Kathy Shaidle

Johnny, we hardly knew ye (supported Planned Parenthood)

Posted on August 11 2010 6:00 pm
Kathy Shaidle blogs at FiveFeetOfFury, now entering its 11th year online. Her latest book is Acoustic Ladylandkathy shaidle, which Mark Steyn calls "a must-read."
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"Johnny Carson's Curtain" by artist Rena Small

The other girls loved bubblegum pop stars. Me? I always preferred comedians.

Those girls had Tiger Beat, but alas, comedy groupies have no such publication. So the best I could do was talk my way into staying up to see my favorites when they guested on The Tonight Show.

Like Martha Stewart (not to mention his own predecessor, Jack Paar) Carson proved you didn’t have to be warm and cuddly to be an American TV star. The longtime Tonight Show host slowly morphed from the gawky, aw-shucks Nebraska boy who loved doing card tricks to an aloof, graceful, self-contained and immaculately tailored maker-of-stars.

(The day after Freddie Prinze got the coveted signal to join Carson on the couch after his stand-up set, Prinze landed a TV development deal for his own sitcom.)

I was such a fan that I got someone to videotape Carson’s last week on the air, since I’d be away at a wilderness writers’ retreat.

It’s always sad to find out something you didn’t want to hear about someone who were always fond of. So I could have happily lived the rest of my life without finding out that Johnny Carson is a big supporter of Planned Parenthood.

I say “is” because the estate of the late TV legend just announced new disbursements from his foundation.

The Hollywood Reporter has the scoop:

IRS tax returns filed in May and covering the fiscal year through June 2010, show the John W. Carson Foundation was gifted with $35.2 million in cash and $121.2 million in securities and royalty rights from the John W. Carson Trust. These and other donations have been established to support a variety of charitable and human services organizations, including Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Planned Parenthood

I should have been excited this week by the news that big chunks of Carson’s surviving show archives (most early kinescopes were destroyed) will soon be available online, but I’m not. It’s much worse that our extorted tax dollars support Planned Parenthood, but still, knowing that the likes of the Playboy Foundation and Carson’s estate are keeping it afloat is depressing, too.

There’s an old showbiz urban legend, that the laugh tracks on shows like M*A*S*H were really old tapes of studio audience reactions during live broadcasts back in the 1930s. Which led one actor (some say Andy Kaufmann) to worry over the creepy fact that, well, dead people were laughing at him.

There’s an “I hear dead people” joke in here somewhere, about Johnny Carson supporting an abortion mill. I just know there is…

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