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The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson is the iteration of The Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson from 1962 to 1992. Ed McMahon served as Carson's sidekick and the show's announcer; Doc Severinsen served as bandleader for the show's house band, the NBC Orchestra.

Jim Henson and the Muppets made many appearances throughout the years, Grover performed "Near and Far" for the first time in 1970, and Kermit the Frog even guest hosted the program for Carson in 1979.


Image Description
September 6, 1965

Kermit appears, along with Bill Cosby.[1]

November 23, 1965

Kermit features in a Thanksgiving-related appearance.[2]


December 31, 1965

Two sketches were performed. In one a Whatnot continually knocks at bandleader Skitch Henderson's door as he gets drunk and sings "Let Me In". Immediately afterward, Kermit performed "The Glow-Worm" sketch with Big V. This episode was released on the DVD, TONIGHT: 4 Decades of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

January 13, 1966

Performed "Money" and "Sclrap Flyapp."[3]


Limbo: The Organized Mind.[4]

August 1968

"Visual Thinking" and "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face"[5]

October 29, 1968

Performed "Beautiful Day."[6]

September 26, 1969

Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Don Sahlin, and Danny Seagren perform The Glow-Worm (with Kermit and Big V) and Sclrap Flyap. (This was the tenth Muppet appearance on The Tonight Show.)[7]


Grover performs "Near and Far."[8]

Hensonkerm ttswjc
January 23, 1974

Jim Henson and Dave Goelz perform Limbo: The Organized Mind; Jim and Kermit are interviewed by Johnny Carson, and Kermit sings "Bein' Green".

Piggy Tonight Show

Tonight Show 1974-05-24 Kermit Jim
May 24, 1974

Frank Oz and Jim Henson puppeteer Piggy Lee and Hamilton Pig, who perform "That Old Black Magic", Kermit and Grump perform "Visual Thinking", and Henson discusses his art of Muppetry.[9] The performance is notable as Miss Piggy's first appearance, which was later cut from repackaged versions of the episode.

Ttswjc jh dt March18th1975
March 18, 1975

Dr. Teeth sings "Love Ya to Death"; Jim and Kermit are interviewed to promote The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence. (YouTube)

Jh ttswjc 70s

Ttswjc jh dt July25th1975

Kermit tonight show 75 yorick
July 25, 1975

Kermit the Frog (in a wig) and Yorick sing "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" and Jim Henson discusses the art of puppetry with the help of Dr. Teeth. Henson explains that he cannot perform Kermit because he has a cold, so Dr. Teeth sings his own rendition of "Bein' Green".

Johhny carson
September 14, 1976

Jim Henson and Frank Oz perform a live sketch with the Swedish Chef, followed by a short interview with Kermit and Fozzie Bear. Jim Henson talks about his new series, The Muppet Show. He shows a clip of the "Rag Mop" number, with behind the scenes footage showing the puppeteers performing the Raggmopps. (YouTube)

Tonight Show 1977-09-13a

Tonight Show 1977-09-13b

Tonight Show 1977-09-13c
September 13, 1977

Kermit sings "Happy Feet". Jim discusses the second season of The Muppet Show, showing a full clip of "Pigs in Space" from episode 209. Carson does a short interview with Link Hogthrob.


Kermit tonight show price
April 2, 1979

Kermit the Frog guest hosts, with guests Vincent Price, Bernadette Peters, Leo Sayer, and veterinarian Dr. Michael Fox. (partial transcript)

July 12, 1984

Johnny Carson interviews Miss Piggy to promote The Muppets Take Manhattan. A clip is shown from the department store scene with Joan Rivers. Piggy sings "My Funny Valentine" to Carson.

April 17, 1989

Jim Henson and Kermit promote The Jim Henson Hour with guest host Jay Leno. A clip of Jacques Roach is shown. Other guests included Loretta Lynn and Tom Brokaw.


  • November 2, 1979: During a monologue piece about Sweeps Week, Carson mentions an upcoming episode of The Muppet Show where "Miss Piggy exposes her loins."
  • March 3, 1982: The first joke told during the Carnac the Magnificent segment was "Kermit the Frog, Donald Duck, and Minnie Pearl," which was the answer to "Name three entertainers who know more about foreign policy than Ed Asner."[10]
  • February 19, 1992: In the final appearance of Carnac the Magnificent, the last joke was "Green Acres," which was the answer to "What would Kermit the Frog be holding if you kicked him in the wrong place?"[11]



Spoofing Johnny Carson's famous set in the 1983 calendar The Muppets Look at TV.


Baby Piggy on the Johnny Carson show.

  • In Episode 0560 of Sesame Street, Big Bird hosts a show that opens with an offshoot of Carson's famous theme music. He asks for a music cue from "Skitch," referencing Skitch Henderson (bandleader during Steve Allen's tenure, and then with Carson from 1962 until 1966).
  • The Sesame Street video, Learning About Numbers, has a framing story with Big Bird hosting a Tonight Show-esque program. He at one point calls out "Tommy" in the band, referring to Tommy Newsom, saxophone player for the band and occasional band director and substitute for Ed McMahon.
  • Frequent guest host Jay Leno appeared in a Sesame Street skit with Big Bird. When Big Bird learns that his friend "Johnny" is unable to come play, Jay appears to sit-in for Johnny (something he says he loves doing). Leno fills Johnny's chair and the two play "One of These Things." Afterwards Big Bird remarks that "he really was good at sitting-in for Johnny."
  • In Episode 4025 of Sesame Street, Aladdin's Genie takes the day off. He poofs himself into a golfing outfit and exclaims, "Heeeere's Genie!" while swinging his club.
  • The Sesame Street sketch "Baby Talk," a talk show hosted by Natasha, featured two specific references to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The segment's theme, played by an all-baby band, was a spoof of "Johnny's Theme." The announcer (Jerry Nelson) also introduces the host saying "Heeeere's Natasha!"
  • Episode 4173 of Sesame Street featured two inserts in which Big Bird presents Snuffy (by saying "Heeeeeeeeere's Snuffy!"), followed by a short riff of "Johnny's Theme".


  1. ↑ Jim Henson's Red Book, 9/6/1965 – Tonight Show – Kermit with Bill Cosby.
  2. ↑ Jim Henson's Red Book 11/23/1965 – Tonight Show – Kermit w/J.Carson – Bomb about Thanksgiving.
  3. ↑ Jim Henson's Red Book, 1/13/1966 - Tonight Show - "Money" and "Sclrap Flyapp".
  4. ↑ Manhattan Research, Inc. liner notes by Karen Falk, page 62
  5. ↑ Jim Henson's Red Book 8/–/1968 – Carson Show – β€œVisual Thinking” and β€œAccustomed”
  6. ↑ Jim Henson's Red Book, 10/29/1968 – Tonight Show – "Beautiful Day".
  7. ↑ Jim Henson's Red Book, 9/26/1969 – Tonight Show – did "Glowworm" and "Sclrap Flyap"
  8. ↑ Sesame Street Unpaved page 50
  9. ↑ "The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson: Show #2088",
  10. ↑ (YouTube)
  11. ↑ (YouTube)

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