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Iowa History Daily: October 23 - Here's Johnny!

Iowa History Daily: On October 23, 1925, a Corning doctor may have been the first to quip ‘heeere’s Johnny,’ when the future late-night host was born in the Adams County town. “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” ran from 1962-1992, and starred the popular comedian and writer as host.

The second of three children born to Lloyd ‘Kit’ and Ruth Elizabeth Carson, Johnny lived in several southwestern Iowa towns during his childhood. Kit’s work as a power company manager brought the family for stays in the southwestern Iowa towns of Avoca, Clarinda, and Red Oak, in addition to Corning.

Ultimately, the Carson family moved to Norfolk, Nebraska, where Johnny first fell in love with performing after acquiring a mail-order magician’s kit. Starring in his own shows as “The Great Carsoni,” the future television host charged $3 a show. After high school, Carson joined the Navy and served as an ensign assigned to the USS Pennsylvania. During WW2 he posted a 10-0 amateur boxing record, performed a magic trick for the secretary of the Navy, and served his time.

After the service, the GI Bill paved the way for Carson to attend the University of Nebraska focusing on comedy writing, drama, and speech in the hopes of becoming a radio performer. When a job came along at WOW radio and television in Omaha, Carson continued a climb to the top. A series of successful roles and shows ultimately led to “The Tonight Show,” where Carson completed his climb from Corning to international fame. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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