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Johnny Carson: In Fond Memory by Whitley Strieber

I remember Johnny Carson with the greatest respect andfondness. Back when Communion was just published, mypublicist suddenly got a call from his office. He wanted meon his program. At the time, I was being grilled alive ontelevision. I had sat three feet away from Larry King andhad him laugh in my face in front of a million people. I hadbeen scorned and excoriated by the atrocious Phil Donohuebefore a studio audience a thousand strong, all laughingderisively. I was being made a national joke as the 'rectalprobe' guy. So I really, really did not want to endureanother public humiliation. But it was the Tonight Show, at that time the biggest placean author could go on television. (They still took authorsin those days, because Johnny liked books, as Jack Paarhad.) It was an offer the publisher felt that I couldn'trefuse. So I went out to Burbank to do the program. And an amazing thing happened. Carson didn't have me on tohumiliate me. On the contrary, he was open to my story andfascinated with it. He even bumped a band so that I couldremain on longer. There were two reasons for this: the firstone is that, like a surprising number of celebrities of thatera, he seemed to have some inside knowledge of the UFOfield. In this respect, he was like Jackie Gleason, whosewife told me that he'd actually be shown UFOs in a hangar byRichard Nixon. The second reason was more personal: he hadseen a UFO from the deck of his house in Malibu. He told methat he'd watched it for some time. It had appeared duringthe day, in a clear blue sky. He did not describe it to mein detail, but he did say that there was no question in hismind about it being any sort of ordinary aircraft or balloon. I have always been grateful to Johnny Carson for his couragein giving me a fair hearing. My experience of most mediaprofessionals is that they are, in their deepest souls,natural prostitutes. But not Mr. Johnny Carson. He was a manof decency. He was honest and forthright. And he providedthis country and the world with years of marvelousentertainment. I will miss not only his presence in life,but also the values by which he conducted his life.

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