The longtime lawyer for Johnny Carson has a new book coming out, and in it, he describes, among other stories, the time he says the late-night television legend, carrying a revolver, broke into his wife’s secret apartment and found what he believed to be evidence she was having an affair with an NFL star.
According to Henry Bushkin’s "Johnny Carson" (via the New York Post), Carson hired Bushkin in 1962, and one of his first jobs was to accompany Carson and a private investigator to a pied-à-terre reportedly inhabited by Carson’s wife, Joanne.
When they got there, according to Bushkin, the men found photos of New York Giants star Frank Gifford. “Carson leaned against the living room wall and began to weep,” Bushkin writes, according to the Post. “I realized that I was probably one of the very few people who ever saw Johnny Carson cry.”
Bushkin also added that Carson’s raincoat opened up while he was crying and he "was shocked to see that Johnny was carrying a .38 revolver in a holster on his hip."
The story, however, was disputed by Carson’s ex-wife, who said she never had an affair with Gifford, who went on to become a fixture as a broadcaster after his playing career ended. Joanne Carson called Bushkin’s story “delusional” in an interview with the Post, saying that the apartment belonged to her secretary and her husband never carried a gun.
The secretary, however, shared a different story. Margaret Davies told the Post, “I lived in that apartment for six months, and paid her rent, but it was never my apartment, and I only lived there after Johnny Carson found out about the Frank Gifford affair.”
On Tuesday, Gifford’s wife, Kathie Lee Gifford, addressed the claims on the Today Show, telling viewers that, while her husband is certainly infamous for his philandering — he was busted having an affair with a flight attendant in 1997 — she doesn’t believe the Carson story to be accurate.
“No, it’s not true, that particular one,” she joked with on-air host Hoda Kotb. “Although we all know what the man is capable of.”
So maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. Frank Gifford isn’t talking and Johnny Carson is no longer with us to share his side of the story. But in any case, it sounds like Bushkin’s new book — which Joanne Carson says should be “released under fiction” — makes for some good reading.