Famous Friends Remember Johnny Carson

"Laura and I are saddened by the death of Johnny Carson. Born in Iowa and raised in Nebraska, Johnny Carson was a steady and reassuring presence in homes across America for three decades. His wit and insight made Americans laugh and think and had a profound influence on American life and entertainment. He was a patriot who served in the United States Navy during World War II and always remembered his roots in the heartland of America. We send our prayers and condolences to the entire Carson family."

Former first lady Nancy Reagan -- written statement:

"The death of Johnny Carson is a huge loss for all of us. He was a comedian who not only made us laugh, but also made us stop and think. Ronnie and I always enjoyed him on 'The Tonight Show' and we were honored to know him as a friend. My prayers go out to his entire family at this very difficult time."

Jerry Lewis, comedian -- written statement:

"He was the most decent, marvelous man I've ever known, and we're going to miss him a lot . . . I think that Johnny, no matter how long he lived in Hollywood and no matter how much money he made, he still had a piece of straw stuck in his ear."

Chevy Chase, comedian -- written statement:

"Being Johnny's friend was an honor. To hear of his sudden death, a great shock. He was so much more than just the 'King of Late Night,' he was a real intellect with broad interests. Thankfully, many of which he was able to enjoy in the last decade. It is a terrible loss to his friends. I am deeply saddened."

Bette Midler, singer-actress -- written statement:

"Johnny Carson was the public face of American comedy for decades. But anyone who knew him well knew he was an intensely private and yet deeply generous man. So many of us who are working in show business today owe our careers to him. I was his last guest and it was one of the most moving experiences of my life. He had it all -- a little bit of devil, a whole lot of angel, with charm, good looks, superb timing and great, great class."

Oprah Winfrey, talk show host -- ABC News Radio:

"He was ... one of the greats of our time."

"He was in our generation what Ed Sullivan was in that generation. And, you know, the very first time I got invited to the show, that defined, 'You have now made it.' "

Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor, bodybuilder and governor of California -- written statement:

"Maria and I are deeply saddened to learn of the death of this comedic genius. As an irreplaceable member of the entertainment community, Johnny Carson shared his spirit and laughter with his family, friends and countless fans. Johnny was a great friend and always showed me profound respect. He welcomed me on his show when no one knew who I was and helped promote the image of bodybuilding. Johnny was a tenant of mine for years and it was always a highlight when we would see each other in the building. He brought out the best in people. Hollywood has lost one of its most esteemed pioneers, but he leaves a proud legacy that will inspire generations to come."

Phyllis Diller, comedian -- ABC News Radio:

"I don't think his work will ever be topped. I think he was the world's greatest host. He did so many creative things on that show. He used to have sketches that were hilarious. When a joke died, he was funnier than ever."

"It was the plum show to be on for even big, big stars. They all hungered to go on with Johnny Carson because he always treated everyone so well and brought out the very best in them."

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