He started performing early, his first show, at age 14, was for a local Kiwanis Club, where he debuted "The Great Carsoni".
Ensign John William Carson joined the U.S. Navy on June 8, 1943, where he was assigned tot he USS Pennsylvania as the communications officer and performed a magic trick for the US Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal.
After the war, Ensign Carson took advantage of the GI bill, attending the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Graduating with a bachelors in radio and speech, with the thesis, "How to Write Comedian Jokes".
He began his career at WOW radio, in Omaha, Nebraska in 1950, and by 1955, he had a CBS show titled "The Johnny Carson Show" and in 1962 became the host of the Tonight Show, a role he maintained until retirement in 1992.
While he never discussed his personal life or his politics, he actively supported the USO and created the Johnny Carson Foundation for children's health and education services. He also taught himself Swahili and loved Elvis.
He died on January 23, 2005. Ensign Carter's epigraph reads " I'll be right back".