Tonight Show Guest Hosts: Keeping Johnny Carson's Seat Warm

By | January 3, 2019

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The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson - Season 12 Pictured: (l-r) Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes, guest host Jerry Lewis on December 27, 1973. Source: (Photo by: Paul W. Bailey/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

During the 30 years that Johnny Carson was host of The Tonight Show, celebrity guest hosts were common. And in fact, for those who hoped to get their own talk show someday, getting the nod to sit in for Johnny was a major endorsement is quite extensive. Among the favorites are Jerry Lewis, Don Rickles, Bill Cosby, Frank Sinatra, Rich Little, David Letterman, John Denver, Steve Martin, and even Kermit the Frog.

Jerry Lewis was a popular guest host back in the sixties and seventies. He has always been a very funny comedian and actor. Alongside Dean Martin in the fifties, Lewis starred in movies such as That’s My Boy in 1951, The Stooge in 1952, and Hollywood or Bust in 1956, which was their last film together. Jerry Lewis was also known for his starring role in The Nutty Professor. Bringing his slapstick humor to The Tonight Show proved to be quite entertaining as well.

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Source: (Photo from 27-frank_sinatra_theredlist)

Frank Sinatra was one of the most popular singers of the twentieth century.  He was also an actor and producer as well. He was one of the guest hosts of The Tonight Show. One episode in particular that he hosted was with guests Don Rickles, George Burns, Carroll O’Connor, and a few other popular celebrities that provided a really entertaining episode with witty comments by Don Rickles. Some of his comments though, that were considered acceptable during that era, would cause quite a stir today because of racial slurs and other innuendos.