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The Night Johnny Carson Found Out His Wife Was Banging Frank Gifford

Illustration for article titled The Night Johnny Carson Found Out His Wife Was Banging Frank Gifford

Tucked inside the Hunger Games promotional pamphlet that was last week's issue of Entertainment Weekly was a rather amazing book excerpt from Henry Bushkin, lawyer to the late Johnny Carson. In the excerpt (not yet online), Bushkin describes accompanying Carson on a late night break-in of his second wife's apartment—an apartment she had leased without Carson's knowledge. "I have reason to believe my wife is cheating on me," Carson told Bushkin. "I also have an idea who the son of a bitch is that she's shacking up with."


Turns out, that son of a bitch was none other than former MNF announcer and flight attendant enthusiast Frank Gifford. During the break-in, Carson and Bushkin found that Carson's wife, Joanne Copeland, kept "six or seven framed photographs" of Gifford in the secret apartment. According to Bushkin, Carson did not take the news well:

Carson leaned against the living room wall and began to weep. [...] 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.

Later that night, a shitfaced Carson phoned Bushkin at 2 a.m. and demanded that he come meet him at a nearby bar (Ed McMahon was also there!) to lament the failure of second marriage. "I get drunk every night and I chase all the pussy I can get," Carson said, in Bushkin's recollection. "I'm shitty in the marriage department. Make sure you understand this."

But Carson being Carson, he couldn't resist a joke about the identity of his cuckold: "Why Frank Gifford? What's that asshole got that I don't have? That guy plays three positions on the field. I could never get Joanne to go for more than two."

Bushkin noted that Carson left the bar that night with another woman who "as nearly as famous" as he was. Old Hollywood was awesome.