Joan Rivers Vs. Johnny Carson: Their Late Night Feud
Joan Rivers once recalled her relationship with the man who made her a star, Tonight Show legend Johnny Carson, saying, "It was magical between the two of us, absolutely magical. On the air, Carson said to me, ‘You're going to be a star.' I looked behind me, who the Hell was he talking to?"
She even became Carson’s permanent late night guest host, but sadly, their magical friendship was shattered forever when she took a job hosting her own late night show on the rival Fox network in 1987.
Henry Bushkin was Johnny Carson’s longtime lawyer and the author of the bestselling book about the legendary king of late night. He remembers breaking the news about her show to Carson.
He told INSIDE EDITION, "I was right in the middle of it! I called him. He listened to the various stations, news stations. He was totally upset by it."
INSIDE EDITION’s Les Trent asked, "Why was Johnny so mad at Joan?"
Bushkin said, "He felt betrayed. I think he felt she should have told him. If she did tell him in advance, he would have wished her well."
But according to Joan, she did go to Carson first.
She said, "The first person I called was Johnny Carson. He slammed the phone down, slammed it down again, and never spoke to me again, ever!"
Larry King was friendly with both Joan and Carson. He told INSIDE EDITION, "It ended poorly. Joan would, 'He won't take my call.' He never commented."
Incredibly, The Tonight Show ban on Joan Rivers lasted for 27 years, straight through the reign of Jay Leno. The ban finally came to an end on Jimmy Fallon's first night on the job last February and the crowd went wild when she appeared.
The next day, she gave single-digit regards to Leno and flipped him the bird.
Jimmy Fallon fought back tears Thursday night, recalling her triumphant return to The Tonight Show, saying, "She came over to me, she stared crying, she gave me a kiss. It was really emotional."
It was a major victory for Joan Rivers and a bittersweet reminder of her broken friendship with Johnny Carson.
Bushkin said, "I would hope they would have reconciled at some point, but they never did."