Soon after Johnny Carson’s death last weekend, NBC announced the 79-year-old entertainer had died of emphysema, a respiratory disease that can be attributed to smoking.
Carson was a heavy smoker during his “Tonight Show” days, wielding a cigarette as a prop on air until smoking on television passed out of favor.
“I feel guilty ... it’s compulsive,” Carson told Mike Wallace on a “60 Minutes” interview in 1979. “I should go to one of those places where they shock you or do something or show you old reruns of ‘Gilligan’s Island’ to make you give up smoking.”
The interview was to be rebroadcast Wednesday night on CBS’ “60 Minutes Wednesday” with footage that wasn’t shown in 1979.
The interview remains one of Wallace’s most treasured.
“Johnny Carson stands with the Ayatollah Khomeini and Vladimir Horowitz among my favorite interviews,” Wallace said in a statement. “He was a fan of ‘60 Minutes.’ He invited me on his show and on the show I said, ‘Why don’t you do ours?”’