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Desks & Office Furniture
Johnny Carson Desk - Among the props used by Johnny Carson on the late night talk show THE TONIGHT SHOW/NBC/1962-93, the most notable was his desk.

Johhny Carson Desk - The TONIGHT SHOW

For close to thirty years, Johnny took command of his show at the bow of this ubiquitous piece of furniture. When a joke didn't go over he often grabbed for his large desk microphone or overhead boom mike and ask "Is this on?"

 It was from the desk that Johnny would rib his partner/cohost Ed MacMahon (a.k.a. "Mr. Budweiser") with such quips as "Ed had his fingers broken last night. The doorman stepped on them as he was coming home."

The standard props on the desk included, two-headed pencils, microphone, cigarette box, lighter and a drinking mug with a youthful portrait of Johnny on it.

The pencils had erasers on both ends and Johnny often played with them like set of drummer's sticks.

The wooden cigarette box used often by Carson was brought from New York to California. Once when Don Rickles cohosted for him, the box broke-it fell apart on the air. When Johnny discovered the damaged box, he stormed across the hall into another studio where Rickles was filming his sitcom CPO SHARKEY/NBC/1976-78 and chastised him on-the-air then returned to his own show.

Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson - THE TONIGHT SHOW
Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson at Tonight Show Desk

A number of times Johnny's desk was trashed for stunts and gags (actually a balsa wood replica). Johnny as Carnac the Magnificent once stumbled onto the desk, totally demolishing it.

Other participants in "furnicide" included a samurai warrior who hacked apart Johnny's desk in 1980 during a sketch about NBC's miniseries "Shogun"; Steve Martin once blew the desk up one night with dynamite; and when Johnny placed a thirty-pound fruit cake on top of the desk, it crashed right through it.

And once when Johnny's set got new carpeting with an outlandish pattern of bright red and black swirls, the following evening, Johnny's whole desk was carpeted with the gaudy design.

The desk was such a part of what Johnny was all about that when he visited LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN as a guest, Johnny brought along his own collapsible brown replica of his desk to sit behind.

'The Tonight Show' Desk Circa 1974-81

Tonight Show Desk Circa 1974-81
"Click Image to Enlarge"

Another often used fixture on the desk was the drinking mug with a photograph of a very young Johnny Carson on the side of the mug (changed to a more mature image in 1991).

The tan and brown ironstone beverage container was designed and exclusively manufactured for the TONIGHT SHOW by the Burbank Mug Shop run by Robert and Alma Olney.

The now famous mug was first acquired in 1974 by Jack Grant, the Prop Master for the show when he visited the shop and asked if the proprietors could apply a photograph of Johnny Carson on the mug.

The photographs are applied by placing a water-soaked decal to the side of the mug and then firing it in a kiln.

Approximately 500 mugs were made since 1974. The Olney's also made the guest mugs which read "Guest No. 1" and "Guest No. 2" and a mug with the name "ED" on it for sidekick Ed McMahon.

The contents of what was in the mug was often questioned (actually apple juice) Johnny once remarked that the stuff in Ed's cup could "take chrome off a trailer hitch."

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