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Mapping Johnny Carson's Swank '70s and '80s Los Angeles

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In Maps to the Stars, Curbed LA maps the lives of the most notable figures in Los Angeles history through the places that were important to them.

New York City may be the center of the late-night television universe today, but for 20 solid years, that distinction was held by beautifully boring Burbank, thanks to one guy: Johnny Carson. Carson hosted The Tonight Show from Studio 1 on NBC's Burbank lot from May 1, 1972, to May 22, 1992. Over the course of those two decades, he elevated the late-night talk show to an art form with his easygoing charm and nonthreatening humor. Carson made millions, made careers, and won a Peabody, and had a great time doing it—or looked like he did, anyway. Meanwhile, he left his stamp all over Los Angeles.

In true Angeleno fashion, Carson was a transplant. His first stint in Los Angeles came in the early 1950s, hosting cheapy variety shows on CBS affiliates. Carson was a natural—he and the camera had a mutual love affair from the start—but nothing stuck. Carson ended up back in New York, hosting Who Do You Trust? (successor to the unfortunately-titled Do You Trust Your Wife?), where he got his first experience interviewing guests.

Carson landed The Tonight Show gig in 1962, taking over for Jack Paar. He spent his first 10 years hosting in New York, then brought the whole enterprise west, to Beautiful Downtown Burbank. Celebrities felt comfortable around Carson, who was quick-witted but never mean, and everyone who was anyone ended up on his couch at some point. The Tonight Show went well with a warm cup of milk: something soft and familiar and easy to consume before bed, something that sent you to sleep feeling good.

In private, Carson was reportedly a very different man. He was shy, mercurial—almost unknowable. Those that knew him gave the impression that "Johnny Carson" was just a character, someone the real Johnny Carson played for an hour a night, four nights a week. He existed within and apart from the Los Angeles entertainment elite, (see: this classic New Yorker profile), keeping most everyone at a distance. He was inescapable, a cultural landmark who had bizarre Beach Boys songs written about him, and yet he was also just a guy that liked to golf. This is his Los Angeles. —Ian Grant


· Maps to the Stars [Curbed LA]

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1. Don Lee Mutual Broadcasting Building

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1313 Vine Street
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Johnny hosted his first television program, Carson's Cellar, from this classic television studio in Hollywood. The building is now home to the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study. It was designed by Claude Beelman, architect of Broadway's Eastern Columbia Building.

2. CBS Television City Studios

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7800 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Carson's second shot at television, The Johnny Carson Show, was a primetime half-hour variety show filmed at CBS Television City. It lasted a year.

3. Stage 1, NBC Studios

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3000 West Alameda Avenue
Burbank, CA 91523

Third time was the charm: The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson ran from 1962 to 1992, setting the standard for late-night talk shows.

4. Chadney's

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3000 West Olive Avenue
Burbank, CA 91505

Conveniently located just across the street from NBC, Chadney's, a dark little jazz room, was the bar of choice. Carson was a regular patron.

5. Chasen's

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9039 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Legendary dining establishment that hosted virtually every famous Angeleno, including Carson, from 1936 to 1995. Served a fine bowl of chili. Since demolished to make way for a Bristol Farms.

6. Matteo's

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2321 Westwood Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90064

Another old-school Carson hangout, Matteo's is actually still open, serving classic, calorie-dense Italian.

7. Bel-Air Country Club

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10768 Bellagio Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90077

Carson loved to golf. The green at Bel Air's ultra-exclusive country club was his course of choice, until he sold his membership as part of a divorce settlement with his third wife, Joanna.

8. Bel-Air Home

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400 Saint Cloud Road
Los Angeles, CA 90077

Carson, along with seemingly every other self-respecting celebrity in Los Angeles, lived in Bel Air in the '70s and '80s, until his divorce with Joanna.

9. Palm Springs Home

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535 West Vía Lola
Palm Springs, CA 92262

Carson's real estate portfolio included a relatively modest Mid-Century Modern in Palm Springs.

10. Malibu Home

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22240 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265

After splitting from Bel Air, Carson headed for Malibu. His $10 million mansion was 11,000 square feet and sported solid gold fixtures, a tennis club, and a waterfall.

11. Last Home

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6962 Wildlife Road
Malibu, CA 90265

Carson's last home, a funny-looking triangular matter on a secluded bluff overlooking the Pacific, was sold by his widow for $38 million.

12. Johnny Carson Park

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400 Bob Hope Drive
Burbank, CA 91505

This small, sweet patch of grass tucked in between television studios and the 134 Freeway commemorates Carson's legacy.

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1. Don Lee Mutual Broadcasting Building

1313 Vine Street, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Johnny hosted his first television program, Carson's Cellar, from this classic television studio in Hollywood. The building is now home to the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study. It was designed by Claude Beelman, architect of Broadway's Eastern Columbia Building.

1313 Vine Street
Los Angeles, CA 90028

2. CBS Television City Studios

7800 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Carson's second shot at television, The Johnny Carson Show, was a primetime half-hour variety show filmed at CBS Television City. It lasted a year.

7800 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

3. Stage 1, NBC Studios

3000 West Alameda Avenue, Burbank, CA 91523

Third time was the charm: The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson ran from 1962 to 1992, setting the standard for late-night talk shows.

3000 West Alameda Avenue
Burbank, CA 91523

4. Chadney's

3000 West Olive Avenue, Burbank, CA 91505

Conveniently located just across the street from NBC, Chadney's, a dark little jazz room, was the bar of choice. Carson was a regular patron.

3000 West Olive Avenue
Burbank, CA 91505

5. Chasen's

9039 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Legendary dining establishment that hosted virtually every famous Angeleno, including Carson, from 1936 to 1995. Served a fine bowl of chili. Since demolished to make way for a Bristol Farms.

9039 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048

6. Matteo's

2321 Westwood Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90064

Another old-school Carson hangout, Matteo's is actually still open, serving classic, calorie-dense Italian.

2321 Westwood Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90064

7. Bel-Air Country Club

10768 Bellagio Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90077

Carson loved to golf. The green at Bel Air's ultra-exclusive country club was his course of choice, until he sold his membership as part of a divorce settlement with his third wife, Joanna.

10768 Bellagio Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90077

8. Bel-Air Home

400 Saint Cloud Road, Los Angeles, CA 90077

Carson, along with seemingly every other self-respecting celebrity in Los Angeles, lived in Bel Air in the '70s and '80s, until his divorce with Joanna.

400 Saint Cloud Road
Los Angeles, CA 90077

9. Palm Springs Home

535 West Vía Lola, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Carson's real estate portfolio included a relatively modest Mid-Century Modern in Palm Springs.

535 West Vía Lola
Palm Springs, CA 92262

10. Malibu Home

22240 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265

After splitting from Bel Air, Carson headed for Malibu. His $10 million mansion was 11,000 square feet and sported solid gold fixtures, a tennis club, and a waterfall.

22240 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265

11. Last Home

6962 Wildlife Road, Malibu, CA 90265

Carson's last home, a funny-looking triangular matter on a secluded bluff overlooking the Pacific, was sold by his widow for $38 million.

6962 Wildlife Road
Malibu, CA 90265

12. Johnny Carson Park

400 Bob Hope Drive, Burbank, CA 91505

This small, sweet patch of grass tucked in between television studios and the 134 Freeway commemorates Carson's legacy.

400 Bob Hope Drive
Burbank, CA 91505