off her acting ability by joining Martin in a comic skit.
Zsa Zsa Gabor Laughs with Talk Show Host Jack Paar.
Zsa Zsa Gabor was known as much for her glamorous lifestyle, old European sophistication, and flirtatious personality as she was for her acting ability. The former Miss Hungary, 1936, Gabor moved to the U.S. with her sisters, Eva and Magda, in hopes of landing movie roles in Hollywood. She found work as a the typecast European socialite in several films but earned more of a reputation for her extravagant lifestyle and numerous romances. She was, in fact, married nine times.
Joan Crawford Gets a Standing Ovation on the Merv Griffin Show 1963
When Joan Crawford appeared on The Merv Griffin Show in 1963, she was riding a renewed wave of popularity that resulted from her award-winning performance in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”, a top grossing psychological thriller. Crawford had, throughout her career, engaged in public feuds with other actresses and then, of course, was the tell-all book exposing her cruelty as a mother to her adoptive children.
Bette Midler on Johnny Carson's last episode of the Tonight Show
Johnny Carson ended his long run as hose of the late night talk show, The Tonight Show, on May 22, 1992. Carson joined the show in 1962. Joining him on his farewell show was iconic singer, actress, and comedian, Bette Midler. In addition to saying farewell to Carson, Midler used the show to promote her upcoming film, Hocus Pocus, which went on to become a Halloween classic.
Can We Talk?
Can we talk? Joan Rivers’ iconic catchphrase stemmed from her days as a stand-up comedian. The tell-it-like-it-is comedian was known for stripping away facades and getting to the comedic root of issues and she started using the “can we talk?” catchphrase as her way of saying “let’s be honest”. She once noted, “I didn’t even realize I was saying it that much until audiences started repeating it back to me.” That is how a catchphrase is born. Rivers continued to use the phrase as a guest on talk shows and when she began hosting talk shows herself.
Elizabeth Taylor Laughs it Up with Johnny Carson
Elizabeth Taylor was one of Hollywood’s most glamorous leading ladies and a bankable box office draw, yet she grew frustrated with the lack of control over her own career in the early 1950s. She sought out more challenging roles, beginning with the epic Giant, followed by Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly Last Summer. When she was signed to play the title character in the big-budget movie, Cleopatra, her contract was for a record-breaking $1 million. It was during the filming of this movie that she began her famous affair with fellow star Richard Burton.
Jill Corey behind the scenes on the Johnny Carson Show
Jill Corey achieved some moderate success singing on a live radio show for her hometown radio station before she signed a recording contract. After that, she was a featured singer on several television and radio variety shows, such as The Dave Garroway Show, Your Hit Parade, and Music on Ice. Starting in 1956, Corey was a regular guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, as shown in this photograph. She even hosted her own live radio show. Corey has her own unique style of music and dress which, along with her girl-next-door personality, made her a crowd favorite.
Joan Crawford Was Johnny Carson's First Guest When He Took Over The Tonight Show
In 1962, Johnny Carson took over the hosting spot of the long-running late night talk show, The Tonight Show, from the former host, Jack Parr. To mark the passing of the guard, Johnny Carson’s first episode as host featured Joan Crawford as a guest. At this time, Crawford had been earning praise for her role in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, a masterful psychological thriller. Crawford starred as a washed up movie star, Blanche Hudson in this film…a far cry from her ingénue days. The role temporarily resurrected Crawford’s acting career, but she was bitter that her co-star, Bette Davis, received an Academy Award nomination and she didn’t.
Dean Martin Joined Engelbert Humperdinck on "Crosby, Sinatra, & Me"
1976 was a very good year for Engelbert Humperdinck. The singer and songwriter received praise for his ballad, “After the Lovin’,” which hit the top ten on the music charts and earned him a Grammy Nomination. The gold-selling tune was then named the “most played juke box record of the year”. The album by the same name became a double platinum seller. Humperdinck used his popularity to snap a guest appearance spot on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The next stop was a spot on The Dean Martin Show when Humperdinck sang “Crosby, Sinatra, and Me.”
Steve Allen Observed Elvis Rehearsing His Hit, "Hound Dog"
Steve Allen hosted The Tonight Show for half of 1961 and, during his reign, had the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley as one of his guests. This image captured a behind the scenes moment when Allen and Presley discuss the staging of “Hound Dog”. The King was released from the Army earlier that year, having served from 1958 to 1961, and was eager to resume his musical career. The stint in the Army only served to increase Presley’s popularity even more and his absence from show business while he was serving his country only cause a slight hiccup in his fame.
Errol Flynn Was a Swashbuckling Action Movie Star...and Womanizer
Swashbuckling actor, Errol Flynn rose to fame in 1935 for roles in action films, often with actress Olivia de Havilland. Although he was a popular Hollywood star and box office attraction, Flynn also had a reputation for being a womanizer who was romantically linked with many of the starlets of the time, including Carole Lombard, Lupe Velez, Dolores de Rio, and Marlene Dietrich. In fact, the common expression “in like Flynn” was coined to describe Flynn’s smooth seduction of women. Flynn was also a chain smoker, heavy drinker, and drug user.
Future late-night rivals appear together on The Tonight Show in 1979
When David Letterman hosted The Tonight Show, from 1982 through 1992, he had his predecessor, Jay Leno, on as a guest. Leno had spent years working as a stand-up comedian before transitioning to acting and talk show hosting. He took over as the host of The Tonight Show in 1992 and continued through 2009. Leno got into some trouble during the 2007-2008 Writers Guild strike when he wrote his own monologues. In 2004, Conan O’Brien signed a contract to take over as the host of The Tonight Show from Leno in 2009.
Remember When Joan Rivers Had a Girl Crush on Elvira?
Yes, Joan Rivers told Elvira, Mistress of the Dark that she couldn’t help staring at her breasts and even marveled at her deep cleavage when the horror personality Elvira, portrayed by actress Cassandra Peterson, appeared on Joan Rivers’ last night talk show. The appearance took place, of course, on Halloween night in 1985. Peterson built a career out of playing the original goth girl, a sexy vampire-meets-Morticia character that appeared in TV shows, film, comic books, and live performances throughout the 1980s.
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