Name at birth: Carl H. Severinsen
Doc Severinson spent 25 years as the colorful musical director for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. Severinson played cornet and trumpet in big bands in the 1940s (touring with Benny Goodman among others), and got most of his work in the studio as a sideman and soloist. At NBC he won a job with Steve Allen and he began working for The Tonight Show in 1962, the same year that Carson began his run as the show's host. Severinsen became the show's musical director in 1967 and stayed until Carson retired in 1992. (Severinsen's outrageously flashy shirts and leisure suits were a long-running joke on the show.) Known for his brassy sound and cheerful demeanor, Severinsen has recorded dozens of albums and appeared with pop orchestras across the United States.
Severinsen got his nickname as a boy: he was called "Little Doc" because his father was a dentist.