John William "Johnny" Carson (October 23, 1925 January 23, 2005) was an American talk show host and comedian, best known for his 30 years as host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (19621992). Although his show was already successful by the end of the 1960s, during the 1970s Carson became an American icon and remained so even after his retirement in 1992. He adopted a casual, conversational approach with extensive interaction with guests, an approach pioneered by Arthur Godfrey and previous Tonight Show hosts Steve Allen and Jack Paar.
Carson received six Emmy Awards, the Television Academy's 1980 Governor's Award, and a 1985 Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987. Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1993. Fellow late-night host and friend David Letterman cited Carson as a great influence.
Offstage he was well known for being a rather shy and reserved person who was only really comfortable within his small circle of friends and very rarely gave interviews, which meant that post retirement he all but vanished from the spotlight and only resurfaced for the odd guest appearance.