Johnny Carson was getting bombed on Tanqueray and spilling his guts to his new young lawyer,Henry Bushkin. They were hanging out at a restaurant called Jilly’s, in New York, having only recently returned from the apartment that Carson’s second wife, Joanne, was apparently using as a love nest for an affair with Frank Gifford. Carson was paying for the apartment, so it’s understandable that he’d have been especially upset by this behavior from Joanne (not to be confused with Joanna, his third wife, or Jody, his first; none of these three would be his last). Carson had gone in packing a pistol, prepared for trouble, and even though he didn’t find trouble, exactly, what he found was plenty troublesome, and troubling.
Carson talked on, often lamentably, about a whole range of topics: Frank Sinatra (Jilly’s best customer); Joanne (“Maybe I drove her to it”); his kids (“I’m a shit […] I don’t see any of them”); Nebraska (“Bad weather […] Tough as nails, the people from Nebraska”); his mother (“There is no goddamn way to please that woman [...].My marriages f ailed because she fucked me up.”); Bushkin’s marriage (“[B]e careful because women will take anything they can.”); Bushkin’s missing Heineken (“Have a drink, Henry. I’m not finished yet.”); Carson’s mother again (“She deprived us all of any real goddamn warmth.”); smoking, drinking, sex, marriage (“I can’t quit smoking and I get drunk every night and I chase all the pussy I can get. I’m shitty in the marriage department”); Frank Gifford (“That guy plays three positions on the field. I could never get Joanne to go for more than two.”) Read the rest at the L.A. Review of Books