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Real Name:  John William "Johnny" Carson

Identity/Class: Human civilian;
    citizen of the United States of America

Occupation: Host of "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson"

Group Membership:  Mighty Carson Art Players

Affiliations: Beast (Hank McCoy), Charo, Fred de Cordova, Joan Embry, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Arsenio Hall, Pee Wee Herman, Al Hirt, "Jester" (Daredevil in disguise, posing as Jester/Jonathan Powers), J. Jonah Jameson, David Letterman, Norman Mailer, Ed McMahon, Peter Parker, Victoria Principle, Charles Nelson Reilly, Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff), Doc Severinsen, William Shatner, Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff), Vision ("Victor Shade"), Wonder Man (Simon Williams) (see comments)

Enemies: None (though his three ex-wives and their divorce laywers might disagree)

Known Relatives: Chris Carson (son), Rick Carson (son, deceased), Richard Carson (son), Joanne Copeland (wife, divorced), Joanna Holland (wife, divorced), Alexis Maas (wife), Jeff Sotzing (nephew), Joan Morril Wolcott (wife, divorced),

Aliases: Aunt Blabby, Art Fern, Karnak the Magnificent, El Mouldo, Ronald Reagan, Floyd R. Turbo (characters portrayed on the Tonight Show)

Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
    formerly NBC Studios, ("beautiful downtown") Burbank, California
    formerly Studio 6B, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man I#50 (July 1967)

Powers/Abilities:  Johnny Carson possessed no known superhuman abilities. A gifted performer and entertainer, he hosted the popular late night talk show "The Tonight Show" for several decades. Starting out in New York, but eventually moving to California. Carson was a skilled conversationalist with a quick wit and expert timing who could find humor in most situations, even his multiple divorces. Johnny Carson was a smoker.

Height: 5'8"
Weight: 140 lbs. (by approximation)
Eyes: Blue/Green
Hair: White (brown in his younger years)

(Amazing Spider-Man I#50 - BTS) - Johnny Carson had been the star of the popular New York City based Tonight Show for several years, along with his sidekick and announcer, Ed McMahon. Every night, they welcomed a variety of (movie) stars and celebrities as guests on their nation-wide live talk show that started at 11:30 PM (23.30 hours)  and lasted until 1 AM (1.00 in the morning) in Eastern Standard Time, anyway.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#50 - BTS) - Always looking for interesting guests, the bookers of the show picked up on a story the Daily Bugle had been running about Spider-Man possibly having quit. They invited J. Jonah Jameson to come on the show.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#50) - J. Jonah Jameson appeared on the Tonight Show, thoroughly excited to be there and announce the end of the wall-crawling public menace. While Ed McMahon showed the audience the Spider-Man costume that had been found in a dumpster and served as Jameson's proof Spidey had retired, Jonah shamelessly tried to promote the Daily Bugle, reminding viewers the papers was offering a bargain subscription rate at the moment. Carson gently tried to get the conversation back to Spider-Man.

(Daredevil I#46 - BTS) - Hoping to draw out his enemy the Jester, Daredevil (Matt Murdock) acquired a Jester costume and arranged for an appearance on the Tonight Show.

(Daredevil I#46) - The real Jester (Jonathan Powers) happened to catch the Tonight Show and was furious when he spotted Johnny happily chatting with the impostor. He rushed to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, barged into the studio and engaged his enemy, who eventually revealed himself as Daredevil. After a fierce fight, Daredevil defeated Jester and unmasked him on live television.

(Avengers I#77 - BTS) - After rival business man Cornelius van Lunt attempted a hostile take over of Stark Industries, the Avengers bankroller Anthony Stark was forced to demand that the Avengers paid off the 120,000 dollars in back rent they technically owed him for operating out of his New York townhouse. Seeing no other alternatives, the Avengers decided to rent out their services to the highest bidder, even sky-writing the fact they were available over Manhattan. This was picked up by the bookers for the Tonight Show.

(Avengers I#77) - Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch appeared on the Tonight Show to discuss the fact they'd set themselves the goal to come up with the rent money in a week. After hearing just how much the team owed in back rent, Carson joked that he was afraid to ask about their phone bill, before throwing to Ed McMahon who had to do a live commercial for dog food.

(Avengers I#77 - BTS) - Following their appearance on Carson, the Avengers found themselves deluged by offers of companies, cities, and private citizens ready to hire them for their services.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#99 - BTS) - Spider-Man helped foil a riot at a local prison, but realized a lot of the inmates had acted out because of the deplorable living conditions there. Web swinging to the Daily Bugle afterwards, hoping to sell some pictures of the prison incident, the eternally strapped for cash super hero was spotted by Johnny Carson who called him over.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#99) - Having heard all about the prison riot on the radio, Carson figured Spider-Man would be a great "get" and asked him to appear on the show tonight. At first, Spider-Man wasn't too into the idea, not even when Johnny proposed to make him a star, the next Zsa Zsa Gabor even. However, when Carson offered to pay Spidey for his appearance, he eventually agreed and showed up just before taping. After Ed McMahon introduced both Johnny and his special guest Spider-Man, the web-slinger swooped in over the audience on a web-line and schmoozed with Carson for a bit, proving he was the real deal by briefly webbing the host and lifting him up. Spider-Man then turned to the cameras and, aware he was reaching millions of viewers, delivered a passionate, heartfelt monologue about the terrible conditions in prisons today, pointing out that they had become hotbeds of crime, turning one-time offenders into hardened criminals by the time they got out. Right after he'd finished making his case, Spidey noticed the security guards had brought in the police (he was still wanted by this point), who were ready to arrest him. Spider-Man quickly left the studio even as one of Carson's producers put on a soap commercial.

(Captain America I#248 - BTS) - An unidentified husband and wife were in bed, with the wife watching the Tonight Show and worrying the excitement had gone out of their marriage. Moments after that, Dragon Man smashed his way through the bedroom with Captain America hot on his tail.

(West Coast Avengers II#4 - BTS) -  Johnny Carson moved the Tonight Show to California. Now taping shows from the NBC Studios in Burbank, his show enjoyed a greater influx of Hollywood movie stars. One of them was Simon Williams, the industrialist turned actor/stuntman and Avenger who was making quite the name for himself as a rising star.

(West Coast Avengers II#4) - Following the notes his segment producers had put together following the pre-interview they had with Wonder Man, Carson was ready to talk about Williams' booming career. However, Simon surprised Johnny by stating he'd first like to make an important announcement. Carson, always the consummate quipster, speculated what Wonder Man might be talking about: ad libbing puns like Williams being the new head of programming for ABC, marrying his ex-wife and cornering the 3-D market by painting half of his trademark glasses red. Taking the gentle puns with a smile, Simon then confessed on camera that he was guilty of embezzling money from his own company, a crime his brother Eric Williams had taken the fall for. Ready to rid himself of the guilt he felt over this, Williams took responsibility for his actions, allowing the public to decide for themselves what they thought of him because of this. Johnny for one, enthusiastically shook Simon's hand, congratulating the hero on being so brave. Even as Wonder Man left the stage at the end of his segment, Carson roused the crowd into giving him a massive round of applause in support.

(West Coast Avengers II#25) - Riding high on the success following the premiere of his first starring role in a feature film (Arkon IV), Simon Williams did a guest spot on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. However, moments after his segments was finished and the crowd cheered him on, the Abomination attacked him.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#305 - BTS) - While on a nation wide book tour to promote "Webs," a coffee table book of Spider-Man pictures he shot over the years, Peter Parker and his wife Mary Jane Watson-Parker arrived in California. When Charles Nelson Reilly had to pull out of a scheduled Tonight Show appearance, Peter's publicist managed to get him on the show as Johnny's final guest of the evening.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#305) - Peter and Johnny closed out the show, having a pleasant chat about "Webs." At the end of the segment, Carson thanked Parker for being on the show while announcing tomorrow night's guests: Al Hirt, Victoria Principle and (from the San Diego zoo) Joan Embry.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#305 - BTS) - Shortly after the taping, Peter and Mary Jane were approached backstage by Tonight Show executive producer Fred DeCordova. He thanked Peter for having been able to come on at such short notice and apologized to Mary Jane for not being aware they had a supermodel in their midst.

(Avengers Spotlight I#23 - BTS) - Taking to heart the advice he'd received after being rebuilt into his new, ghost-like pale form, the Vision decided to promote himself by appearing on several talk shows, like the Carson show and even Johnny's direct competitor Arsenio Hall.

(Avengers Spotlight I#23) - Vision startled Johnny, Ed and their guests, Charo, Pee-Wee Herman and (musical guest) William Shatner by suddenly rising up out of the floor near Johnny's desk. When Carson allowed the surprise visitor to sit down, casually announcing this meant Norman Mailer would have to wait, he allowed the synthozoid (see comments) to explain his new appearance. Carson watched as Vision, having finished his talk, took his leave of the audience. However, he did honor Johnny's request not to appear on any other talk shows, giving Carson the scoop even though Vision had planned a similar guest spot on Arsenio Hall's show.

(Marvel Comics Presents I#39 - BTS) - Ensorcelled by the Enchantress, Wonder Man didn't think twice about taking Amora on as his new agent. Using her magic, she ensured Simon the leading part in a new movie, with the equally enthralled director setting up an appearance for both Amora and Simon on the Tonight Show that same night.

(Marvel Comics Presents I#39) - Just before the show, Amora chatted with Johnny, who was supposed to be off this evening. Carson revealed, however, that he sensed he needed to be there for her and Simon's appearance, comparing their booking to the night the Beatles took America by storm when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. However, Amora wasn't too pleased when Johnny revealed there might be a few surprises ahead for her and Wonder Man on the show tonight.

(Marvel Comics Presents I#39 - BTS) -  The Beast (Hank McCoy), now commonly recognized as a member of the mutant-hunting band of mercenaries known as X-Factor, was hired to come on as a surprise guest during Simon's spot. Hoping to help his former Avengers pal, Hank traveled to Burbank.

(Marvel Comics Presents I#39) - Right in the middle of Carson's interview with Simon, the Beast walked out, yelling one of Johnny's guests tonight was a wanted murderer. Furious, Wonder Man stood up, ready to deal with McCoy.

(Marvel Comics Presents I#40) - Johnny, Ed and Doc Severinsen all took cover while Wonder Man went head to head with Beast. As he rushed for cover, Carson couldn't help but comment none of his marriages never ever went as bad as the tiff between the two Avengers escalated.

(Avengers III#23 (fb) - BTS) -  During a heated discussion with the Vision (who was distraught over feeling like an inferior copy of Simon Williams), Wonder Man revealed how he felt like the real fraud because people kept forgiving him for his crimes even if he himself didn't feel worthy of that compassion. To illustrate, he recalled how after admitting to embezzlement on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, he still wasn't held accountable.

Comments: Created by Stan Lee (writer), John Romita (pencils), Mickey Dimeo (inks).

    Yours truly was a little too young (and a little too Dutch) to have watched any of Johnny Carson's Tonight Shows when they first aired. A shame, though the sense of cultural importance is obvious. From October 1st 1962 til May 22nd, 1992 (give or take a guest host or 47), Johnny, Ed and Doc were there late at night. Several generations grew up with Carson, and while that's all well and good it also makes it almost impossible to work Carson's Tonight Show into comics. Following the rules of the sliding timescale, the modern era didn't even start about a decade after Carson went off the air in 1992. How does one explain Johnny interacting with Spider-Man and the others?

    Well, it's a flimsy excuse and it won't hold up in court, but Johnny's full name or that of the show he's hosting is never fully mentioned in any of his appearances. It's always "Johnny" or, "the talk show host" or the events take place at "Johnny Carson's television studios in Burbank." That makes it somewhat easier to swallow, and explain away unlike the time the Avengers appeared on Late Night With David Letterman back in 1984, but let's not get into that. Having Carson appear in the comics was a clever move on Stan Lee's part and a logical one too. At the time (the mid-sixties) the Tonight Show was as much a fixture of New York landscape as the Flat Iron Building, the Statue of Liberty or the Carnegie Deli.
    That all changed when Johnny permanently moved the show to Burbank, California in 1972 where the franchise remained until Jimmy Fallon took over as host in 2014.
    --Yeah, it would be the Tonight Show, with whatever host fits into the sliding timescale...just like with appearances of the US President, etc.--Snood.

    Considering Carson had over 5000 guests during his career, it's fair to say his affiliations should include a few more names... However, for clarity's sake, I've decided only to list the people Carson actually appeared with in the Marvel stories.
    --All real world actors, etc. appearing or mentioned on the show would also be topical references.--Snood

    In Avengers I#57 (October, 1968), Hank Pym coined the term "synthozoid" to describe the Vision. Subsequent issues have some spelled in synthezoid or synthazoid. While the former of those two terms makes the most sense given that we are working from "synthetic android," synthozoid has the precedent. The Official Marvel Index to the Avengers#3 (October, 1987) supports this.

Profile by Norvo.

Johnny Carson should not be confused with

Fred de Cordova

Long time producer of the Tonight Show with an impressive Hollywood resume, having directed Ronald Reagan in such modern classics as Bedtime for Bonzo, Fred de Cordova was well known in the business as one of the smoothest power brokers in Hollywood. Always charming and unflappable in the face of whatever crisis came his way, Fred was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the most popular show in late night television. As such, he often used his talent for schmoozing and subtly using his clout and connections to book guests. Fred approached Peter Parker after a taping of the Tonight Show, thanking the author of Webs for being able to fill in after their third confirmed guest of the evening, Charles Nelson Reilly, fell through. The notoriously lotharian De Cordova then wasted little time making time with Peter's wife Mary Jane, commenting that he really should have known she was there... after all, having a super model make a walk on appearance on the show would have been great for ratings.

Some time later, De Cordova was perplexed and a little afraid when long time Avengers Beast and Wonder Man started a fist fight on his soundstage. He rushed to the nearest payphone to call his old friend, former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, for help... Only for the gipper to turn him down, essentially telling "Freddy" to look out for himself.

-- Amazing Spider-Man I#305 (Marvel Comics Presents I#39-40


Ed McMahon

 A former colonel in the marines turned pitchman and entertainer, Ed McMahon served as Johnny Carson's announcer and sidekick throughout its decades long run. McMahon, well known for his booming voice, coined the iconic catchphrase "heeeeee're's Johnny!" which he used to bring out Carson  the Tonight Show intro. Another famous quote by McMahon is "hey-oooooo!," usually yelled after Carson told a particularly groanworthy joke during his monologue. Often serving as a comic foil during comedy bits, McMahon also did live commercials during the show, promoting a wide variety of products, from dog food to beer. During the sit down portion of the show, McMahon would always be next to Carson as they engaged in some friendly banter or performed a comedy piece, often punctuated by McMahon's dry oneliners or hearty bellylaughs. As the guests came out, McMahon moved further down the couch. 

-- Amazing Spider-Man I#50 (Amazing Spider-Man I#99, Amazing Spider-Man I#305 (though, as Johnny's sidekick he was there with Carson at all times)

images: (without ads)
Amazing Spider-Man I#305, p18, pans1&2 (main image)
Amazing Spider-Man I#50, p15, pan1) (first appearance)
Avengers I#77, p9, pan1 (and the bankrupt Avengers)
West Coast Avengers I#4, p16, pans4&6 (helps out Wonder Man)
Solo Avengers I#23, p20, pans6&7 (suddenly hosting Vision)
Marvel Comics Presents I#40 p15, pan1 (
Fred de Cordova calls the Gipper)
Amazing Spider-Man I#99, p18, pan3 (Ed McMahon interrupted while announcing Johnny)

Amazing Spider-Man I#50 (July 1967) -
Stan Lee (writer, editor), John Romita (pencils), Mickey Dimeo (inks)
Daredevil I#46 (November 1968) - Stan Lee (writer, editor), Gene Colan (pencils), George Klein (inks)
Avengers I#77 (June 1970) - Roy Thomas (writer), John Buscema (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Amazing Spider-Man I#99 (August 1971) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Gil Kane (pencils), Frank Giacoia (inks)
Captain America I#248 (August 1980) - Roger Stern (writer), John Byrne (pencils), Joe Rubinstein (inks), Jim Salicrup (editor)
West Coast Avengers II#4 (January 1986) - Steve Englehart (writer), Al Milgrom (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
West Coast Avengers II#25 (October 1987) - Steve Englehart (writer), Al Milgrom (pencils), Mike Machan (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Amazing Spider-Man I#305 (September 1988) - David Michelinie (writer), Todd McFarlane (pencils), Mark McKenna et al (inks), Jim Salicrup (editor)
Avengers Spotlight I#23 (October 1989) - John Byrne/Kieron Dwyer (writers), Kieron Dwyer (pencils), Karl Kesel (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Marvel Comics Presents I#39 (Early January 1990) - Michael Higgins (writer), Javier Saltares (pencils), José Marzan (inks), Terry Kavanagh (editor)
Marvel Comics Presents I#40 (Late January 1990) - Michael Higgins (writer), Javier Saltares (pencils), José Marzan (inks), Terry Kavanagh (editor)
Avengers III#23 (December 1999) - Kurt Busiek (writer), George Pérez (pencils), Al Vey (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)

Last updated: 07/20/14

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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