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Las Vegas Legends

Late Night Wars: Joan Rivers vs Johnny Carson
Late Night Wars: Joan Rivers vs Johnny Carson

"I said to my husband, 'Why don't you call out my name when we're making love?' He said, 'I don't want to wake you up.'" - Joan Rivers

It's no secret that Johnny Carson turned his back (personally and professionally) on Joan Rivers in 1986 after she announced she was going to host her own late night talk show on FOX that would compete with The Tonight Show. Since August of 1983, Rivers had been the first permanent guest host of the Tonight Show when Johnny was away.

In an article she wrote for People magazine, Rivers said that NBC offered her only a one-year contract in 1985 as permanent guest host. That made her nervous so she took FOX up on their offer of her own series, at a much salary higher than what NBC was paying.

In the documentary Johnny Carson: King of Late Night, Rivers said that she only called Johnny Carson to discuss the her new show after learning Carson was blindsided by the news when he saw the press conference on television. He immediately hung up on her.

October 9, 1986, with the first episode of The Late Show with Joan Rivers, she became the first woman to host a late night network television talk show. The show was broadcast live and only moderately successful, Rivers was eventually fired in May 1987. She remained a top draw on the Las Vegas Strip however.

“I’ve become the slut of the Strip,” she proclaimed in 1978. “I’ll work for anyone.” Joan Rivers headlined in Vegas for at least 43 years, since 1969, initially at Caesars Palace. She was co-billed at Caesars with stars like The Smothers Brothers, Diana Ross, Paul Anka, Garry Shandling and Ben Vereen from 1983 through 1991

Caesars Palace was the home base for the taping of her cable TV special, “Joan Rivers and Friends Salute Heidi Abromowitz,” in 1985.

This documentary highlights Joan Rivers' feud with Johnny Carson. Before the fallout, the two comics had quite a rapport when the cameras were rolling as you'll see.


 


 

In 1968, The New York Times television critic Jack Gould called Rivers "quite possibly the most intuitively funny woman alive".

“My husband says that as you get bigger you’re a bigger target. … When I was the outsider, everybody loved me, and now that I’m becoming a little bit of an insider, it’s all turned around.” — 1983, headlining Caesars after becoming Carson’s permanent guest host.

 

 

Stuff you might not find at other web sites - Vegas Legends collects obscure stories about the greatest entertainers of all time! With rare performances from the casino showrooms and from the world of Television.

Frank Sinatra

Dean Martin

Sammy Davis Jr Story

Dean Martin Live in Las Vegas

Frank Sinatra
with Dean Martin

Jerry Vale

Joan Rivers vs Johnny Carson

Angie Dickinson

Remembering Bobby Darin

Who Killed Elvis?

Viva Las Vegas!

Sammy Davis, Jr.

Elvis

Lola Falana

Don Rickles

Don Rickles' Last Show

Sonny & Cher

The Supremes

Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows

Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy

Louis Prima

Pat Cooper

Johnny Carson

Mort Lindsey

Liberace

Red Buttons

Donny & Marie Are Calling It Quits

Totie Fields

Phyllis Diller: An Appreciation

Steve Allen

Betty White on Don Rickles

Totie Fields

Phyllis Diller: An Appreciation

Steve Allen

Betty White on Don Rickles

Elvis' Background Singers

Wayne Newton

George Carlin

Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme

Redd Foxx

Las Vegas & The Mob

Henny Youngman

Rodney Dangerfield

How Las Vegas Has Changed Since the 1970s

How Las Vegas Has Changed Since the 1960s

More on How Las Vegas Has Changed Over the Years

Vegas Fashion

Joan Rivers

Las Vegas Postcards

BONUS: Garry Shandling in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Legends

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TVparty is Classic TV on the internet!
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