Johnny Carson.

Bill Zehme’s Long-Awaited Johnny Carson Book, “Carson the Magnificent,” Is Finally Hitting Stores In November

Johnny Carson.
Johnny Carson on the 'Tonight Show' in the 1970s. Courtesy of NBC.

In 2005, famed author/journalist Bill Zehme - best known for his epic celebrity profiles in Rolling Stone and Esquire, and writing definitive books on Frank Sinatra and Andy Kaufman - started work on his biggest project yet; chronicling the life of Johnny Carson

The book was a massive undertaking that served as a narrative for Carson’s life both before, during, and after The Tonight Show. Since Zehme was the last person to ever interview Carson in 2002 for an Esquire profile, the pairing up made total sense. 

Sadly, the project was sidetracked in 2013 by Zehme’s cancer diagnosis. Sadly, he never returned to the manuscript before he passed away in March 2023. For years, the Carson book sat there, unfinished.

What's happening next with Bill Zehme's Johnny Carson book?

Yesterday, an answer to the question of “Will it ever see the light of day?” came our way. Simon & Schuster announced that the book - Carson the Magnificent - would finally be released in November. The book was completed by Mike Thomas, who was Zehme’s longtime researcher and published his own book on Phil Hartman, You Might Remember Me

For comedy fans, this book is going to be essential reading. From a personal perspective, I know this because I spent the last 7 years of Zehme’s life serving as his researcher/overall assistant. This book is going to satisfy everyone who has been waiting nearly 20 years to hold it in their hands, guaranteed! It’s great to see we’ll finally get to all enjoy Zehme’s opus on Carson’s genius.

Bill Zehme's Carson the Magnificent hits bookstores November 5th, 2024. Fans can pre-order the book here!

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