LOS ANGELES, (AFP) - Johnny Carson, a pioneer of late night television comedy as the long-time host of NBC televisions Tonight Show, died on Sunday at the age of 79.
Carson, who stepped down as host of the Tonight Show in 1992, when he was replaced by current host Jay Leno, died of emphysema, NBC reported. He had been in poor health for several years and underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 1999.
Carson interviewed scores of actors, singers, politicians and other celebrities during his years on the ground-breaking NBC broadcast including John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Muhammad Ali, Richard Nixon, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland.
A number of comedians, including Jerry Seinfeld, got their start appearing on the Tonight Show.
Carsons final guests were singer Bette Midler and comedian Robin Williams. His last show was seen by 50 million viewers across the United States, according to NBC.
Carson had hosted the Tonight Show since 1962, when he replaced Jack Paar.
Carsons 10minute opening monologues, which were preceded by announcers Ed McMahons cry of Heeeerreees Johnny! set the standard for late night comedy.
Carson was inducted into Television Hall of Fame in 1987 and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992.
John William Carson was born Oct. …