During her career, Joan Rivers forms a relationship with The Tonight Show‘s Johnny Carson that helps her rise. Later in Joan’s life, she took a gig hosting a competing talk show, and this decision caught Johnny’s ire. The two begin a feud that lasts until Johnny’s death. With Joan claiming that the reason, Johnny is so incensed that he considers her to be his own personal property! Joan is aging, she comes with the unexpected revelation that she and Johnny are intimate on at least one occasion. Join Facts Verse as we explore how Joan Rivers slept with the man she hated most.
For more than two decades, Joan Rivers and Johnny Carson seemed like the closest of friends. Several years of struggling on the underground comedy scene as a female comedian is a rarity back in those days. Joan rises to fame thanks to Johnny taking a chance on her on his popular program, The Tonight Show. Johnny is a big hand in allowing Joan to achieve the success that she did. But perhaps he comes to feel he deserves a little more credit than he really did.
Joan Rivers was born in 1933 and aspired to be a dramatic actress during her young adulthood. While she continued acting well into her adult years, she turned to standup comedy in order to pay the bills. Though young Joan makes enough money, she finds herself treading water in the underground comedy scene throughout her 20s. It wasn’t until Johnny Carson invited her on The Tonight Show in 1965 that Joan finally caught her big break.
Joan performs on The Tonight Show once before, though before it hosts by Johnny Carson. The performance had gone exceptionally terrible, and by some accounts, even put a damper on Joan’s fledgling career. However, her second appearance on the program proves to be the jolt the young comedian needs to find mainstream success.
Joan Rivers was 31 years old when she first appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. She appears on the show during Jack Paar’s tenure as host, though her first appearance alongside Johnny proves more successful. The appearance occurred in February of 1965. Joan receives a chance to converse with Johnny as a guest, and their chemistry instantly resonated with the audience.
Johnny predicts on his show that Joan Rivers is going to become a star – and he sure is right! Sadly, the pair’s relationship ended up souring many years after this occurred. After the success of Joan’s initial appearance, she hires for a time as a writer on The Tonight Show. She also began making further high-profile appearances on both The Tonight Show and other television programs. All the while, she continued practicing her unique standup comedy.
Joan appears on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson nearly 100 times in her career. In addition to being a writer on the show for a period of time. In 1968, Joan Rivers gets a daytime talk show, and Johnny Carson is the show’s first notable guest! The show isn’t a success, though Joan’s success on daytime television decades later, starting her and Carson’s infamous feud.
Joan’s appearances on The Tonight Show are as a guest, there are times that make her the guest host. When Johnny isn’t working, Joan brings in to replace him when need is, establishing the chemistry with the show’s audience. Then Joan considers herself to be suitable when it comes to NBC to replace Johnny as the show’s permanent host. However, this turned out to be untrue.
As Joan’s fame increased, so did her opportunities in the entertainment industry. According to the late comedian, she receives offers during her days working as a guest host on The Tonight Show. Just to host her own program for competing networks. However, she always turned down the offers out of respect for Johnny Carson. That is until Joan reached her breaking point with the network. Joan realizes that she isn’t considering permanently replacing Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in the eyes of NBC. She decides to accept a competing offer.
Joan isn’t the first Johnny hosting a show on a competing network, but the first woman to do so. According to her, this is the reason why Johnny takes it personally when Joan accepts a job hosting her own late-night talk show on the burgeoning Fox Broadcasting Company’s television networks. The show was simply titled The Late Show and premiered in October of 1986. Immediately, Johnny Carson became irate and began causing problems for the program.
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Although Joan gets her big break performing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, they are friends to the public. Over the two decades that they maintain a professional relationship, it appears that their chemistry builds for the show’s viewers. It seems as if Joan never knows Johnny that well during the time they work together on The Tonight Show. For his part, his interest in viewing Joan Rivers as more than property, at least according to the comedian herself. The two still apparently had intimate relations on at least one occasion.
The Fox Broadcasting Company begins looking for noteworthy new content to fill their burgeoning television networks across the United States. They saw obvious potential in Joan Rivers as the host of a new late-night program to compete with NBC. Given that Joan’s relationship with executives at the network had soured, she was a prime candidate to be picked up by the competition. The company offered Joan a sum of $10 million to begin filming her own show for their networks. Additionally, they allowed Joan’s then-husband, Edgar Rosenberg, to come onto the show’s creative staff as a producer.
According to Joan, she keeps her deal with the Fox Broadcasting Company a secret from Johnny Carson due to the fact that she didn’t want to say anything about it until it finalizes. However, rumors began spreading before the show hit the air, and Johnny ended up finding out from a source besides Joan. This is perhaps part of the reason that Johnny took Joan’s new gig on her competing late-night program so personally when under different circumstances, he had expressed well wishes towards former friends-turned-competitors in the past.
Joan claimed that she tried to call Johnny Carson to talk to him personally about the matter, and he hung up on her as soon as he answered. However, Johnny claimed that Joan never called at all. Regardless of who was right and who was wrong, the two maintained a feud that was never resolved by the time the first of the two died in 2005. By the time of Johnny’s 2005 death, he and Joan had not spoken in nearly two decades. Joan talked poorly about the man up until his death and continued to do so afterward. Not only had she lost a personal friend and mentor, but Johnny had also done everything in his power to sabotage her professionally.
The Late Show was a failure for the Fox Broadcasting Company, thanks in no small part to Joan and Johnny’s infamous feud. Johnny made it known that anyone who appeared on Joan’s program as a guest was never again allowed on his, and this made it so that The Late Show had an incredibly hard time getting anyone of note to show up. The show was eventually canceled, though that didn’t end Joan and Johnny’s feud. After Johnny Carson left The Tonight Show, Jay Leno came on as his permanent replacement. Jay refused to let Joan onto The Tonight Show out of respect for Johnny Carson, meaning that Joan was prevented from returning to the program that had made her a star until shortly before her death.
Joan Rivers eventually found continued career success in the 1990s and beyond, despite the failure of The Late Show and the fact that she was barred from performing on The Tonight Show. She began hosting a daytime talk show by the name of The Joan Rivers Show in 1989, and the program allowed her to finally become a successful host in her own right. The comedian retained celebrity status in the years leading up to her 2014 death, and it was with open arms that the audience received her return to The Tonight Show.
After Jay Leno finally retired in February of 2014, Saturday Night Live alum Jimmy Fallon was brought on to take his place. Though Jimmy had plenty of respect for the late Johnny Carson, he also had plenty of admiration for Joan Rivers. He was the one who finally allowed Joan to make her highly anticipated return to the program that had made her a star so many decades before. In September of that same year, the beloved female comedian died from complications related to throat surgery at the age of 81.
Joan Rivers may have grown to hate Johnny Carson more than any other man alive after he made the decision to scorn her both personally and professionally in the 1980s, but she still had to live with the memory of sleeping with him during their friendship! Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Joan Rivers slept with Johnny Carson while the two were working together on The Tonight Show, or did you think that their relationship had been entirely professional? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!