Johnny Carson was a beloved icon of American television, hosting “The Tonight Show” for 30 years and becoming a fixture in millions of households across the country. However, as more information has come to light about his behavior with female guests on the show, some of his actions have been called into question.
Here are just a few of the times Johnny Carson went way too far with his female guests:
- Ed Ames’ Tomahawk Incident
During a segment with Ed Ames, a member of the singing group The Ames Brothers, Carson famously demonstrated how to throw a tomahawk. Unfortunately, his aim was off, and the tomahawk hit a silhouette of a man in the crotch area, prompting laughter from the audience. Carson then turned to Ames and said, “I didn’t even know you were Jewish.” The comment was clearly meant to be a reference to Ames’ circumcision, and it was not well received.
- Raquel Welch’s Groping
Actress Raquel Welch was a frequent guest on “The Tonight Show,” and during one appearance, Carson seemed to get a little too handsy. Welch was wearing a low-cut dress, and Carson repeatedly made comments about her breasts and even groped her on camera. Welch later said that she didn’t know how to respond at the time and just tried to laugh it off.
- Zsa Zsa Gabor’s “Slap”
Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor was known for her quick wit and biting comebacks, but when she appeared on “The Tonight Show” in 1968, Carson seemed determined to get a rise out of her. He repeatedly interrupted her and made crude comments, prompting Gabor to slap him across the face. The incident was played for laughs, but it left many viewers uncomfortable.
- Angie Dickinson’s Hotel Room Visit
Actress Angie Dickinson was a frequent guest on “The Tonight Show,” and in 1979, she made a shocking revelation during an appearance. She claimed that Carson had once come to her hotel room in the middle of the night and tried to seduce her. Dickinson said she had turned him down, but she was clearly upset by the incident.
- Joan Rivers’ Banishment
Comedian Joan Rivers was a regular guest host on “The Tonight Show” and had a good working relationship with Carson for many years. However, in 1986, Rivers made the decision to launch her own talk show on a rival network. Carson was reportedly furious and felt betrayed by Rivers, and he never spoke to her again. Rivers later said that Carson had not only banished her from “The Tonight Show,” but he had also actively worked to sabotage her career.
Finally, these are just a few of the instances where Johnny Carson’s behavior with female guests on “The Tonight Show” crossed the line. While he was undeniably a talented entertainer, his actions toward women have rightfully come under scrutiny in recent years. It’s important to hold public figures accountable for their behavior and to create a culture where everyone, regardless of gender, can feel safe and respected.