October 1, 1962-May 22, 1992.
Johnny Carson, host of NBC's network late-night "Tonight Show" reigned for 30 unprecedented years...five times the combined tenure of Steve Allen, and Jack Paar. Carson was impervious to competition, including efforts to dethrone him by Les Crane, Joey Bishop, Merv Griffin, Dick Cavett, Jack Paar, Pat Sajak, Joan Rivers, and Arsenio Hall. Sadly, very few complete "Tonight Show" broadcasts survive during Johnny Carson's first ten years of broadcasting. Around 1965, through the early 1970's, oldest tapes were first erased systematically by orders from myopic NBC executives, to be recycled for purposes of saving money. Ironically, in many cases, these older master tapes were too brittle, and portended probable drop-outs for re-use after being erased. Subsequently blank after being erased, these older questionable master 2" Quad tapes were either sparingly used or never used again for recording new programming and eventually were discarded. Saving thousands of dollars at the time (wiping master tapes for potential re-use) resulted in losing millions of dollars by NBC in today's marketplace, and more importantly wiping thousands of historic TONIGHT SHOW broadcasts, which contain precious personal anecdotes from political, show business, and sports icons of the past.