Published January 24, 2005
Everyone who's anyone had something to say Sunday about the passing of Johnny Carson, especially those who worked or sat by his side or followed in his footsteps:
Ed McMahon: "Johnny Carson was a man I considered like a brother to me." Whenever he faced a major post-"Tonight" career decision, McMahon said, "I always got the OK from 'the boss.'"
Jay Leno: "No single individual has had as great an impact on television as Johnny. He was the gold standard."
David Letterman: "It's a sad day for his family. All of us who came after are pretenders. We will not see the likes of him again. ... He was the best, a star and a gentleman. A night doesn't go by that I don't ask myself, ‘What would Johnny have done?' He has been greatly missed since his retirement. Thank God for videotapes and DVDs. In this regard, he will always be around."
Bill Clinton: "Those 20 minutes on 'The Tonight Show' did more for my career than speaking for two days at the Democratic National Convention."
Jerry Lewis: "I think that Johnny, no matter how long he lived in Hollywood and no matter how much money he made, he still had a piece of straw stuck in his ear. He was the most decent, marvelous man I've ever known. I think because he had great personal esteem and he felt great in his skin and I think that he projected that and made others comfortable because of that.”
Bette Midler: "He had a little bit of devil and a whole lot of devil."
Oprah Winfrey: "I'm first of all stunned to hear it. I think he's been one of the greats of our time."
Bill Cosby: "Johnny was responsible for the beginning and the rise of success for more performers than anyone. I doubt if those numbers will ever be surpassed."
"Tonight Show" publicist Charles Barrett: "He always drove himself to work, never took a limo. He was a guy who expected a level of professionalism from everyone on the show."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.