Having spent a fair amount of time working on a trivia app for “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” we thought we pretty much knew all there was to know about the legendary man and the groundbreaking show. But we recently traveled to see the exhibit at the Fullerton Museum called “Here’s Johnny: The Making of the Tonight Show.” The collection featured costumes worn by Carson when performing as Aunt Blabby and Art Fern, his magic paraphernalia from his early days in the business and the cue cards from his very last show. But for us it unearthed a few tidbits that we had never heard before.
And so, coming to you straight from beautiful downtown Burbank, we share with you our discoveries:
1. Johnny Loved LifeSavers
In his make-up kit, next to the usual fare — brushes, pencils, powder puffs — there was one draw full of Wint O Green Life Savers. We guess he always wanted to have clean, fresh breath to greet his guests.
2. He Bronzed His Rubber Chicken
We knew that for the 30-year run of the show, Johnny always kept a rubber chicken behind his desk, because, if all else fails, a rubber chicken always gets a laugh. But we had never heard that at one point his rubber chicken began to disintegrate and so they had the plastic poultry bronzed to save it for posterity.
3. There Were Four Coffee Cups Per Show
On the desk for every Tonight Show episode there were four coffee cups — one for Johnny and three others for guests one, two and three. All were clearly marked to as not to cause confusion.
4. Johnny Had the Stars at His Fingertips
Long before the advent of the mobile phone that syncs your address book between all your devices, there was a more primitive way of storing your contact information — a Rolodex. The circular, card-holding device kept every phone number at your finger tips with the flick of a wrist. And Johnny’s Rolodex could put them all to shame with names, addresses and numbers for every star that ever graced the show — including Dame Elizabeth Taylor.
5. Johnny Kept a Beat
Johnny was a proficient drummer and would sit in with Doc Severinsen and the NBC Orchestra from time to time. He always kept a pair of drumsticks near his desk at the ready.
The “Here’s Johnny: The Making of the Tonight Show” exhibit ends on August 16. So, if you’re in the Fullerton area this weekend, it’s worth the trip. Fullerton Museum, 301 N. Pomona Ave, Fullerton, CA, 714-738-6545. CityofFullerton.com.