I just got through watching the “American Masters” episode about Johnny Carson, and it was terrific – funny, and moving, and revealing. It’s available to watch online, and if you missed it over the air it would be well worth watching it that way.
They showed a very brief snippet of Johnny’s last TV appearance, which I recall as clearly as if it were yesterday.
Johnny, of course, is widely believed to have thought David Letterman, not Jay Leno, his ideal successor. What is certain is that he never appeared with Leno after retiring.
Anyway, a year or so after Letterman moved to CBS, he did a week of shows from Los Angeles. There was a running gag that week where Dave would introduce some hugely famous celebrity who was supposed to be bringing out the Top Ten list. Each night it would really be Calvert DeForest (a/k/a Larry “Bud” Melman), although the on-screen graphic would display “CLINT EASTWOOD” or “BARBRA STREISAND” or what have you. Calvert would claim to be that person, but obviously would make no effort to actually look, act or talk like that person.
This went on for four nights. On the fifth night, Friday, this happened: