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The Tonight Show

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Muppettonightshow

Spoofing Johnny's famous set in the 1983 calendar The Muppets Look at TV.

The Tonight Show is a long-running American late-night talk and variety show airing on NBC, the third longest-running entertainment program in U.S. television history. The show's longest running hosts have been Johnny Carson (1962-1992) and Jay Leno (1992-on); other hosts include Steve Allen (1953-1957), Jack Paar (1957-1962) and Conan O'Brien (2009-2010).

The Muppets have a long affiliation with the program, dating back to 1956, when Jim and Jane Henson performed Kermit the Frog and Yorick singing "I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face". This was the first of several performances of Henson's variety show pieces, which continued into the late 1960s.

Henson made several appearances in the mid-70s promoting The Muppet Show, performing many of his new characters -- Dr. Teeth appeared on the program twice in 1975, the Swedish Chef in 1976, and Link Hogthrob in 1977. In September 1976, just before the Muppet Show's premiere, Kermit introduced Carson to standup comedian Fozzie Bear.

Kermit replaced Carson as the guest host on April 2, 1979, to promote the release of The Muppet Movie. The program essentially became a 90-minute Muppet special, with all of the Muppet characters appearing throughout the show to disrupt things as Kermit tried to interview his guests -- Vincent Price, Bernadette Peters, Leo Sayer and veterinarian Dr. Michael Fox. The show was punctuated with several Muppet musical numbers: two Slinky-shaped Muppets danced to "Java", Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem performed "New York State of Mind", Peters sang "Just One Person" with Robin the Frog, Miss Piggy performed a duet of "When I Need You" with Sayer, and Kermit closed the show with a quiet performance of "Bein' Green".

The Muppets' appearances on The Tonight Show continued in the 1980s, including a 1989 appearance to promote The Jim Henson Hour. In the 90s, host Jay Leno interviewed Kermit and Miss Piggy several times, with the Muppets appearing three times on the show in 1996.

Tonight! (1953–1957)

Steve Allen hosted the program from 1953 to 1957, though his hosting duties were decreased when Allen's new show The Steve Allen Show premiered in 1956. The show originated for local New York City television in its first year, but was picked up nationally by NBC in September 1954. Andy Williams was the resident singer.

Appearances

The Jack Paar Show (1957–1962)

Following Allen's departure, the series changed hosts with Jack Paar taking the reins. Though officially still called The Tonight Show, it was also marketed as The Jack Paar Show.

Appearances

  • November 1, 1957 - The Muppets appear

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962–1992)

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May 24, 1974

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July 25, 1975

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July 25, 1975

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May 24, 1974

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September 14, 1976

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Kermit guest hosting in 1979

Johnny Carson took over hosting with Ed McMahon as his sidekick. For all but a few months of its first decade on the air, Carson's show was based in New York City. In May 1972 the show moved to Burbank, California, (although it was announced as coming from nearby Hollywood) for the remainder of his tenure.

Kermit the Frog guest hosted the show for Johnny Carson in 1979, while Grover performed "Near and Far" for the first time on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show in the 1969-1970 season.

Appearances

(Note: this list is not all-inclusive, and may be missing appearances believed to be lost, or that occured on shows with guest hosts.)

References

  • A 2008 episode of Sesame Street featured two inserts in which Big Bird presents Snuffy (by saying "Heeeeeeeeere's Snuffy!"), followed by a short riff of "Johnny's Theme".
  • Frequent guest host Jay Leno appeared in a Sesame Street skit with Big Bird. When Big Bird learns that his friend "Johnny" is unable to come play, Jay appears to sit-in for Johnny (something he says he loves doing). Leno fills Johnny's chair and the two play "One of These Things." Afterwards Big Bird remarks that "he really was good at sitting-in for Johnny." (Sesamestreet.org)
  • The Sesame Street video, Learning About Numbers, has a framing story with Big Bird hosting a Tonight Show-esque program.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1992–2009, 2010–)

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TheTonightShow-MissPiggy&NotJayLenosKnee

Miss Piggy and not Jay Lenos knee.

TheTonightShow-JayLenoMissPiggyDesk

Miss Piggy complains to Jay Leno for not inviting her on The Tonight Show and Leno makes up by having her sit on his office desk. At the end of the show, (as seen in a web-exclusive video) Miss Piggy does not leave until she guest host the show.

TheTonightShow-MissPiggy-(2011-11-05)

Mickey Rourke gets to "touch it."

Johnny Carson retired in May 1992 and was replaced by Jay Leno. Kevin Eubanks was the bandleader for the program from 1995 until 2010, and was replaced by Rickey Minor.

Appearances

References

  • Leno and Eubanks appeared in "The Cameo Show" episode of Muppets Tonight. Leno volunteers to help out on the show, but Bobo turns him down because he doesn't recognize him as someone famous—however, he does recognize Eubanks (of whom he is a big fan).

Mentions

  • May 25, 2009 - Leno shows a sequence of clips with Mel Gibson, after which they comment at how young and good-looking they were. "In ten years time we'll be sitting here looking at this going 'hey, we looked real good!' We'll be looking like the hecklers on The Muppet Show or something."
  • October 3, 2011 - During "Headlines" Leno shows a newspaper article with a photo of the walk-around versions of Cookie Monster and Elmo checking out a newly renovated men's restroom.

The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien (2009–2010)

Mentions

  • September 18, 2009 - Conan shows a clip of Barack Obama's speech with clips of Statler and Waldorf heckling.
  • November 5, 2009 - Conan shows guest Jim Carrey a montage of clips from various A Christmas Carol adaptations to show Carrey that his 2009 film is not the first time the Dickens story has been made into a movie. The montage included clips from The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Connections

Video releases

Respond2 Entertainment released Tonight: 4 Decades From The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, a 15 DVD boxed set with the full length December 31, 1965 - Woody Allen, The Muppets episode on October 26, 2010.[7]

Sources

  1. "The Tonight Show: October 11, 1956", TV.com.
  2. Jim Henson's Red Book, 9/6/1965 – Tonight Show – Kermit with Bill Cosby.
  3. Jim Henson's Red Book, 1/13/1966 - Tonight Show - "Money" and "Sclrap Flyapp".
  4. Jim Henson's Red Book, 10/29/1968 – Tonight Show – "Beautiful Day".
  5. Jim Henson's Red Book, 9/26/1969 – Tonight Show – did "Glowworm" and "Sclrap Flyap"
  6. "The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson: Show #2088", TV.com.
  7. "TVshowonDVD.com Press Release"

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