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The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson


Night people

When the stars come out at night, they flock to the sofas of TV’s talk shows. Here are the hosts America has lost sleep over.

 / Updated 15 PHOTOS
Image: Stephen Colbert, David Letterman

Stephen Colbert

CBS recently announced that Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman as the host of "Late Night." But this time, he'll be playing himself, not the conservative fictional character he's played for years on "The Colbert Report." Said Colbert of the new job, "I'm thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth."

John Paul Filo / CBS
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Image: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon - Season 1

Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy Fallon now hosts "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," in New York. He took over from Jay Leno after the end of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Before that move, he hosted "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" for five years.

Lloyd Bishop / NBC
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Image: Late Night with Seth Meyers - Season 1

Seth Meyers

Seth Meyers hosts "Late Night with Seth Meyers," which premiered in February of 2014. He was the former head writer and "Weekend Update" anchor on "Saturday Night Live."

Nbc / NBCUniversal
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The Daily Show With Jon Stewart From St. Paul - Day 4

Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart hosts "The Daily Show," his Emmy-winning "fake news" program on Comedy Central.

Ethan Miller / Getty Images North America
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Chelsea LATELY

Chelsea Handler

One of the few women to venture into late-night chat, stand-up comedian Chelsea Handler (right) is the star of "Chelsea Lately" on the E! entertainment cable channel. Her guests have included pop singer Katy Perry.

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Jimmie Kimmel, Richard Simmons

Jimmy Kimmel

The former co-host of Comedy Central's "The Man Show" graduated to his own network show, ABC s "Jimmy Kimmel Live!", in January 2003. By April 2008, Kimmel (in bed) was marking his 1,000 episode with a comedy special whose guests included fitness guru Richard Simmons.

Mitch Haddad / American Broadcasting Companies,
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The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson

Craig Ferguson

Glasgow-born comedian Craig Ferguson was best-known for playing the boss on "The Drew Carey Show" before taking over as host of CBS's "The Late Late Show" in January 2005. His work earned him an Emmy nomination in 2006. After campaigning on-air for honorary citizenship in every state of America, Ferguson became an American citizen for real in February 2008.

Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images North America
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Barack Obama, Conan O'Brien

Conan O'Brien

Conan O'Brien began hosting "Conan" in 2010, after briefly hosting "The Tonight Show" and a longer tenure at "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

Dana Edelson / NBC
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Hilary Duff Visits "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" - June 13, 2005

Jay Leno

When he retired from "The Tonight Show in 1992," Johnny Carson was succeeded by stand-up comedian Jay Leno, who had had plenty of practice for the job as a frequent substitute host. Leno ended his "Tonight" stint in May 2009 to host his own prime-time talk show. But that show failed to attract viewers and was canceled on Jan. 10, 2010, with NBC sending Leno back to "Tonight." Leno's run on "Tonight" ended in spring 2014, when Jimmy Fallon took over.

Steve Granitz / WireImage
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Arsenio Hall

Arsenio Hall

Aimed mainly at a young urban audience, "The Arsenio Hall Show" ran in late-night syndication from 1989 to 1994. One of the show’s most famous moments came in June 1992, when then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton played the saxophone while appearing as a guest. Hall revived the show in 2013.

Ted Thai / Time & Life Pictures
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Barack Obama, David Letterman

David Letterman

Onetime weatherman David Letterman became known for his acerbic style when he hosted "Late Night with David Letterman" on NBC for 11 years. When he did not get Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" seat after Carson vacated it in 1992, Letterman moved to CBS to host "Late Show with David Letterman," where his guests have included then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. He announced in 2014 that he would retire from the talk show in 2015.

Jeffrey R Staab / CBS
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Portrait of Tom Snyder

Tom Snyder

Arguably the founding father of late-late-night TV due to his stints on NBC’s "The Tomorrow Show" in the 1970s and 80s and CBS’s "The Late Late Show" in the 1990s, Tom Snyder had a voluble style; his barking laugh and on-air smoking were parodied by Dan Aykroyd on "Saturday Night Live." Snyder died in 2007 at the age of 71.

Cbs Photo Archive / Hulton Archive
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The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson

Generally acknowledged as the all-time king of late-night TV, Johnny Carson was a nocturnal habit for America during his 30-year reign as "Tonight Show" host, 1962-92. Such characters as the sardonic seer Carnac the Magnificent became iconic. Carson died in 2005 at age 79.

Chris Haston / Episodic
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Errol Flynn On 'The Jack Paar Show'

Jack Paar

Mercurial Jack Paar (center) took over "The Tonight Show" desk when Steve Allen left it in 1957. During Paar's five-year tenure, "Tonight" took on a more cosmopolitan tone, with international guests like French singer Genevieve (left) and Australian-born actor Errol Flynn (right). Paar died in 2004 at the age of 85.

Yale Joel / Time & Life Pictures
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Steve Allen Tonight

Steve Allen

The original host of "The Tonight Show" when it made its NBC debut in 1954, Steve Allen created segments that are still in use today, such as "man on the street" interviews. Also a prolific author and songwriter, the comedian died in 2000 at the age of 78.

Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive
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