A new tell-all memoir from Johnny Carson’s former lawyer describes the night Carson broke into his wife’s love nest to find that she had been sleeping with legendary New York Giants player Frank Gifford.
The book, exclusively excerpted in Entertainment Weekly, reveals a sappier side of the late-night icon. Suspicious that his wife Joanne was cheating on him, Carson and some of his cronies, including his brand-new lawyer and now-author Henry Bushkin, broke into her secret apartment to look for proof. And they found it: lingerie, photos of Gifford, and even furniture from Carson’s own home.
Crushed by the overwhelming amount of evidence, Carson leaned against the living room wall and began to weep. It was a painfully uncomfortable moment. Arthur busied himself taking photos of the premises, while the rest of us tried to look away and give Johnny his privacy. It was, however, a small space, and I couldn’t always keep my eyes away. During one of those glances, I could see that Carson’s raincoat had fallen open. I was shocked to see that Johnny was carrying a .38 revolver in a holster on his hip. Mullen, seeing what I saw, shot me a look that warned, Don’t say a f—ing word, and then he quietly flipped the framed pictures of Gifford on the windowsill so that their backs faced the room.
But according to Bushkin’s memoir, Carson bounced back quickly.
“Why Frank Gifford?” he asked. “What’s that a–hole got that I don’t have?” I wasn’t sure where he was going with this but maybe nowhere good. The mood appeared to be swinging back. “That guy plays three positions on the field,” he said. “I could never get Joanne to go for more than two.” His deadpan timing was perfect. I nearly fell off my stool laughing. He was smiling appreciatively. “I think I’ll use that line in tomorrow’s monologue.”