Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bob Crane on 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson' — July 2, 1969

If you loved The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, you have Bob Crane to thank for some of it. 

During his last several years at KNX-CBS Radio, Bob Crane devoted an hour of his show to interviewing celebrities. These interviews were a dynamic hit with listeners and celebrities alike, and television producers took notice. So they started pestering Bob to transition from being a radio talk show host to a television talk show host.

Bob was inundated with offers to host his own television talk show, including to replace Jack Paar as host of The Tonight Show. But Bob didn't want to host a TV talk show. He wanted to act. His answer to every single offer of this kind was the same: No. 

Bob Crane's refusal to accept the offer to host The Tonight Show left the door wide open for Johnny Carson, who went on to great fame as the Kind of Late Night.

However, Bob did agree to fill in as a substitute guest host on several television talk shows, and that included The Tonight Show, where he was also a featured guest. Over the years, we had never been able to find any archival footage of Bob's appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, either as Carson's fill-in host or as a guest. And believe me, we've looked! I was happily surprised and thankful when a friend with classic television archive connections sent me a note asking if I wanted the audio version of Bob Crane's July 2, 1969, Tonight Show appearance. 

Hmmm. Let-me-think-about-it— YES!

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was often audio-recorded and sent overseas to our troops serving in the military as part of the United States Armed Forces Radio Network. And this episode was one that was recorded. With the permission of the Carson Entertainment Group, we are honored to share this rare episode as part of The Bob Crane Show: Reloaded podcast.