Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

Johnny Carson Tops List of '50 Greatest TV Icons'

It doesn't take a psychic in a bejeweled turban to figure out that Johnny Carson landed the top spot.

But deeper down the ranking of "The 50 Greatest TV Icons," you may find a name that surprises you (or even makes you scratch your head). Which is part of the fun.

The list, released to the Associated Press, was compiled by cable's TV Land network and Entertainment Weekly magazine.

It's the source of a two-hour TV Land special airing Friday at 8 p.m. EST (and is also featured in the issue of Entertainment Weekly appearing on newsstands the same day). The special counts down from Larry Hagman (No. 50) to Carson, with mini-profiles of each "icon" in turn.

But what's a "TV icon" anyway?

Someone who "jumps off the screen into your home," says Henry Winkler, who is ranked 32nd, while Regis Philbin (No. 27) says, "If you hang around long enough, they call you an icon."

Along with human TV stars, the list contains a pooch (Lassie), a Muppet frog (Kermit), a cartoon dad (Homer Simpson) and a full-blown comedy troupe (the original Not Ready for Primetime Players from "Saturday Night Live").

There's one "Friend" (Jennifer Aniston) and two current late-night hosts (David Letterman and Jon Stewart made the cut, but Carson's successor, Jay Leno, did not). TV comedy trailblazer Milton Berle is on the list, though not his contemporary, Sid Caesar.

Of course, maybe you've got your own ideas. During the broadcast, you'll be invited to text-message your choice for the No. 1 "TV icon," with the audience consensus revealed at show's end.

Here are "The 50 Greatest TV Icons":

50. Larry Hagman

49. Calista Flockhart

48. Jimmy Smits

47. Simon Cowell

46. Lassie

45. Sarah Michelle Gellar

44. Susan Lucci

43. Flip Wilson

42. James Gandolfini

41. Jon Stewart

40. Sally Field

39. Jennifer Aniston

38. Bea Arthur

37. George Clooney

36. Diahann Carroll

35. Michael J. Fox

34. Bob Barker

33. Ellen DeGeneres

32. Henry Winkler

31. Sarah Jessica Parker

30. Alan Alda

29. John Ritter

28. Howard Cosell

27. Regis Philbin

26. Farrah Fawcett

25. Heather Locklear

24. Michael Landon

23. Barbara Walters

22. Milton Berle

21. Kermit

20. Carroll O'Connor

19. Andy Griffith

18. William Shatner

17. Bob Newhart

16. David Letterman

15. "Not Ready for Primetime Players"

14. Ed Sullivan

13. Jackie Gleason

12. Dick Van Dyke

11. Roseanne

10. Dick Clark

9. Homer Simpson

8. Jerry Seinfeld

7. Mary Tyler Moore

6. Carol Burnett

5. Walter Cronkite

4. Bill Cosby

3. Oprah Winfrey

2. Lucille Ball

1. Johnny Carson