Famous Friends Remember Johnny Carson

Following are reactions to the death of Johnny Carson:

Joan Rivers, comedian, on so many comics getting a start on "The Tonight Show" -- speaking on "Good Morning America":

"I was a girl writer. Nobody thought I would be funny. They brought me on as a girl writer on the air. Johnny said, 'You're going to be a star.' He loved comedians. Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Woody Allen, Dick Cavett ... We all were there because of him.

Rivers, on her 1983 fallout with Carson -- on "Good Morning America":

"Nobody told me the rules. My contract hadn't been renewed because they figured I would never leave. It was one of those not-so-wonderful network stories. Fox came and offered immediately my own show. He was the first one I called when I signed the deal. ... He hung up on me. ... [Rivers tried more times with no success] And that upset me because I wouldn't be here talking to you without him."

Steve Martin, comedian -- written statement:

"All of us who grew up on Johnny Carson had three decades in which to go to sleep with a smile on our faces. He loved to laugh, he loved to make you laugh, and he loved comedians and entertainers. His occasional touch of boyish naughtiness made America a sweet and kind place to be, and he without doubt enriched our nation."

Billy Crystal, comedian -- written statement:

"He was the greatest talk show host of our time with the quickest mind. ... One of the greatest thrills of my career was not on stage but when Johnny called me after seeing me host the Oscars and telling me how much he loved what I did. That's how much I looked up to him. He was a true idol."

Ed McMahon, "Tonight Show" sidekick -- written statement:

"Johnny Carson was a man I considered like a brother to me. Our 34 years of working together, plus the 12 years since then, created a friendship which was professional, family-like and one of respect and great admiration. When we ended our run on 'The Tonight Show' and my professional life continued, whenever a big career decision needed to be made, I always got the okay from 'the boss.' I will miss him deeply, not only as my close friend, but because of the impact he made on my life and audiences around the world."

Skitch Henderson, "Tonight Show" bandleader (1962-1966) -- ABC News Radio:

"Young John, as we called him, 'the prince,' was always prepared. I remember when I'd book music guests, he would always talk to me about who they were, what their interests were. He was a wonderful businessman who related to the Midwest and related to New York."

Jay Leno, current "Tonight Show" host -- written statement:

"No single individual has had as great an impact on television as Johnny. He was the gold standard. It's hard to believe he's actually gone. This is a tremendous loss for everyone who Johnny made laugh for so many years."

David Letterman, late-night talk show host -- written statement:

"It's a sad day for his family and for the country. All of us who came after are pretenders. We will not see the likes of him again. He gave me a shot on his show and in doing so, he gave me a career. A night doesn't go by that I don't ask myself, 'What would Johnny have done?' He has been greatly missed since his retirement. Thank God for videotapes and DVD's. In this regard, he will always be around. He was the best. A star and a gentleman."

President Bush -- written statement:

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