"King of Late Night" Dies at 79

1-23-05- The man who ruled over late night TV for 30 years -- Johnny Carson -- has died at the age of 79. Carson took over as host of NBC's "Tonight Show" in 1962 --and continued in that role until 1992, when he was replaced by Jay Leno.

A nephew says Carson died "peacefully" this morning, "surrounded by his family." He says there will be no memorial service. His death was reportedly due to complications from emphysema.

As host of the "Tonight Show," the Nebraska native delivered a mix of celebrity banter, droll comedy and heartland charm. Audiences never got tired of him -- and he was still on top when he retired.

Despite his wealth and the adoration of his guests, Carson maintained an air of modesty that helped enhance his intimacy with his viewers.

He was introduced each night with the booming announcement from
sidekick Ed McMahon: "Heeeeere's Johnny" -- launching a show
feating a topical monologue, celebrity guests, and characters such
as "Carnac the Magnificent."