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A Hard Act to Follow by Henry Bushkin
“A Hard Act to Follow,” is a non-fiction literary account of Henry Bushkin’s tenure as Johnny Carson’s lawyer, business partner, and friend. The book gives genuine insight into the ‘Carson behind Johnny’ with candid personal vignettes about the two, during the rollicking years when Johnny was the undisputed king of television. This is an engaging, eye-opening, anecdote-packed story about a young lawyer and his client, one of the biggest celebrities in the country. This funny, unfiltered account gives readers a look at the Johnny Carson that none but a select few really knew.
“A Hard Act to Follow” by Henry Bushkin provides a stirring account into Johnny Carson’s world—as told by Carson’s closest confidant.
The New Yorker article by Kenneth Tynan from 1978, included the following question and answer:
Tynan: When you’re at home, whom do you entertain?
Carson: My lawyer, Henry Bushkin, who’s probably my best friend.
Johnny Carson, his famously puckish face obscured by sunglasses and disguised by distress, led a squad of men with downturned mouths and upturned collars through a rain-swept Manhattan evening. Carson strode purposefully, and his four followers hurried behind, dodging taxis and umbrellas and jumping puddles to keep pace. Their destination: a modest high-rise in the East Forties near First Avenue. Their mission: a dubious if not downright illegal cloak- and-dagger caper to enter an apartment to which they had no title, let alone keys. Their identities: Joe Mullen, a licensed New York private eye, straight out of Mickey Spillane, serious and capable; Mario Irizarry, his tall, gaunt aide-de-camp, adept at lock picking and as conversational as a clam; and Arthur Kassel, my best friend. A security ex- pert/crime photographer/police groupie with slightly grandiose ambitions, Arthur had made it his business over the years to befriend important people, and about a year earlier, at a police benefit, Arthur made friends with the event’s emcee, the host of The Tonight Show, Johnny Carson.
Praise for the Book
“I loved the book.” ~Wayne Newton
“Henry was Johnny’s closest friend for many years which becomes clear through many of the wonderful chapters of the book.” ~Bob Trapenberg
“The book is full of tough love, humor, cultural history, sadness, humor, love, loss, well I guess I am saying it is full of life.” ~Rupert Garcia
” Henry’s portrayal of Johnny was spot on. I highly recommend this book which is the closest the reader will ever get to know the real Carson.” ~ Ed Weinberger, former Tonight Show writer and Producer for Carson Productions
“A beautifully easy read that pulls you in to an effortless journey through Johnny Carson’s effortful life. The glamour the fellow celebrities behind the curtain, the loyalties, and the betrayals. It certainly provides new insight on decisions and the lives that are behind the scenes.” ~Kathy Davis, Kathy Takes on Books
“”I have read this book and it is FAB! If you love reading about celebrities, this is awesome. It is also a great memoir as well. I am a huge memoir fan so this one was a real treat and one of the best I have read in this genre in a long time” ~Mary, Bookhounds Blog
“Bushkin’s easy, unpretentious style allows the reader to be a fly on the wall as this inside story plays out in the rarified air on which Johnny thrived. “A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW” is a must read whether you grew up on Johnny or never heard of him. And then there are the supporting characters — from the Rat Pack to Johnny’s Ice Queen mother ranging around the pages disturbing the peace. I read it straight through in 90 minutes and was left wanting more.” ~Sandy Ignon, Screenwriter (RANSOM).
“The tales are epic in nature and stretch from the first page to the last. “A Hard Act to Follow” is an honest appraisal of Carson and shows his dark side. In this, Bushkin strikes the right blend of salacious detail with an appropriate dose of discretion. Sure, you’ll learn more detail about Carson’s marriages– in a tasteful way. Bushkin will leave you wanting more. Great books will do that.” ~Barry Mordis, Senior VP at Merryl-Lynch
“No one would describe Johnny as easy going-there was an edge to him that Bushkin always managed to soften. He continues to do that in this book. There was that challenging side of Johnny which is also captured in the book. Henry was Johnny’s closest friend for many years which becomes clear through many of the wonderful chapters of the book. All in all a great book to read.” ~Bob Trapenberg, Johnny’s former Tennis Pro.
Author Henry Bushkin
Henry Bushkin is an experienced lawyer who practices in both California and New York. He currently lives in Los Angeles where his children also reside.
This was an interesting story about Johnny Carson as told by his lawyer. I liked reading the different stories that Henry Bushkin had to share. He had known and was Johnny’s companion for over 20 years. He told how about all the roles that he played in Johnny’s life. He spent a lot of time with him and saw both the good and the bad.
I think that anyone who like watching the tonight show would be interested in reading this book. They will learn more about the man behind the camera.
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