Seven-year-old Drew had Johnny and the audience in the palm of her hand when she confessed that she’d waited “all her life” to meet him. Drew talked about making E.T. (1982) with Steven Spielberg and explained why she didn’t get Heather O’Rourke’s part in Poltergeist (1982).
Kirk Douglas had just written his autobiography The Ragman’s Son when he appeared on the show in 1988. Douglas revealed the question asked by a hitchhiker that inspired him to write, why he included his affairs in the book and how he got stranded on the way to Palm Springs dressed in his Spartacus costume.
One of the biggest stars of the 1970s, Mary Tyler Moore spoke with Johnny about her perky image vs. her real personality, about how she missed the people she worked with on her show and why she decided to end it when she did.
Johnny Carson’s close friend, Neil Simon discussed writing—how he was able to make a living at it in his early years, how plays were much easier to write than films or television scripts and a description of his working method.
The one and only George Burns appeared on the show at the age of 93 to promote his newest book All My Best Friends . He spoke with Johnny about those friends, including George Jessel, Al Jolson, Groucho Marx and his best friend, Jack Benny.
Monday, July 8 at 8:00 PM (ET)
Doris Day joined Johnny to discuss why she decided to set the record straight about her life and write her autobiography. She shot down her screen image as a virgin (which she found boring), revealed why she never wanted to be an actress, and why she thought that couples should live together before marriage.
In this 1976 interview, Charlton Heston talked about his childhood in the small town of St. Helen, Michigan, his obsession with tennis, and what it was like to work during the golden age of Hollywood with the legendary directors like Cecil B. DeMille and William Wyler.
Chevy Chase and Johnny discussed the difficulties of hosting a program, then film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel gave their opinions of Chase’s previous films and a critique of his newest, The Three Amigos (1986).
Steve Martin came on the show to discuss his book Cruel Shoes and his new movie The Jerk (1979), and in the process, played with the boom mic, pretended to strangle Ed McMahon, admitted to wetting his pants and revealed the one thing that would make him break up with a woman.
Tony Curtis spoke with Johnny about his admiration for Spencer Tracy and Burt Lancaster, his early years in films, of how he used to do Hollywood tours in an old hearse by telling the guard the tourists were his family, and how unreliable acting was as a profession.
Monday, July 15 at 8:00 PM (ET)
The “unpredictable” Shelley Winters lived up to her reputation as she spoke about her attraction to 22-year-old Freddie Prinze, about being strangled by Ronald Colman in A Double Life (1947), and then doused Oliver Reed with whiskey when he expressed his views on Women’s Lib.
Former governor of California, actor and future President Ronald Reagan sat down with Johnny in 1975 to discuss politics, his beliefs about the complicated income tax structure, the cure for inflation and what he thought was the biggest problem with the government.
Robin Williams made his first appearance on the show with non-stop jokes that ran the gamut from herpes to trout for Halloween, cocaine, getting audited for making Ronald Reagan jokes, studying Shakespeare at Juilliard with John Houseman as his professor and working with Jonathan Winters.
Jonathan Winters kept Johnny and Ed laughing as he talked about Christmases past, including getting electrocuted by a Lionel train when he was a kid, his hang-up about what’s actually in Christmas fruitcakes and why eggnog doesn’t work.
Michael Caine sat down with Johnny to discuss the dangers of filming in Morocco, why he was paid more to appear in a bad film than a good one, his decision to finally get a drivers license and what it was like to come to Hollywood and meet the movie stars he admired in his childhood.
Monday, July 22 at 8:00 PM (ET)
The legendary Mel Brooks talked about Johnny turning down Gene Wilder’s role of the Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles (1974) and the fun he had making Young Frankenstein (1974), then spit Ed’s coffee all over the set and nearly made Johnny fall out of his chair laughing with reminiscences on being a young comic.
Funnyman Dom DeLuise, Johnny and Ed McMahon had the audience in stitches as they discussed what they each wore to bed. DeLuise extolled the joys of wearing a nightgown, Johnny revealed what Victoria McMahon told him that Ed wore to bed, and Ed disclosed the unusual object that Joanna Carson said Johnny slept with.
Bette Davis was as outspoken as ever when she appeared on the show in 1983. She spoke of how she would want to be remembered, how she responded to criticism, why she still enjoyed working instead of resting on her laurels and how she envied Katharine Hepburn’s looks and couldn’t stand her own.
Burt Reynolds was one of the biggest sex-symbols in the world when he appeared on the show in 1972. He talked about doing his own stunt in the waterfall scene in Deliverance (1972) and why guest-hosting the show for Johnny was even more painful than cracking his tail-bone.
Johnny spoke with Fred Astaire (who he described as having “truly achieved immortality in motion pictures”) about having recently turned 80, Astaire’s legendary reputation for being a perfectionist, constantly being asked by women to dance and whether Astaire had plans to donate a pair of his dancing shoes to the Smithsonian.
Monday, July 29 at 8:00 PM (ET)
Henry Fonda spoke of why he still enjoyed being an actor after 55 years, of his lack of ambition to be a star, his experience in New York as a young actor with very little money living with Jimmy Stewart and Josh Logan, and the part he identified with more than any other.
Elizabeth Taylor sat down with Johnny during his last season, in 1992, to thank him “for thirty years of brilliant entertainment.” Taylor touched upon her friendship with Michael Jackson, on standing up to MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer when she was only fifteen and her latest marriage to Larry Fortensky.
Susan Sarandon discussed why she wrote more letters and telegrams to Richard Nixon than her relatives, being robbed by burglars while she was asleep, her irrational fear of driving on the freeway in California and doing stunts on The Great Waldo Pepper (1975).
William Holden came on the show to discuss Network (1976) and which executive he based his character on, as well as the writer Paddy Chayefsky and the business of television. Holden also shared thoughts on his natural curiosity, his luck in being able to travel as an actor and why Johnny should go see Africa.
The multi-talented Goldie Hawn discussed her hair, her laugh, executive producing Private Benjamin (1980), and the moment when she first realized that she could make people laugh. She also spoke of her experiences with psychics and of the surprising thing a psychic told her when she first arrived in California.