In lieu of recent passing of Television great Johnny Carson, we, Gen-Xers, BabyBoomers, and older generation are vividly being slapped into a dramatic reality-check. It's not alone that we grew up with late-night superstar, but it is also fact that he inadvertantly shaped our exaggerated perception of immortality.
An icon to masses for over three decades, Carson defined way we viewed world around us through comical antics. His diverse guests ranged from Cher, to David Lee Roth, Roseanne Barr, Jerry Seinfeld, and even Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens). As we matured, The Tonight Show host shared satirical wisdom about politics, family and life in general.
Whether he played host to monkeys and leaopards, or superstar celebrities; Johnny Carson entered our living rooms and dens each night with a larger-than-life improvisation of humanistic character. Not all of us were avid fans of Carson, but most of us held great respect for a man with such candor and sincerity in public eye.
When he left Tonight Show in 1991, people everywhere were stunned by his retirement. But like so many of us, he wanted to leave a lasting impression that would virtually immortalize his existence - and that, he did. Without a whimper, without a bang, Johnny Carson left stage quietly and was seldom seen or heard again. Our final, visual impression of him was that of an mature, but healthy, witty gentleman. We forgot about his human, or mortal side. We didn't remember his notorious marriages, and we certainly didn't personally know 'man' - Johnny Carson. We knew him for that 1/2-1 hour show each night as he so graciously beseeched us with his bravado. As personal friends now (who knew Mr. Carson) retell stories of his utter shyness, Mr. Carson was as human as we come.
Suddenly, without a glimpse of his real, personal life, TV legend has been shockingly stripped from our lives. Yes, we can watch his eternally-capsulated shows on DVD, or VHS but now it's distinctly 'different.' Our own human minds have created an illusion of eternal life. By virtue of example of Mr. Johnny Carson, we've unintentionally led ourselves to believe that man can be an immortal, physical species.
And it is when those thoughts or ideas are quickly placed back into perspective, that we realize physical immortality is not case at all. It wasn't that stars like Johnny Carson, Bob Hope and many others like them did this to us on purpose - in fact, it is our own thinking that deceives us so willingly. Because we live in a technological age, media has composed an elaborate scene of false perceptions. In doing so, we see our public figures day in and day out - whether it be television news, films, radio, or like - their presence is always there.