"A Hard Act to Follow," is a non-fiction literary account of Henry Bushkin's tenure as Johnny Carson's lawyer, business partner, and friend. The book gives genuine insight into the 'Carson behind Johnny' with candid personal vignettes about the two, during the rollicking years when Johnny was the undisputed king of television. This is an engaging, eye-opening, anecdote-packed story about a young lawyer and his client, one of the biggest celebrities in the country. This funny, unfiltered account gives readers a look at the Johnny Carson that none but a select few really knew.
“A Hard Act to Follow” by Henry Bushkin provides a stirring account into Johnny Carson’s world—as told by Carson’s closest confidant.
The New Yorker article by Kenneth Tynan from 1978, included the following question and answer:
Tynan: When you’re at home, whom do you entertain?
Carson: My lawyer, Henry Bushkin, who’s probably my best friend.
Praise for the Book
"I loved the book." ~Wayne Newton
"Henry was Johnny's closest friend for many years which becomes clear through many of the wonderful chapters of the book." ~Bob Trapenberg
"The book is full of tough love, humor, cultural history, sadness, humor, love, loss, well I guess I am saying it is full of life." ~Rupert Garcia
" Henry's portrayal of Johnny was spot on. I highly recommend this book which is the closest the reader will ever get to know the real Carson." ~ Ed Weinberger, former Tonight Show writer and Producer for Carson Productions
"A beautifully easy read that pulls you in to an effortless journey through Johnny Carson’s effortful life. The glamour the fellow celebrities behind the curtain, the loyalties, and the betrayals. It certainly provides new insight on decisions and the lives that are behind the scenes." ~Kathy Davis, Kathy Takes on Books
""I have read this book and it is FAB! If you love reading about celebrities, this is awesome. It is also a great memoir as well. I am a huge memoir fan so this one was a real treat and one of the best I have read in this genre in a long time" ~Mary, Bookhounds Blog
"Bushkin's easy, unpretentious style allows the reader to be a fly on the wall as this inside story plays out in the rarified air on which Johnny thrived. "A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW" is a must read whether you grew up on Johnny or never heard of him. And then there are the supporting characters -- from the Rat Pack to Johnny's Ice Queen mother ranging around the pages disturbing the peace. I read it straight through in 90 minutes and was left wanting more." ~Sandy Ignon, Screenwriter (RANSOM).
"The tales are epic in nature and stretch from the first page to the last. “A Hard Act to Follow” is an honest appraisal of Carson and shows his dark side. In this, Bushkin strikes the right blend of salacious detail with an appropriate dose of discretion. Sure, you’ll learn more detail about Carson’s marriages-- in a tasteful way. Bushkin will leave you wanting more. Great books will do that." ~Barry Mordis, Senior VP at Merryl-Lynch
"No one would describe Johnny as easy going-there was an edge to him that Bushkin always managed to soften. He continues to do that in this book. There was that challenging side of Johnny which is also captured in the book. Henry was Johnny's closest friend for many years which becomes clear through many of the wonderful chapters of the book. All in all a great book to read." ~Bob Trapenberg, Johnny's former Tennis Pro.
A few years later, Johnny sent his parents around the world on a cruise to mark one of their wedding anniversaries. It was a forty- seven-day trip, with all accommodations entirely first class. Johnny even gave them an American Express card to cover anything they wanted to buy. “Dad,” he said “use the card for everything you buy on the trip. It’s all on me.’’ A lot of us fantasize about being able to give our parents a gift as wonderful.
Johnny never heard from them during the trip. Every few days he would bring up the fact that they had not called. “Can you believe it? Not a goddamn word. I send them on a trip of a lifetime and they don’t call. ‘This continued on for the month and a half that they were gone.
Johnny knew exactly when they would be arriving back in Scotts- dale. Days passed, and he still hadn’t heard from them. Furious at their lack of fundamental courtesy, he finally called them. His dad answered. “How was the trip?” Johnny asked.
“Hold on, son,’’ his father responded blandly. “I’ll get your mother on the line.”
“All she said when she picked up the phone,’’ Johnny reported later, “was ‘Well, son, we are so happy to be home.’ That was it! No talk about the sights they saw, no comments on the food or rooms, no comments even about the weather! And certainly no thanks!’’ As before, Johnny laughed at his mother’s rudeness, but he didn’t really find it funny.
Another time, Johnny sent his mother a mink coat for her birth- day. This time mom called to say she was sending it back.“It’s too fancy for Nebraska,” she explained, adding that better than a fur coat would be spending the winter in a warmer climate.”That led to Johnny buying his folks a home in Scottsdale, Arizona. It would be nice to say that this made Ruth happy, but nothing did.The best that can be said is that she and Homer moved there, and that she didn’t complain.
Name 10 dead people you wish you had known.
1. Winston Churchill
3. John F Kennedy
4. Lucille Ball
5. Marilyn Monroe
6. Julius Caesar
7. Abraham Lincoln
8. Martin Luther King Jr
9. Mickey Mantle
10. Charlie Chaplin
Author Henry Bushkin
Henry Bushkin is an experienced lawyer who practices in both California and New York. He currently lives in Los Angeles where his children also reside.
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