Johnny Carson grew up in southwest Iowa until the age of 8 years old when the family moved to Norfolk, Nebraska, where he learned to perform magic tricks, debuting as "The Great Carsoni" at age 14.
In 1973, Carson had a legendary run-in with popular psychic Uri Geller when he invited Geller to appear on his show. Carson, an experienced stage magician, wanted a neutral demonstration of Geller's alleged abilities, so, at the advice of his friend and fellow magician James Randi, he gave Geller several spoons out of his desk drawer and asked him to bend them with his psychic powers. Geller proved unable, and his appearance on The Tonight Show has since been regarded as the beginning of Geller's fall from glory.
One of Johnny's regular characters her performed on his TV show was Carnac the Magnificent, a turbaned psychic who could answer questions before seeing them. (This same routine had been done by Carson's predecessor, Steve Allen, as "The Question Man.") Ed McMahon would hand Carnac a series of envelopes, containing questions. Carnac would place each envelope against his forehead and predict the answer, such as "Gatorade." Then he would read the question: "What does an alligator get on welfare?" McMahon would always announce near the end, "I hold in my hand the last envelope," at which the audience would applaud wildly, prompting Carnac to pronounce a comedic "curse" on the audience, such as "May your sister elope with a camel!"
"Carnac the Magnificent" was another one of the stage names Johnny used in his magic act as a youth.
Over the years, Johnny invited many magicians on his TV Show.
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