Readers looking for a Johnny Carson biography that covers his whole life will be disappointed with JohnnyCarson by Henry Bushkin. The book was written by Bushkin, Carson’s lawyer from the seventies until the late eighties, and focuses almost exclusively on those years. That being said, I still found the book very enjoyable.
Bushkin was an unknown lawyer when he was recommended to Carson by one of Carson’s associates. In agreeing to work for Carson, Bushkin devoted most of his time practicing law to him and was soon playing tennis and vacationing with Carson and whatever wife or girlfriend he was with at the time. A lot of Carson’s less than stellar behavior is documented in the book, but Johnny Carson is not a hatchet job. There are some odd accusations leveled, such as Bushkin’s claim that Carson’s womanizing ways rubbed off on him and caused his marriage to break up. Buskin is more successful when he tries to figure out what made Carson behave so badly at times.
Carson is in some ways as interesting for its depiction of what life is like for someone in a celebrity’s inner circle as it is for the stories Bushkin tells about Carson. While Bushkin obviously knows he is Carson’s lawyer and later on his partner in a number of successful business ventures, he seems unclear for much of the book whether Carson considers him a friend or if Bushkin considers himself a friend of Carson’s. This question is what ties the book together and moves Carson beyond the airing of yet another celebrity’s dirty laundry.