Johnny Carson

Age: 79

legendary comedian who hosted NBC's The Tonight Show from 1962 to 1992, when he handed the microphone over to Jay Leno. Carson's quick wit, charm, monologues, and interviews made the show the highest-rated late-night program. He used his monologues to skewer the missteps of celebrities, politicians, and businesspeople. Carson began his career as a magician and went on to write comedy sketches for radio and to host daytime television quiz shows before taking over for Jack Paar in 1962.

Died: Malibu, Calif., Jan. 23, 2005

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